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Unlikely Heroes In The War Against Human Trafficking

When you think about the people trying to fight human trafficking, you might think of law enforcement officers, federal agents, politicians and child protective services. That may be true, but one of the most powerful forces against human trafficking probably never comes to your mind: truck drivers.

When you think of the war on human trafficking, truck drivers are really on the front lines. At any given moment, there are more truckers on the road than there are law enforcement officers.

Truck drivers go from city to city, state to state, taking major transportation routes. They stop frequently at gas stations, diners and motels. If you've ever taken a road trip, you can't help but notice that trucks are always all around you.

Human traffickers follow the same routes and make the same stops. Truckers are in the perfect position to keep an eye out for traffickers, and they do. There is a hotline called 'Truckers Against Trafficking' they can call if they spot something suspicious.

The organization also runs workshops for truckers to teach them how to spot the warning signs.

According to the TAT program, out of 1,500 truckers surveyed, a third had spotted human traffickers at some point in their career. The program was founded by Kendis Paris.

Paris' mother went to a workshop in Denver, Colorado almost a decade ago. The workshop was teaching people to spot human trafficking, and the leaders said they often trained gas station attendants to look for the telltale signs.

Paris' mother realized that truckers, being on the road so much, made excellent candidates as well.

Paris produced a DVD to help raise awareness of the TAT program, and there are currently 440,000 truckers registered. Nearly half a million drivers are on the road every single day who have been taught how to spot and report suspicious activity when they suspect they've run across a human trafficking situation.

Kevin Kimmel is one hero who helped stop a human trafficker. He had finished his deliveries one day and was trying to get some sleep in his truck.

An RV was parked next to him, and he noticed a middle-aged man get into the RV. He then saw a young girl looking through the window, before being pulled away. He got a bad feeling about the situation and called the TAT hotline. It turned out to be a couple holding a young girl against her will, and they were arrested.

Paris tries to spread awareness that when people see prostitutes, they're not necessarily there because they want to be.

"If we could have that cultural shift occur away from the 'she's just a prostitute' mentality and towards 'hey, if I see a minor selling commercial sex or any kind of pimp control I'm looking at human trafficking,' then really what we'll be doing is raising a transient army for law enforcement," Paris said.

Paris is hoping the non-profit program will spread beyond U.S. borders, and into even more arenas than trucking. They're hoping to get convenience store clerks, bus drivers, and even school children trained to spot the signs of trafficking.

"Half of American schoolchildren ride the bus daily — so can we train them?" Paris said. "There are stories of victims who literally go to school every day and are trafficked every night."

Source: A Plus
Photos: YouTube

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