ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The NATSO Foundation is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking.
This partnership marks the latest chapter in the NATSO Foundation’s multi-pronged anti-human trafficking initiative aimed at creating awareness and educating the truckstop and travel plaza industry to fight human trafficking along America’s Interstate Highway System, according to NATSO Foundation President Lisa Mullings.
“As an industry that caters to millions of travelers every year, truckstops and travel plazas and their employees are in a key position to help identify and stop human trafficking along America’s highway system,” Mullings said. “Sadly, human trafficking has been reported across all modes of transportation and in many legitimate businesses that unknowingly are used for this illicit activity. Truckstops and travel plazas are effectively creating the equivalent of a Neighborhood Watch program so that our industry is equipped to help if we encounter a victim of this horrible crime.”
For more than five years, the NATSO Foundation has been helping members of the truckstop and travel plaza community engage in the fight against human trafficking.
The NATSO Foundation’s goal is to provide the truckstop and travel plaza industry with the necessary tools to train owners, operators and employees so that those individuals are equipped to help if they encounter a victim of this horrible crime, Mullings said.
The NATSO Foundation works closely with the Department of Transportation, Polaris Project, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Truckers Against Trafficking and other organizations to gain insight into best practices on how to educate members of the truckstop and travel plaza community to identify suspected cases of human trafficking and report the information to the appropriate authorities.
The NATSO Foundation in 2016 launched an online course titled “The Role of Truckstops in Combating Human Trafficking” to help truckstops and travel plazas train their staff in recognizing and responding to suspected incidents of human trafficking. The course is available on the NATSO Foundation’s website free of charge so that any member of the truckstop and travel plaza industry can leverage this educational resource. The course can be accessed at www.natso.com/onlinelearning.
Through this alliance with the DHS Blue Campaign, the NATSO Foundation will provide the DHS Blue Campaign’s training and awareness materials – including posters, handouts and other materials — to the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas. These materials will enhance the NATSO Foundation’s educational resources.
Approximately 18,000 persons are trafficked into the United States from over 50 countries every year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. More than 300,000 children are trafficked within the United States annually. They come from all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds, according to DHS information.