AUSTIN — Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott has partnered with state agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), in January to raise awareness about human trafficking and help Texans learn how to combat the crime.
“Victims of human trafficking come from across society, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or hometown,” according to a news release.”Tackling the issue takes a variety of state agencies working together to raise awareness, and provide educational opportunities on how to spot the signs and how to report trafficking activity.”
Abbott called it “crucial that the State of Texas collaborates to raise awareness, increase our vigilance and report signs of this horrendous crime. These victims are not invisible when we learn to look for the signs of suspected abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Working together, we can all help to end this injustice.”
TxDOT trains employees to identify instances of human trafficking, and as recently as October 2022, TxDOT staff at the Gainesville Travel Information Center assisted two people who identified themselves as victims of human trafficking. The victims had walked inside after running out of gas, and TxDOT staff connected them with law enforcement.
“TxDOT plays a critical role in this fight as traffickers utilize our infrastructure to commit this crime,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams said. “We’re training our employees to spot it in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the state. It’s important that we all work together to look for the signs because it can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
Through its Human Trafficking Work Group, TxDOT has also helped raise awareness through multiple education efforts. These include participating in #WearBlueDay on social media and in the office, creating and providing educational resources like flyers and wallet cards, listing common signs of trafficking, and how to report any suspicious activity while on or off the job through iWatchTexas.
Texas consistently has the second highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888) 373-7888 every year, according to the news release.
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