Human trafficking is a prevalent issue that is seen all over the world today. It is difficult to know the exact number of people that fall victim to this crime, but no matter the number, something needs to be done to definitively stop this human enslavement.
National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) represents travel plaza and truck stop owners and operators. For the past five years, they have been equipping members to help fight human trafficking. This is all made possible through the NATSO Foundation Initiative.
In order to eliminate human trafficking, we must be aware of the problem and what steps we can take in order to help victims as it is happening.
The NATSO Foundation’s anti-human trafficking efforts include creating awareness and education within truck stop and travel plaza industries. This foundation is offering tools to train owners, operators, and employees on how to identify and report instances of human trafficking.
This knowledge and skill is essential in order to help victims and put an end to this evil.
NATSO’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, says “Human trafficking takes place across the interstate highway system, and we were in a great position to help.”
She stated that NATSO’s members are constantly helping people. For example, they assist people who need to get a flat tire fixed, who are lost and need directions, or who are sick and need a doctor.
Wlazlowski Neuman states that fighting human trafficking is, “a logical extension of what they do all the time to help people.” By taking initiative and training people to be aware of human trafficking, lives can be saved.
A “neighborhood watch” kind of program has been put into action for the industry. This includes a free online training course.
Additionally, Wlazlowski Neuman said that NATSO held a pledge drive where members pledged to train 36,000 employees.
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 on the most efficient practices to put a stop to human trafficking.
NATSO strongly focuses on trends that law enforcement is seeing. “One of the things we hear from our members is the importance of having a well-established relationship with law enforcement,” says Wlazlowski Neuman.
She continues on to say, “We have one member that posts the phone number to local law enforcement in each of their parking lots nationwide so that every customer knows immediately where to call if they suspect any unwanted activity. The relationship with DHS really fits in with that desire to establish good relationships with law enforcement.”
Wlazlowski Neuman says that NATSO members are on the front lines. “They view it as, ‘We are a neighborhood watch. We care about our business, our people, and our customers.’”
Spreading awareness and being proactive can and will help save lives and prevent others from falling victim to human trafficking.
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