Kendis Paris of Truckers Against Trafficking said she’s aware of the alarming number of homeless people, including juvenile runaways, who find their way to truck stops each year seeking shelter and help.
“But the fact is they are in the position to become victims, to fall prey to people who are out to do them harm, including human traffickers,” Paris said.
She explained that Truckers Against Trafficking is a network of drivers and concerned citizens working together to fight human trafficking and modern slavery.
“We realize that truck drivers are in a a position to help,” she explained. “They’re right there in the midst of a lot of what goes on. And for the most part, they want to help. They want to be part of the solution, not the problem. Our focus is on trucking, but we are trying to establish a network of abolitionists, people who see the problem and are willing to do something about it.”
The organization has partnered with groups such as the Polaris Project, which also fights human trafficking, to heighten awareness of the dangers people, especially homeless and runaways, face.
“Human traffickers have a very sophisticated recruitment process,” explained Megan Fowler, a spokeswoman for Polaris. “Although we don’t really have any concrete statistics to rely on, we do know there is a problem there.”
Paris said truckers and other travelers are asked to be on the lookout for a child, or a young person, who is working a lot.
“They can also keep an eye out for cars pulling up to the curb and the drivers letting a group of girls, three or four, out,” she added.
Paris and Fowler said their organizations are asking anyone with information about possible trafficking, or individuals needing help to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline can be reached by calling 888-373-7888.