EDITORIAL: A Brave Stand on the Highways
Truckers are taking one of the bravest stands ever against one of mankind’s worst crimes, to expose and eliminate human trafficking.
The effort is being coordinated by the SC Attorney General’s Office; and this month, AG Alan Wilson welcomed trucking association members, trucking plaza industry representatives, and 25 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to Columbia for a Trucking Against Traffickers (TAT) coalition build. The event was designed to establish an effective working relationship between these stakeholders with the aim of effectively combatting human trafficking in South Carolina, and was tied to efforts to bring increased knowledge of the crime on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Estimates are 42 million people are exploited each year in this worldwide criminal enterprise. Truckers who are daily on America’s highways are first-responding sets of eyes on anything that looks suspicious.
Make no mistake, the human traffickers are not going to give up their multi-billion industry without a fight. Truckers, we suspect, would be the first to say, “Bring it on.”
Wilson said, “Truckers are in a unique position to be able to see possible trafficking victims at truck stops, travel centers and rest areas. Having the trucking industry working together with law enforcement will help us fight human trafficking, which is far more widespread than most people realize.”
We applaud this effort, and whole-heartedly support anything that will end human trafficking in the United States. It is a global problem, and there are hard-charging advocates out there seeking the end of “merchandizing” humans in every country. They are some of bravest human beings alive.
During the South Carolina education event, presenters educated trucking industry employees about human trafficking, and truckers were provided with the tools they need to spot the warning signs, so they can effectively work with law enforcement to fight human trafficking. Speakers included the Coordinator of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, a trafficking survivor, and a speakers’ panel composed of federal, state and local law enforcement; and The Freedom Drivers Project, a 48-foot mobile exhibit designed to educate the public about human trafficking, was available for tours.
An Attorney General’s statement about the anti-trafficking effort quoted Rick Todd, President and CEO of the South Carolina Trucking Association:
“Human trafficking is a horrific crime, impacting thousands of children, women and men. No one can thwart the power and scope of these crimes alone. But truckers want to do their part, by becoming aware and getting trained – in case they need to make the call when they see someone who is in need of help.”
Esther Goetsch, TAT Coalition Build Specialist, said, “Bringing law enforcement and key industry stakeholders together to close loopholes to traffickers is what TAT is all about. We’re very excited to be in Columbia on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and believe this meeting will have exponential effects.”
We certainly agree, and earnestly say to all truckers out there, “Guys and gals, please be safe.”
The South Carolina Trucking Association, a nonprofit trade organization that represents all the various parties constituting South Carolina’s vibrant trucking industry, as the newest member of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, is invested in supporting law enforcement efforts to end human trafficking in the state. National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-7888; text: 233733 (BeFree)