Posted June 1, 2020
Human trafficking is a serious crime. Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to cause a person to provide labor or commercial sex. In short, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery.
The nature of the professional driver’s job allows him or her to observe, identify, and report these crimes. Because of this, it is important that all professional drivers understand the signs of human trafficking.
Identifying a human trafficking victim
When it comes to identifying a human trafficking victim, drivers should watch for things that seem out of the ordinary, including:
- A minor that isn’t in school, but who probably should be at that time of day;
- A young person with a much older “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” or an older same-sex or platonic friend; or
- A person wearing sexually provocative clothing that is inappropriate for the weather and/or for his or her age.
Other signs that should raise a red flag include people who:
- Aren’t allowed to speak for themselves or look to another person to answer for them,
- Are confused about where they are or where they are going, and
- Make sexual comments that are not typical of their age group.
A person’s physical appearance may be an obvious sign that he or she is a trafficking victim, including:
- Appearing to be deprived of basic needs—food, water, sleep, or medical care;
- Having visible cuts and bruises or untreated wounds or broken bones;
- Appearing to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol; or
- Having a tattoo in the shape of a dollar sign, crown, barcode, someone’s name, or the word “Daddy.”
How to respond
If it’s safe for both the driver and the suspected victim, the driver should try to engage the suspected victim in a private conversation to see how he or she reacts. Questions to ask include:
- Are you okay?
- Do you feel safe?
- Have you been hurt or threatened?
- Do you know where we are right now?
- Do you know where you’re going?
- What do you do for work?
This short interaction may provide enough proof that something is going on. A driver should trust his or her instincts.
If human trafficking is suspected, the driver should contact law enforcement as soon as possible by dialing 911. When contacting law enforcement, the driver should provide as much detail as possible, including:
- A description of the people (height, weight, hair color, age, clothing) and vehicles (make, model, vehicle color, license plate number) involved;
- The address/location where the suspicion activity took place; and
- The specific time and date the suspicious activity was observed.
A driver should never approach a trafficker ― this should be left to law enforcement to handle. Approaching a trafficker can put both the driver and the victim in danger and could possibly interfere with the potential prosecution of the trafficker.