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Human Trafficking: Building Awareness

The issue of Human Trafficking is getting renewed attention in North Dakota. The crime was the focus of a  recent panel discussion with the North Dakota Carriers Association. The panel involved North Dakota U-S Attorney Tim Purdon, State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Kendis Paris, the executive director of the group Truckers Against Trafficking. Paris says there are a lot of eyes available from the trucking industry, and potentially a lot of assistance for those combating crimes of human trafficking…

“…The National Human Trafficking Resource Center – which is run by the Polaris Project out of D.C. – began in December, 2007. And at that time they had three calls from members of the trucking industry. Last year they had 300. Over that time period we got about 412 cases just reported at truck stops alone. That’s not talking about 9-1-1 data, that’s only talking about the people who even know to call the hotline. So just right there, from that kind of sub-set, that sampling, that’s showing the impact that these kind of calls are having.”

Paris says the idea is to generate “actionable” calls. She says when a truck driver reports something, it’s not just a tip… it’s usually something they can contact law enforcement about and get results. Paris says the idea is to build a foundation for societal change when it comes to prostitution and human trafficking…

 “… And we need to start asking the question, “What’s her story?”, “Why is she really out there?”, “Is there someone putting her out there?” you know, what’s the back story on this person? Whether she is selling herself on a lot of on-line… and obviously if you have am minor – federal definition, you have a victim of human trafficking. There is no such thing as a child prostitute. And that kind of conversation needs to stay in not just industry and law enforcement. But it needs to be out in the general public and the citizenry.”

Paris says the issue has always been around, but there is a growing awareness about the crime. And the trucking industry is starting to take up the challenge of reporting human trafficking crimes.

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