Could Bus Advertisements Help Stop Human Trafficking?
When law enforcement officials acknowledge that they anticipate seeing a lot of cases of human trafficking in New Jersey to coincide with the Super Bowl, it’s time to admit that this country has a serious trafficking problem.
Care2 member Susan V. has a great idea to prevent trafficking and help the victims: posting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline in bus stations and on buses. She’s petitioning Greyhound to include the resource information in their buildings and vehicles.
Why Greyhound? For starters, the company’s bus stations are visited by countless commuting Americans, meaning the advertisements would be visible to a cross-section of the country.
Still, the choice of Greyhound is much less arbitrary than “a place lots of people will see.” Beyond that, buses are a common way for traffickers to transport their victims. Though victims are generally not provided with the opportunity to make calls themselves, seeing the number could prove helpful to them should a chance arise in the future.
More likely, it’s the fellow passengers that will intervene. Hopefully, bus riders who witness moments that seem off will be moved to report this suspicious behavior since the contact information is in plain sight. While the average American might be clueless as to how to approach a potential human trafficking scenario, providing authorities with the necessary information to intervene themselves could save lives.
While no one is faulting Greyhound for the trafficking that occurs on its buses, the company certainly can’t deny that its vehicles have been used to transport victims. Here are some trafficking news stories that have included Greyhound in recent years:
- Marcus Dwane Manning Jr. moved teen girls he prostituted from Orlando to West Michigan via Greyhound.
- After a Greyhound bus driver refused to board a trafficker and his victims, police were notified and able to capture the man.
- When another Greyhound driver tried to break up a fight on his bus, he realized that human trafficking was at play and helped to crack an international trafficking scheme.
Others are also trying to make the NHTRC’s phone number more visible. After learning that human trafficking is much more prevalent in her hometown of Las Vegas than she would have imagined — more than 2,000 children have been rescued from sex trafficking in the city in the last 20 years alone — Barbara Bell made it her mission to crusade against the gross injustice. She assumed that the quest was uncontroversial enough for a bill requiring the hotline to be posted in bus stations would be passed by Nevada lawmakers, but it failed. Instead, Bell teamed with community members to have the hotline posted on various billboards to ensure that the information is being seen by residents of Las Vegas.
According to the Polaris Project, the NHTRC’s hotline is available 24/7, with staff able to communicate in 170 different languages. Calls can be made anonymously and confidentially. Even if potential callers are unsure that their information can be of substantial help, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urges them to call with the tips that they have since even pieces can be used to chart an ongoing pattern and crack a case.
Don’t forget to ask Greyhound for its support by signing the petition below.
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