WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — In Wichita Falls, a training program focused on truck drivers as a means to stop human trafficking.
“With truckers against trafficking to educate professional drivers on how to recognize and report signs of human trafficking and help a victim because they have eyes and ears and places that we don’t go, they go to places where minors, adults, male and female are trafficked they are victims of it and they don’t know how to get out of it and they don’t know how to get rescued,” Southern Grit Advocacy Executive Director Vicky Payne said.
More than 70,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking occur in Texas at any given time.
“It is up to everybody to stand up, man up, to women up, and do something about it and educate our kids so that they are not sucked into it,” Payne said.
Southern Grit Advocacy and TxDOT representatives partnered together for this campaign to teach their employees and continue to better secure rest areas across Texas.
“We just trying to make our employees aware of their surroundings and what’s going on. Southern Grit helps us give them ideals to look for any activity to where they can be aware and if they feel necessary they call 9-1-1,” Western Union Project Director Mike Morgan said.
With approximately 5,000 truck stops in the U.S., traffickers have a variety of options and are able to move across state lines making it difficult for law enforcement to catch them.
“Being a rest area a lot of people choose that location because its kinda hidden a lot of places..a lot of my rest areas the trucker side is hidden its kinda out of sight out of mind and its a good place for those people so they do watch out for them..thats our job keep an eye on rest areas,” Central Region Project Manager Banjo Berryman said.
The mission of Southern Grit Advocacy is to prevent, disrupt and end human trafficking through education and campaigns.
The campaign will continue Wednesday, May 4, at Falls Truck Center.