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How Convenience Retailers Can Help Stop Human Trafficking

The number of human trafficking cases in the United States is rising, and retailers can be part of the solution.
July 26, 2017

​WASHINGTON – Each year, thousands of men, women and children become ensnared in human trafficking worldwide. In the United States, the number of reported human trafficking cases is on the rise, Time reports.

The advocacy group Polaris manages the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which has received a record 8,042 reports last year from victims and the public—a 35% increase since 2015. Most of the reports came from people who saw potential trafficking incidents, said Vanessa Chauhan, a strategic engagement adviser at Polaris, which collaborates with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on human trafficking issues.

“Even one person’s information, whether or not that person knows it to be a definite case, could potentially save one life or multiple lives,” Chauhan said. “It’s a hidden crime and unless you’re looking for it, you’re not going to find it.”

The agency spreads awareness of human trafficking via its Blue Campaign. NACS has partnered with the DHS and Blue Campaign to help spread the word to convenience stores about how to spot potential human trafficking.

Signs to look for include:

  • Those who appear disconnected from family and friends
  • Those who look submissive or scared
  • Those with signs of abuse, such as bruises
  • Those who appear to be denied food, water, sleep or medical care
  • Those accompanied by someone who seems to control them.

Victims and tipsters should call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to "BeFree" or 233733. Concerned citizens should not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker. “One tip can mean a life is saved,” Homeland Security spokeswoman Justine Whelan said.