Many years ago, I was escorting an oversize load from Boaz, Ala. to Summerville, S.C, when we shut down for the night at a truck stop just outside of Columbia, S.C. My boss, who was hauling one half of a doublewide mobile home, commented about the number of underage girls lurking about truck stop parking lot.
“Probably runaways,” he said sadly, more to himself than to me. I recall seeing at least five or six of them. “How did they manage find each other and form some sort of bond,” I wondered. Still, I assumed they had chosen the situation they were in.
I hadn’t give those girls much thought in the past two-plus decades that have passed until 2011 when I attended a Truckers Against Trafficking press conference at The Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. I watched the premiere of a documentary about children being forced in the sex trade business. And it was an interview with FBI Supervisory Special Agent Evan Nicolas of the Crimes Against Children unit, that made me remember those young girls at that truck stop long ago. Nicolas said it’s a mistake to think that most young children working as prostitutes are doing it willingly. “I don’t think anyone wants to be beaten and raped on a daily basis or beaten in the most extreme ways …” he said. “I don’t think there is any willingness, especially of your child victims.”
Two shocking statistics to consider: The average age for human trafficking victims is 12 years old. The life expectancy of a child after being forced into prostitution is less than 10 years.
Sadly, I was young and ignorant about the ugly sex trade and child trafficking underworld back then. I only wondered to myself and went about my business. Please, educate yourself about child trafficking. The Truckers Against Trafficking website has a wealth of information including videos and even an app.
But above all, if you see a child, teenager or even younger, in a truck stop parking lot, rest area or wherever and things don’t look right, make a call to either the local police or the Truckers Against Trafficking national hotline – 888-373-7888. Few phone calls in your life, could make more of a difference that this one.