ALEXANDRIA, Va.—January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and convenience stores play a critical role in helping stop human trafficking. With 152,000 convenience stores located in every community across the United States, stores are positioned to share important messages that employees and customers can use to raise awareness against trafficking and help victims.
“As a convenience store owner, I care about the community and our staff cares about the community. We can spot when something isn’t right, and sometimes that is human trafficking,” said Kent Couch, CEO of the Stop and Go convenience store in Bend, Oregon.
Couch became involved with In Our Backyard, a national nonprofit known for its anti-trafficking work that operates the Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) program. “We wanted to make a difference in our community and keep it safe,” he said.
The restroom is often the only safe place where a victim is alone and able to call or text for help. CSAT’s “Freedom Stickers” are designed to be posted in restroom stalls and contain the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, (888) 373-7888, or text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733).
Human trafficking survivor Sara Perkins shares in a joint CSAT and Ready Training Online training video that she frequented convenience stores multiple times a day. “As a victim, I know that if I had gone into any bathroom and saw an In Our Backyard sticker it would’ve been an open door for me to get the help I needed,” she said.
NACS members also access free resources from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. These resources provide training and education that help convenience retailers recognize the indicators of human trafficking, including the Human Trafficking Awareness Guide for Convenience Retail Employees (PDF) and posters and other materials to share with their store associates.
NACS provides other resources to help c-stores in the fight against human trafficking, including education materials, stats and data, as well as employee training and store signage. For any questions, reach out to Chrissy Blasinsky, NACS content communications strategist, at email@example.com or (703) 518-4296.