NACS Supports Fight Against Human Trafficking

Casey’s and Kum & Go are among the retailers helping to educate the public.

February 04, 2021

BEND, Ore.—For the 12th time, the Bend nonprofit, In Our Backyard, will be at the Super Bowl to oversee anti-human trafficking efforts, according to KTVZ.com. "We are out there, identifying minors and missing children who could be human trafficked in the area,” said Cheryl Csiky, executive director of In Our Backyard and a survivor of human trafficking.

The plan this year in Tampa, as in the past, is to distribute pamphlets with photos and descriptions of missing children, train a few hundred volunteers to search for them and collaborate with local law enforcement. Last year, 36 children were featured in the pamphlet, and 15 of them were recovered within a week of the Super Bowl.

"During our major volunteer event, we had a minor identified in the book before the event even started,” Csiky said. “So, that awareness in the community really makes a difference."

For Super Bowl LV, there are 38 children in the pamphlet. But the Super Bowl is just one of several major events where human trafficking is prevalent, Csiky said.

“There's a party atmosphere … There's more money being spent on these events, and that's what traffickers look for. If there's money being spent, they want to be there and get in on the action," she said.

In Our Backyard is a national leader in the fight against sex and labor trafficking. As NACS Daily reported last month, convenience stores play a key role in helping raise awareness about the fight against human trafficking within their local communities. NACS worked with two groups to make the public more conscious of the issue in January, which is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and encourages convenience retailers to participate.

One group is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Blue Campaign,” a national public awareness program that wants to educate the public, law enforcement and industry partners on how to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and how to respond to possible cases.

“Convenience retailers can play a significant role in combating human trafficking because of their presence in virtually every community—urban, suburban and rural—as well as their often 24/7 operations. Because convenience retail employees observe and communicate with the public so frequently, they are in a unique position to observe indicators of human trafficking while working,” said Jonathan Barry, campaign coordinator for the Blue Campaign.

“Consumers tell us that they have more favorable opinions of business that address important societal issues like fighting human trafficking,” said Jeff Leonard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “A September 2018 NACS consumer survey revealed that 40% of respondents believe human trafficking is an issue that they want our industry to be engaged in fighting, and a February 2019 survey found that 90% say they have a more favorable opinion of stores who fight human trafficking.”

NACS has more information and resources online to help fight human trafficking, including an awareness guide for all convenience-store employees. Read how c-stores like Casey’s and Kum & Go are actively participating in the fight in “In Your Backyard” in the January 2020 issue of NACS Magazine.

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