Human trafficking is happening every day and everywhere – here in Pennsylvania and across the United States. It's estimated that at least 25 million men, women, and children around the globe are held against their will and trafficked into forced labor and prostitution as a direct result of human trafficking.
Human Trafficking Awareness Day – or #WearBlueDay, an initiative of the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign – is observed on January 11 as a way to raise awareness and put the brakes on this horrific crime.
As the secretary of PennDOT, the agency that oversees programs and policies affecting highways, urban and rural public transportation, airports, railroads, ports, and waterways, I'm well apprised of the role that transportation systems play in helping to perpetuate – or STOP – this epidemic. Traffickers often frequent bus stops or transit centers to find potential victims or use mass transportation to shuttle their victims to and from places where they will be sold. Catching these criminals while in transit is often one of the few opportunities to recognize and report traffickers before the victims disappear.
Since 2016, PennDOT has been a national leader in working with DHS, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other government, non-governmental, law enforcement, and private organizations to make Pennsylvania a safer place and bring those who exploit human lives to justice. To date, PennDOT has trained close to 600 driver license and welcome center employees, as well as almost 15,000 transit agency employees in how to spot the signs. And, our efforts have been employed by other states and jurisdictions across the country.
The key to stopping human trafficking is through education. This #WearBlueDay, join us in wearing blue as we continue to educate our employees and raise awareness among the public.
To learn more about PennDOT's efforts, visit our human trafficking media center. You can also follow the @DHSBlueCampaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information about #WearBlueDay and other campaign efforts throughout the year.