Sometimes you just know something is wrong. Recently, a tour director with International Tour Management Institute was traveling on a ferry in North Carolina when she noticed a family of 10. The parents seemed very young—too young to be the parents of the seven girls and one baby that they were traveling with.
What was odder still was that no one in the family was interacting with each other. No one was talking. No one was holding hands. And the girls just looked frightened. Something just seemed off, the tour director told ECPAT-USA.
Having been trained on the signs of sex trafficking through ITMI, the tour director wondered if this was one of those circumstances she had learned about. When a fellow passenger commented on the family’s behavior, she knew that something was awry. She copied the license plate and called 911, and a call later to the dispatched informed her that the family had been detained.
Since 2004, ECPAT-USA has worked with members of the travel and tourism industry to train associates to recognize and appropriately respond to suspected instances of trafficking. Through our partnerships with the private sector, we are able to give more individuals the tools to help us protect more children at home and abroad from sexual exploitation. While we cannot say conclusively that what the tour director witnessed was an instance of sex trafficking, we can say that without her training, those seven girls’ future would have been even more unclear.
To learn more about ECPAT-USA's work with private sector engagement, click here.