New campaign aims to disrupt child sex trafficking on public transit

Jan. 10, 2024
Protect All Children from Trafficking has launched the Transit Against Child Trafficking program to enable riders and transportation employees to become more than bystanders in the event of a trafficking situation.

A new research-based behavioral change campaign has been launched by Protect All Children from Trafficking (PACT), aimed at disrupting child sex trafficking at the intersection of public transportation.

By educating public transportation riders and employees on how to identify the signs of child sex trafficking and safely report, PACT hopes to enable riders and transportation employees to become more than bystanders in the event of a trafficking situation.

The campaign — Transit Against Child Trafficking (TACT) — is initially launching with two transit partners: Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) in the Albany region of New York and Rio Metro Regional Transit District in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe region of New Mexico. The campaign is being developed in collaboration with survivors of child sex trafficking who are part of PACT Survivors' Council. Using learnings from this first phase, the campaign will be rolled out in other regions over the next year in partnership with other transit agencies.

TACT's public awareness and education campaign will include social media, text messages, email communications, advertisements in and around public transit locations, signage in and on buses and trains and within transit authority offices, as well as training recommendations developed for transit personnel.
“Through our research and our many conversations with survivors, PACT recognizes that sex traffickers exploit public transportation to move their victims in plain sight of people going about their day,” said PACT CEO Lori L. Cohen. “Through this campaign, we will equip public transportation riders and employees with credible information to increase their awareness about child sex trafficking and the tools to respond to it safely.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking has acknowledged a lack of national data on the intersections between transportation industries and human trafficking. PACT notes typically data is fragmented, with only regional numbers and local statistics available in the country, failing to provide a holistic view of the issue. PACT is leading a federally-funded research project in partnership with a team of researchers, which will produce one of the only national reports about child sex trafficking at the intersection of public transportation to paint a more complete picture of the landscape.

“CDTA is proud to be a leader in educating the public on this important issue,” said CDTA CEO Carm Basile. “USDOT created an advisory council because they recognize the work that needs to be done across the transit industry. Educating the community on what signs to look for and how to report potential incidents safely and effectively without causing further harm makes our region as a whole safer. If we can contribute in some small way to make a difference, we have a responsibility to our community and those children to participate.”

“We want to ensure that everyone who relies on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express or one of our Rio Metro buses is safe – especially our young riders,” said Robert Gonzales, director of operations for Rio Metro. “We will do everything we can to inform our transit passengers on what they can do to protect the youngest members of our communities.”