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January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has partnered with In Our Backyard to help convenience store owners spot and assist potential trafficking victims in their stores. Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) was founded in 2018 to help raise awareness of human trafficking and identify trafficking victims at c-stores.
Trafficking victims are very likely to visit convenience stores because they have public restrooms, are open long hours, and are abundant throughout communities. CSAT says convenience stores are uniquely positioned to help fight against human trafficking and, according to 2018 data collected by NACS, 90% of consumers say they think more favorably of a convenience store when they hear the company is fighting human trafficking.
Stores can help combat human trafficking in a variety of ways, including offering resources and training employees on how to spot potential trafficking victims. Retailers can join CSAT for free and receive pre-packaged materials for each store. Materials include reference sheets for stores to place in employee-only spaces, as well as freedom stickers to place in store restrooms. Freedom stickers offer two different ways to access the national human trafficking helpline, via text or via phone.
Additionally, store owners can offer free training to their employees. The Blue Campaign, an initiative by the Department of Homeland Security, partnered with NACS to create a Human Trafficking Awareness Guide for Convenience Retail Employees. The guide outlines how to spot potential victims, likely trafficking scenarios, and how to report suspected human trafficking. CSAT also accepts requests for in-person training at all-staff meetings and industry trade shows. To join CSAT, visit their website.