Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT)
What is CSAT?
In Our Backyard has developed an innovative new program entitled Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) that is designed to empower the Convenience Store (C-Store industry to industry to fight the atrocity of human trafficking. The program will provide human trafficking awareness and training to store owners, managers and employees in order to connect victims with direct emergency aid. IOB will distribute Freedom Stickers to convenience stores, and retail employees will be trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Research has shown that the most effective place to reach a victim of human trafficking is inside a public restroom stall. Freedom Stickers are adhesive-backed placards designed in collaboration with survivors of human trafficking that are placed inside restroom stalls – the only place where victims are not being watched and are able to contact a hotline for help.
The goal of the program is to reduce human trafficking by establishing convenience stores as trafficking prevention centers in local communities and raising public awareness of the issue. CSAT is the next step in eliminating human trafficking in our backyard.
What is Human Trafficking?
There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world. Drugs can only be sold once. Women, children and men can be sold over and over again for sex and labor. Nationally 450,000 children run away from home each year. 1 out of every 3 runaway teens will be lured toward trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home.
Sex Trafficking is a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud or coercion. If the victim is under the age of 18, then ANY commercial sex act is considered human trafficking even if the minor believes they are doing it of their own volition. Labor Trafficking is using force, fraud or coercion to recruit, harbor, transport, obtain or employ a person for labor or services in involuntary servitude, debt bondage or slavery.
Human trafficking happens 365 days a year in every zip code across America. But there is HOPE. In Our Backyard is linking arms across America in the fight against human trafficking through education, prevention, action, awareness, empowerment and advocacy for survivors.
Why Convenience Stores?
Convenience stores are high-traffic businesses in every city and town in America, frequented by both locals and travelers. Traffickers may bring their victims to convenience stores to purchase fuel, cigarettes, alcohol and condoms, and to clean up in the restroom if they are being trafficked out of a car or alley. C-stores are the eyes and ears in the community and have the opportunity to report trafficking situations while remaining safe.
In Our Backyard is the first anti-trafficking group to engage the c-store industry in this manner and has encountered an overwhelmingly positive response to the program thus far.
CSAT Program Launch
In conjunction with our annual anti-trafficking efforts surrounding the Super Bowl, In Our Backyard held a launch event for CSAT on January 28, 2017 in Houston, TX. Several notable figures were present to offer their support including: Dan Harris, Captain over Vice, Houston Police Department; SSA Al Trible, FBI; Misa Nguyen, Program Director United Against Human Trafficking Houston, and Sherali Haiderali and Ahmed Hasora of the Greater Houston Retailers Association. Additional supporters of the CSAT program that could not be in attendance, sent statements of support which are shown below.
The event concluded with an outreach to convenience stores surrounding NRG stadium and the downtown Houston areas. Teams of trained volunteers followed pre-mapped routes and shared information and materials with convenience store employees and managers regarding human trafficking and missing children. Below are video testimonials from volunteers who participated in our CSAT program launch. These efforts provided awareness and resources to hundreds of convenience stores. The outreach was part of an effort that led to the recovery of missing children who were at risk for being trafficked.
Through a partnership with the Greater Houston Retailers Association, we were able to distribute more than 4,200 Freedom Stickers to convenience stores through the Houston Area. Their support of our program launch was critical to our success and we look forward to forming more partnerships within the c-store industry as we roll-out this national program.
Statements of Support
“The Convenience Stores Against Trafficking project helps educate convenience store owners about trafficking and how they can help. Convenience store owners can enable countless victims to access the assistance they need. I wholeheartedly applaud the work that In Our Backyard has done to combat the scourge of human trafficking in our nation.” – Congressman Ted Poe
“I applaud Convenience Stores Against Trafficking for their commitment to join forces with the growing number of businesses and organizations combatting this issue. They, like the National Runaway Safeline, are on the frontlines, in a great position to offer a lifeline to help and support.” – Maureen Blaha, Executive Director for the National Runaway Safeline
“TAT is excited to see CSAT embark on their critical mission to unite all convenience store workers in combating human trafficking and believe their work has the potential to recover many victims, while closing loopholes traffickers are currently exploiting.” – Kendis Paris, Executive Director for Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT)
“Even one person’s efforts can help save a child. We urge everyone to be apart of the solution by reporting it if they see something suspicious. Together we can show traffickers that their crimes will not be tolerated and show these vulnerable children that someone cares.” – John Clark, CEO National Center for Missing and Exploited Children