SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pledging its commitment to help end human trafficking, Uber has partnered with leading organizations to provide education and awareness to ALL driver-partners across the United States, including launching a new effort to promote the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is operated by Polaris.
Globally, an estimated 25 million people are victims of human trafficking, being forced to work or provide commercial sex against their will. Human trafficking often affects the most vulnerable in our communities, whether adults, teens or children.
“Uber connects millions of people daily all around the globe, and drivers are uniquely positioned to help identify and ultimately prevent human trafficking,” said Tracey Breeden, Uber Safety Communications. “Working together with our national partners, we will utilize our innovation and technology along with the scope and scale of our global community to commit to helping prevent and raise awareness and empower community heroes. Together we can help disrupt and end human trafficking in the cities we serve.
Since 2015, Uber has worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), ECPAT-USA, and The McCain institute to develop resources for drivers to help identify and report human trafficking. Uber is the first and only company in the on-demand space to sign the The Code to protect children from trafficking. Now, working with Polaris, Uber will be proactively providing a way for driver-partners to be aware of and feel comfortable reaching out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
“Both research and experience operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline has shown us that ride sharing services like Uber have a significant role to play in disrupting human trafficking and helping survivors to find freedom,” Said Bradley Miles, CEO of Polaris. “Ensuring that drivers who recognize the signs of human trafficking know that the Hotline is available and can help is an important step toward turning awareness into action and making a real difference in people's lives.”
The Polaris hotline, (888) 373-7888, will be provided to drivers via an in-app message going out to all U.S. drivers this month during Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The message will also include the educational information developed with our expert partners and is also available online.
"I first met with UBER’s team over 4 years ago to encourage them to become involved in the fight against human trafficking before the Arizona Super Bowl. I am so pleased that today, Uber is informing all drivers in the U.S. on the warning signs of trafficking and we are seeing a tangible effect of these efforts in victims being rescued and traffickers arrested,” said Cindy McCain of The McCain Institute Human Trafficking Advisory Council. “I applaud their dedication to this issue and the McCain Institute is pleased to partner with UBER to continue to educate drivers nationally and internationally to spot the signs of human trafficking and know what steps to take if they suspect it.”
Uber has also partnered with Thorn to support their work building technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Thorn builds powerful products, leads new programs, maintains essential resources, and develops awareness campaigns to attack the issue.
“Our recent Survivor Insights report found that 2 out of 3 of child sex trafficking survivors never knew help resources were available to them during their abuse,” said Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn. “Partnering with Uber is an opportunity to ensure that we are attacking this issue from all sides, and today we are empowering drivers to provide help to those in crisis. When we work together we can build a world where every child can be a kid.
In December 2016, a Sacramento area driver helped a girl, aged 16, escape from a human trafficking operation. He noticed suspicious behavior during a trip and reported it to police. He was honored by NCMEC with the Hope Award in 2017. From Phoenix to Philadelphia, drivers have been credited with helping break up operations and aiding victims from human trafficking.
“Child sex trafficking is a significant problem in our country. In 2017 alone, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children responded to more than 10,000 reports of possible child sex trafficking,” said John Clark, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s President and CEO. “Reporting is a critical first step in helping these children and it’s important that more people know how to identify this crime when they see it. Every report is an opportunity to bring the victims the care they need and the justice they deserve.”
The information being sent to drivers this month includes tips on how to spot potential human trafficking and ways to report it. Information will also be sent to riders in Minneapolis ahead of the “The Big Game.”
“As soon as Uber’s Safety team learned about the role they could play in protecting children, they took action. Uber was the first company in the on-demand transportation sector to officially sign The Code, ECPAT-USA’s pledge against trafficking,” said Carol Smolenski Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “We applaud their commitment to preventing human trafficking of any kind on the platform and sharing educational materials that help prepare drivers to recognize the signs associated with the sexual exploitation of children.”
Human trafficking is a problem that impacts all cities and all forms of transportation. The International Labour Organization estimates there are 25 million victims of human trafficking globally. Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
Learn more from our partners about how to identify and report human trafficking here.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST