Human Trafficking in the So-Called Friendly Sky

Nancy Rivard brought about the rescue of 82 children illegally transported from the Dominican Republic. She was a passenger on a plane and saw some interactions between a woman and two children that made her suspicious. She called a hotline when she arrived at her destination, and as a result the children were rescued from human trafficking.

She decided to share her powerful knowledge with others in her industry—flight attendants. Read more about her work against human trafficking in the airline industry.

Moved by the impact of a simple phone call, Rivard joined the fight against human trafficking by working to educate other airline personnel. Her experience illustrates both the immense effect that a single person with knowledge of the issue can have.

Rivard teaches her colleagues the “blue lightning” protocol, which was developed by the Department of Homeland Security. Blue lightning is law enforcement code for human trafficking. When a crew member sees a suspicious situation, he or she alerts the flight deck, which then contacts the airline operations ground crew. The ground crew notifies law enforcement while the plane is still in flight. This advance notice gives agents time to research and analyze the situation and act accordingly.

While she’s making an impact within her professions, it’s vital to remember that she saved dozens of kids simply as a passenger who was paying attention and spoke up. That’s something we can all do. So program the Polaris Project hotline in your phone right now, 1-888-3737-888, and keep your eyes open.

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Melissa loves merging her passions for writing and for helping provide restoration for exploited people. She graduated from Miami University with a degree in Adolescent English Education and is a former middle school language arts teacher. She now works full time as an editor. Melissa has visited Freeset in Kolkata, India.

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