Iowa school bus drivers join fight against human trafficking

DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) - Nearly 250,000 children ride on school buses in Iowa everyday, and now school bus drivers are going the extra mile to keep kids safe.

Drivers are now required to learn how to identify warning signs that a child is being trafficked.

The United Nations International Children's Fund says that human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world and up to half of the victims are children.

The Iowa Department of Education responded to that alarming trend by pushing Iowa to become the first state in the nation to require school bus drivers undergo training to recognize warning signs.

Bus drivers are now watching videos, reading literature and being quizzed on signs of human trafficking.

They are being trained to look for bruises, changes in clothing and behavior, abnormal absences and unexpected gifts.

A responsibility that some bus drivers say they're happy to take on and leaders say is very practical.

"Unfortunately we have seen human trafficking cases that can be as young as 10, 11, 12 years old," said Dave Lorenzen, Chief of Motor Vehicle Enforcement for the Iowa Department of Transportation. "These bus drivers see these kids every day, and they can tell if there is something not going right."

In addition to this new requirement, Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign a proclamation declaring January Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month on January 17.

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