LOUISIANA (KSLA) - A 2018 report on human trafficking showed a 77 percent increase in juvenile victims identified over the past year according to the Department of Children and Family Services.
The result included trafficking of children for sexual purposes and commercial sexual exploitation. Findings show that Caddo and Orleans Parishes were the most frequently identified for trafficking and parishes of origin for juveniles.
The data also show more than three times as many victims age 12 and younger compared to 2016.
Overall, 681 confirmed and perspective, adult and juvenile victims of trafficking were identified in 2017, compared to 447 in 2016, according to the report from the DCFS.
The victims ranged from 2 to 65 years old. Over half of the victims — 356 — were juveniles. Seventy-two were age 12 or younger.
"Victims of human trafficking are frequently members of vulnerable populations, including domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, homeless or runaway youth, and even young children," said Gov. John Bel Edwards. "It is modern-day slavery, it is happening right here in our state, and it is our responsibility to fight to put an end to it. We must all band together to bring every resource to bear against this cruel and dangerous epidemic,"
The total of adult human trafficking victims rose 25.7 percent. A total of 56 confirmed or prospective victims were of unknown or unreported age. For adults, Caddo parish came in second for trafficking and parish of origin. East Baton Rouge came in first and was again followed by Orleans Parish.
The DCFS report also says the increases can be attributed partly to a rise in the number of agencies providing data and to increased efforts in identifying victims.
"We know trafficking has been happening across our state for a long time," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters in a news release." We're glad to get more data and information, thanks to these service providers, to underscore the need and enable our communities to respond. What this shows us is that no community is immune, and our children are among those most at risk."