Report: Human trafficking up 25 percent in Louisiana
LOUISIANA (KSLA) - A 2017 report says human trafficking is up 25 percent, with 447 victims reported for the 2016 calendar year, compared to 357 during the previous year.
According to the report, almost half (201) of the victims (or 45 percent) were children, and 20 of these (4 percent) were age 12 and under.
"This report is undeniable evidence human trafficking exists, and it's a significant threat to our children and young people. In fact, with these reports, we believe we're just scratching the surface," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters.
Only 17 of 59 Louisiana Human Trafficking providers supplied data for the report, a result Department of Child and Family Service's staff hope to increase in the future.
"By increasing coordination between law enforcement, service providers, and others, we can work together in every part of the state to fight human trafficking, identify victims and get them the resources they need," Walters said.
Other findings from the report:
• Caddo and Orleans Parishes were the two most frequently identified parishes for trafficking and parish of origin.
• Data for East Baton Rouge Parish was impacted in the 2017 submission, because the major provider, HP-Serve, lost the majority of its records in August flooding.
• 90% of victims were female; 8% were male and 2% were transgender
• The age range of sexual trafficking victims was 2-55.
DCFS says they are developing more effective screening tools, as well as training for staff and strategic partners to better identify victims and understand how to work with them.
The department has reportedly partnered with Louisiana State Police, the courts and service providers to develop a more comprehensive infrastructure and response to human trafficking, including trauma-focused service providers and specialized placement that is more responsive to victims' needs.
The department plans on joining state, legislative and law enforcement officials for a ribbon cutting of the Metanoia residential facility for adolescent trafficking victims.
"This year's human trafficking report reveals the extent to which some people will go to victimize children and young adults. Metanoia will be a refuge. I'm honored to have played a part in bringing it to light," said Sen. Ronnie Johns of Lake Charles, who sponsored several pieces of anti-trafficking legislation, including a measure establishing Metanoia.
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