A report from the State of Louisiana shows an alarming 77 percent increase in juvenile human trafficking cases. The number of cases involving minors under the age of 13 increased by a shocking 260 percent over the prior year.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services released a report on February 28 containing alarming statistics about the growth of human trafficking in that state — particularly relating to the sex trafficking of minors. The report covering 2017 reveals a 77 percent increase in juvenile human trafficking victims compared to 2016. Human trafficking of adults and minors combined rose by 52 percent. The victims ranged in age from two-years-old to 65, the report states.
There were 356 cases of human trafficking involving juveniles reported in 2017, officials stated. This compares to only 201 in 2016. Of the 356 cases, 72 of the victims were 12-years-old and younger — an increase of 260 percent over the previous year’s report.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards reacted to the report stating, “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. 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 numbers could be substantially higher as only 24 out of 60 human trafficking victim service organizations report their data to the state. Seven agencies provided initial reports this year which could account for some of the increase in reports, officials stated. One of the largest agencies, HP Serve, could not provide data for 2016 because of flooding but did provide statistics for 2017.
The State’s agency responsible for tracking human trafficking statistics said the some of the service organizations refused to submit data, citing federal confidentiality laws. Other groups simply stated they were not required to submit the data.
“We know trafficking has been happening across our state for a long time. 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,” DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said in a written statement.
The State has been compiling human trafficking information since 2015 when the state’s legislature passed a law requiring the reporting. The four previous reports are archived for review.
Officials reported that 94 percent of the human trafficking victims in 2017 (641) were in the sex trafficking market. Nine other victims were trafficked for forced labor and 28 were both sex and labor trafficking victims.
The victims were classified as female (78 percent), male (six percent), transgendered (one percent). The remaining 15 percent were not identified by gender.
The report identified the leading parishes for juvenile human trafficking as Caddo, Orleans, Jefferson, East Baton Rouge, and St Tammany. East Baton Rouge Parish led the list of adult human trafficking followed by Caddo and Orleans.
The full 2018 Annual Report on Human Trafficking, Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, and Commercial Sexual Exploitation is attached below.
Louisiana ranked as the second-best state for anti-human trafficking laws and services, according to the 2017 report by SharedHope International.