SAFE CENTRAL: What human trafficking looks like in Central Louisiana

Most victims are trafficked by members of their family.

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) – Human trafficking is a serious issue and threat for everyone, even for us here in Central Louisiana.

The Dept. of Justice describes human trafficking as a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services or sex.

“It doesn’t look like “Taken” from a Hollywood movie,” said Maegan d’Autremont, Trafficking Coordinator at the Children’s Advocacy Network.

Since 2018, the Children’s Advocacy Network has seen 79 confirmed and high-risk trafficking cases in our area. D’Autremont said most trafficking victims in Central Louisiana are trafficked by members of their family.

“It’s a term called ‘familial trafficking’ that refers to family members actually being the traffickers,” she said.

She believes poverty plays a role in children being abused or exploited.

“When you don’t have running water, food or money to pay the bills…you will find alternative ways to survive,” she said. “Sometimes people are willing to put their kids at risk to supply that need.”

One way to help prevent human trafficking is by understanding the warning signs. D’Autremont said changes to a child’s behavior in school, having an older dating partner or showing signs of physical abuse are some of the things to look out for.

“A lot of kids that deal with self-harm, depression or anxiety are more vulnerable in high school to exploit themselves and not even know it,” she said.

The number to the National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-(888) 373-7888.