|BATON ROUGE – Louisiana has launched a hotline for receiving reports of suspected juvenile sex trafficking, centralizing the calls to ensure closer coordination between state agencies, law enforcement, and service providers tasked with investigating cases, helping victims to safety and advocating on their behalf.
Under Act 662 of the 2022 Legislative Session, authored by Sen. Beth Mizell, all cases of suspected juvenile sex trafficking will now be reported through the Department of Children and Family Services’ child abuse/neglect hotline, as of January 1, 2023. The hotline (1-855-4LA-KIDS or 1-855-452-5437) is toll-free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
All cases reported to DCFS will be forwarded to the Louisiana State Police for investigation and/or distribution to the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction. If the report includes allegations of parental or caretaker involvement in the trafficking or in other forms of abuse/neglect, DCFS will also investigate. Working with the state’s Child Advocacy Centers and other service providers, DCFS also will make available care coordination and advocacy services for victims.
“It’s important for the public to know that human trafficking is still the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the United States and is a serious problem across Louisiana and across all backgrounds,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We can all agree that the impact of COVID-19 has only exacerbated this epidemic and while there is much more work to be done, I remain hopeful because of the committed and collective efforts of my wife Donna, Louisiana lawmakers, key state and local agencies, survivors and all those working in the trenches every day to serve children and families. Their work is making a positive difference, and the passage of this new law continues to move Louisiana in the right direction in addressing this heinous crime.”
“The evil of trafficking creates victims of children everywhere – even right here in Louisiana,” said Sen. Beth Mizell. “To fight back we must first be able to recognize it. Fighting back requires the public, law enforcement and our judicial stakeholders to work together. Our Department of Children and Family Services will be the connecting agency on a call that brings protection for the victims and punishment of the trafficker. I am hopeful of the impact we will see with this step.”
“Child exploitation investigations have been a priority for the Louisiana State Police Special Victims Unit,” stated Colonel Lamar Davis, Louisiana State Police Superintendent. “Far too often, children are the victims of sex trafficking and preyed upon by their captors. LSP will continue to seek justice for all victims through investigative partnerships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and through public education. By adding this hotline, we are creating an even more direct link of communication with citizens that can assist us in rescuing those affected.”
“Having a central point for receiving these calls is a vital advancement in the State’s work of protecting children,” said DCFS Secretary Terri Ricks. “Combatting the crime of human trafficking and ensuring children are brought to safety requires the efforts of multiple agencies and partners across the state. This hotline strengthens that network by allowing us all to work each case from a single entry point.”
The hotline for reporting juvenile sex trafficking is the latest tool in the state’s expanding effort to combat the crime. In 2021, through passage of Senate Bill 170, the state created the Office of Human Trafficking Prevention within the Governor’s Office in an effort to coordinate the state’s human trafficking response. The office provides information about what human trafficking is, how to spot it, and resources available for victims and survivors, on the office’s website at https://humantrafficking.la.gov.
How to Report Juvenile Sex Trafficking
To report suspected juvenile sex trafficking, mandated reporters and the general public must call the DCFS child abuse/neglect hotline at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) and select option #4. The hotline is toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Callers may choose to identify themselves and leave callback information or to remain anonymous. While confidentiality laws may prevent callers from learning the outcome of a case they reported, identifying and reporting trafficking is everyone’s responsibility and every single call seeking to help a child or youth in need of intervention is truly appreciated.
A list of information that would be helpful to an investigation of potential juvenile sex trafficking is posted on the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/page/juvenile-sex-trafficking. However, even if someone does not have the information listed, they should not hesitate to call the hotline if they suspect a child is being or has been trafficked.
For more information about human trafficking prevention in Louisiana, visit https://humantrafficking.la.gov.