Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others [Wikipedia]. It sounds like something out of the movies and that only happens in major cities and in other countries. Unfortunately, not only does it happen everywhere, but Shreveport is an actual hub for human trafficking. In 2015, the FBI recovered 13 child sex trafficking victims in Caddo-Bossier. That same year, over 100 sex trafficking victims were identified across the state, the youngest being a 6-year-old child.

In response to that, and to further the efforts to stop these horrific acts, the office of the Caddo Parish District Attorney is joining the rest of the nation is marking January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Caddo DA Spokesman John Prime tells us that the DA is launching a social media campaign to spread awareness of what could be going on in our neighborhoods:

The social media campaign will feature community members posting pictures with signs conveying a range of anti-trafficking memes, saying "Real Men Don’t Buy Girls," "Real Men Don't Buy Boys" and "Real Men Don’t Buy Sex."

The Caddo DA’s office has partnered with the FREE Coalition, the Community Response Team and other law enforcement and social service providers working on the front lines to identify victims, to empower survivors and to prosecute traffickers.

Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Holly McGinness, who has prosecuted numerous human trafficking cases, is trying to spread the word to every resident.

The purpose of the awareness and prevention campaign is to shed light on the realities of sex trafficking in our community. Many residents do not realize human trafficking is happening right here in Caddo/Bossier. Our goal is to educate on how to recognize the red flags and how to report to authorities so that we can connect victims to safety, resources, and healing.

In order to amplify this work and disrupt traffickers’ ability to do business in Caddo/Bossier, we as a community must be informed and active. It is imperative that we educate our community and widen our safety net. The FREE Coalition has provided training for over 4,000 individuals here locally and our goal for 2017 is to train even more community members, service providers, teachers and law enforcement officers.

Thursday, January 5, 2017, the Caddo Parish Commission passed a resolution that addressed the issue.

"Today, millions of men, women and children are victims of human trafficking," the resolution stated in part. "These victims face cruelty that has no place in a civilized world. It is a crime that takes many forms and one that tears at the social fabric, debases our common humanity and violates what we stand for as a country and as a people."