BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards held the first statewide symposium on ending human trafficking on Wednesday. 600 of the state's key leaders and stakeholders together to discuss the issue.
"The fight to end human trafficking is a responsibility we all must share, from law enforcement and policymakers to educators and faith-based leaders," Gov. Edwards said during the event.
"Human trafficking seems like a foreign issue, but it is a local issue as Louisiana is among the top trafficked states in the country," added First Lady Donna Edwards. "It is our responsibility as a community, citizens, and Louisianans to rescue these young ladies in need."
Over 1,000 human trafficking cases have been reported to state police over the past three years. The number of human trafficking cases rose by 25 percent in 2016, according to the governor's office. Nearly half of the 477 confirmed or high-risk cases involved minors being sexually exploited.
The Governor's Office of Programs and Planning and the Children's Cabinet have taken the lead in identifying key partners and securing grant funding from the National Criminal Justice Center to host regional trafficking summits throughout the state in an effort to raise awareness and invite citizens and stakeholders to join the movement of fighting against human trafficking.