human trafficking

Do You Know if Your Child is being Trafficked?

Do You Know if Your Child is being Trafficked?

Here are some quick tips for prevention and red flags that signal danger

Who Cares about Human Trafficking in Acadiana?

It’s so hard to believe that human trafficking exists in Acadiana.  What is human trafficking exactly? Why aren’t we talking about it more? Why aren’t we doing more? How do we recognize the signs? Some of these questions are not easy ones to answer, as we've learned through our Department of Justice. However, as a sexual violence agency for Acadiana, we can educate our community on some of these questions by providing concrete answers.

Human trafficking occurs as either sex trafficking or forced labor/slavery. All forms of trafficking are either forced or coerced. Labor trafficking and slavery involves individuals who are compelled to work or provide a certain service to people or organizations. Sex trafficking is when extortion is used to engage adults in commercial sex (escort services, pornography, illicit massage businesses, brothels, prostitution) or when minors are compelled to perform commercial sex acts whether or not the use of force, fraud, or coercion is used. Unfortunately, many people who are actually being trafficked do not identify themselves as victims. Like many survivors of sexual violence, they have formed a relationship with their abusers.

Because many Louisianians care, many have lobbied and rallied around this issue for years on both a state and federal level. Oftentimes, things seemed to result in little or no avail. Louisiana has recently joined forces with many other states through Governor Edwards’ initiative. This is one of many steps to doing more to stop sexual violence. These funds will hopefully go towards more local police trainings on how to recognize the signs and interceed appropriately. Many are hopeful that more funding will lead to swifter arrests.

A 2018 report on human trafficking released by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services showed a 77% increase in juvenile victims identified over the past year, including more than three times as many victims age 12 and younger, compared to 2016. January is “National Human Trafficking & Slavery Awareness Month.” To learn how you can make a difference, we encourage you to click HERE and share this information with your friends and family.

Keep in mind that websites are often utilized by sex traffickers. In 2018, the federal government seized the Backpage website, which was a leading site for prostitution. The FOSTA bill now allows victims of sex trafficking to file suit against online companies that knowingly facilitate the unlawful act. The personal section on Craigslist has been shutdown in efforts to stop human trafficking. For more on this story, click HERE

This information has been provided by Val Senegal, Education Director of Hearts of Hope. 

The Internet & Cell Phone relationship with Human Trafficking

Still in denial that human trafficking occurs on American soil? Well, it's time to put away that notion and face this very harsh and cruel reality. During 2017, 361 defendants in criminal human trafficking cases saw their charges resolved. Some were convicted of a federal crime, while others were acquitted by a jury or saw the court dismiss the charges against them. Federal courts convicted 95.3% of the resolved defendants, acquitted 1.1% of the resolved defendants, and dismissed charges against 3.6%.

Sex trafficking of minors has the highest conviction rating of 98.2%. The courts sentenced 94.7% of the defendants to some term of imprisonment in 2017, while the remaining 5.3% of sentenced defendants received no term of imprisonment. Seven life sentences were handed down by the court system in 2017, six of which were in sex trafficking cases involving only child victims and one in a sex trafficking case involving both adult and child victims. 

Federal courts ordered 19.9% of the defendants in 54 human trafficking cases to pay restitution to their victims. This represents a slight increase from 2016, where courts ordered 18.2% to pay restitution.The number of victims involved in a criminal human trafficking case is difficult to identify for several reasons- public court documents often identify victims of substantive human trafficking charges using initials, pseudonyms, or "Jane/John Doe" to protect the victim’s privacy. In other charges, such as conspiracy, victims may be grouped together without identifying a specific number. Therefore, the number of victims that public court documents identified are often only a subset of the actual number of victims exploited. 

Commercial sex that is internet based occurs when a defendant’s primary method of soliciting customers for sexual services was through an online website or social media platform. The websites disclosed by the public court documents in 2017 criminal cases included:

A Plus Bunnies, Adult Friend Finder, Adult Hookups, All the Lovers, Backpage, Body Rub Lists, Call Escort, CityVibe, Craigslist, Date Hookup, Eccie, Eros, Erotic Mugshots, Erotic Review, Escorts Click 2 Call, Escorts Forever, Escorts Jiji, Escorts Meet, Escort Profile, Escorts Xport, Evil Empire, Executive Companion, Explicit Chicago, Facebook, Friends 4 Rent, Grindr, Independent Girls, Instagram, Kendra of Atlanta, KiK Messenger, MeetMe, Miss Scarlet White, MocoSpace, MyRedBook, MyProvider, Pinger, Platinum Companions, Plenty of Fish, Seeking Arrangement, A Sexy Service, Skip the Games, Tagged, TNA Board, Whats AppWhisper & Yahoo.

Are any of these apps downloaded on your child's devices? Do you know if your child visited any of these websites? Given all of these facts, isn't it best to start applying more protective measures towards our children and their cell phone usage? To read more of the detailed Federal 2017 report, please click HERE. This information has been provided by Val Senegal, Education Director of Hearts of Hope. 

SnapChat’s “Cosmo After Dark” Is Porn

Cosmo After Dark is a new channel on SnapChat’s “discover” section that goes live every Friday at 6pm. Cosmo describes their new SnapChat feature as “an X-rated weekly edition that is exclusively dedicated to all things hot and horny.” If you look below this article, you'll see some screen shots straight from SnapChat that your kids can easily access on Cosmo After Dark. Be mindful that there's never been any parental controls on SnapChat but if you are reading this with your child, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

Snapchat is a publicly traded company with a strict focus on making money. Social media is a competitive industry and they are doing everything to stay on top. With pornography being a billion dollar industry, what a win-win for the two to join forces," Val Senegal, Hearts of Hope's Education Director.

Now is the time to become the vigilant parent. We have been saying this for two years now, monitor your children's electronics and social media accounts. Use two-party authentication to control their logins and activity. Have access to their accounts on your own devices as well as the passwords. Set strict consequences when they violate any of the ground rules you've laid regarding social media. Have a conversation with them OFTEN about the dangerous effects of pornography. What you do today, matters later when your child becomes an adult.

For further reading, please CLICK. Learn more about Hearts of Hope's #NowMattersL8R program. This information has been provided by Val Senegal, Education Director of Hearts of Hope. 

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Viewer discretion advised



Viewer Discretion Advised

Legislative Bills Alert

Public awareness of what our legislators are doing and how they are voting is extremely important. After all, you vote them in and you have the power to vote them out if you don't think they are doing a good job. If social justice issues regarding sexual & domestic violence are important to you, we want to help get your voice elevated in the community and amplified in the legislator. Learn your legislators by visiting the Louisiana state legislature website. From this website, you can also track bills and track sessions and committees. Start a dialogue with your legislators by sending an email or visiting their social media pages. 

If you are going to a doctor’s appointment, you can actually stream audio of a hearing session to get first hand information. The fact of the matter is TECHNOLOGY FUELS CONSTITUENT COMMUNICATION. Almost every legislator I know relies heavily on their computers to communicate with their constituent.

Click HERE to view the 2018 Legislative results regarding impact for sexual abuse survivors.This information has been provided by Val Senegal, Education Director of Hearts of Hope. 



This information has been provided by Val Senegal, Education Director of Hearts of Hope.