With nationwide calls to end human trafficking, a Lafayette group is taking part in that movement and is working to raise awareness. Residents brought their concerns to the streets Saturday in hopes of bringing change.
Here in Louisiana, numbers from the Department of Children and Family Services show juveniles make up a majority of victims.
In 2019, juveniles made up 58.6% of human trafficking victims reported through Louisiana's Social Services Agency. Data shows 543 children under the ages of 17 were victims.
Protesters are hoping to be the ones to bring awareness and help change that statistic.
“We just really want to make a difference because we have children and ourselves, and I just know that if it was my child I would be completely devastated. I just want to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves,” said protester Tori Boudreaux.
Some brought their children to the march, saying they were fighting for the voice of children being trafficked because it could happen to any child.
“I wanted my kids to know that this is what’s going on in our world so they are more aware of their surroundings. If they see something they speak up,” said protester Heather Gonian.
“Sex trafficking and kidnapping is not right," added Lacy Gonian. "We need to stop it and I think everybody can make a difference in the world and someone has to start so I’m going to start."
The group says this is the first of many protest they plan on having in and around the Hub City.
“We need to be aware of this and we need to hold our children tighter. Watch our kids, watch what they do on social media things like that. It starts in the home I would really like to see more people get involved,” Adriana Matte said.
The group says they are planning to have another peaceful protest, but have not set a date.
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