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Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Press Conference Brings Awareness to Human Trafficking

Hundreds of Children are Victims of this Crime Across the State

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Tallahassee -- Although many Floridians hear about human trafficking and modern-day slavery, it’s hard for people to recognize that it actually happens in this state and this nation.

The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet held a press conference today to help bring awareness to this terrible crime so every Floridian recognizes the signs of human trafficking and prevent children from becoming victims.

"Human trafficking is one of the most horrific crimes in this state," said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, who is also chair of the Children and Youth Cabinet. "Every Floridian must be aware of this crime so we can quickly move toward the day that children are not being sold and victimized ever again."

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery through forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. In the past year, DCF has investigated more than 400 allegations of human trafficking through child sexual exploitation.

Florida has the third highest rate of trafficking in the nation; half of trafficking victims are children. Our state is a national leader in battling human trafficking and our Human Trafficking Task Forces and law enforcement across Florida work diligently to prevent trafficking and rescue victims.

At the press conference, youth commissioner Matt Morris read a proclamation from Gov. Rick Scott naming January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Florida.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters, chair of the Cabinet’s Human Trafficking Workgroup, spoke about a victim of human trafficking. The girl came from an abusive home and was befriended by an older girl, who then introduced her to a man who began trafficking her for sex at the age of 13. She was rescued and is now working on her Ph.D. in conflict resolution.

"This is dedicated to her and all the others who have succeeded in surviving such a terrible ordeal," said Walters.

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