LSF Health Systems and Partners Work Tirelessly to End Human Trafficking

Annual Human Trafficking Symposiums bring lawmakers and stakeholders together.

The 3rd annual Human Trafficking Symposium, hosted by the Gateway to Fr33dom Human Trafficking Task Force, was held on January 22 in Lake City.  LSF Health Systems’ (LSF) Community Engagement Specialist Lesley Hersey is the co-chair of the task force.  More than 170 people attended this year’s event, including law enforcement, school nurses, employees with the Florida Department of Health, as well as child welfare and behavioral health advocates.  Attendees heard presentations, including a survivor presentation.  A statewide, award-winning drama team performed as well.  Other topics included how to build rapport with youth being trafficked and how to get involved in the fight against trafficking.  A special thank-you was noted for the Columbia County School Board, which held the event in its auditorium in Lake City.  Agencies report that more than 50 youth were involved in cases of human trafficking in circuits 3 and 8 in the last two years, including four cases in the news in those circuits from May to August 2019.  “Human Trafficking is the silent epidemic affecting our communities and we are bringing light to the horrendous crime in order to end it,” says Hersey.

Corporal Alan Willkett from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office speaks at the Human Trafficking Symposium.
Julie Sercus with the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution (left) and Christina Gillis of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Meanwhile, on January 29th in Daytona Beach, LSF co-sponsored a Human Trafficking Symposium covering Florida’s Circuit 7.  There were 127 people in attendance for this soon-to-be annual event, which was also sponsored by HOPE agency.  Event sessions included presentations by Florida Prosecutor Julie Sercus as well as Dr. Patrick “Doc” Nave from Bikers Against Human Trafficking along with a survivor presentation.  Evening events included parents and children for separate sessions, with parents learning how to monitor their child’s social media and children learning how social media can be used to lure them to human trafficking

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