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State officials meet over human trafficking

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State officials are trying anything and everything to stop the growing problem of human trade in the state. As Matt Galka tells us, officials met Tuesday to mull over future ideas to try and get a handle on the problem.

Florida has a human trafficking problem. The state ranks third in the country in human trafficking cases and state officials have been desperately trying to slow it down.

"By understanding what drives the demand for human trafficking, we know what we're up against to end human trafficking," said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Florida's Attorney General led the annual statewide council on Human Trafficking meeting in Orlando Tuesday. Officials considered ideas to combat the epidemic.

"A big part of prevention is education, so what we'll be looking at in education is everything from what we do to reach out to schools," said Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll.

Lawmakers have been trying to clamp down the past few years. Officers were recognized at Missing Children's Day this week for their efforts.

Domestic and sexual advocates who are in the field and see human trafficking everyday say there's plenty of work to be done.

Refuge House Executive Director Meg Baldwin says she'd like to see more efforts to stop prostitutes from going back to a life on the street…and to stop solicitors from picking them up.

"Looking ahead I think there's going to be a lot more focus on intervening on the demand side of prostitution and trafficking which is what really drives the whole industry," she said.

Legislation passed this year puts solicitors, known as Johns, into a diversion program. Baldwin says the recidivism rate for those receiving intervention is nearly zero.

The law stiffening penalties and utilizing diversion programs for soliciting prostitution goes into effect Oct. 1. A Human Trafficking Summit is planned for the end of October in Tampa.