As a retired deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Children and Family Services, I was beyond outraged by state Rep. Kenny Havard’s public attempt at humor.

For 36 years, I dedicated my life to serving the abused and neglected children of Louisiana. These children do not have a voice; they do not have a vote. They are dependent on the underpaid state employees to speak for them and work toward improving their lives. It requires a great deal of empathy, guts, skill and personal sacrifice to serve these children and families.

Many homeless, runaway and former foster children are further abused in the human trafficking business — often in strip clubs.

Havard should be the voice of these children and young women. But instead, he chose to publicly make a joke that trivialized the human trafficking legislation. It is appalling that he showed such blatant disrespect for the children and women he is elected to represent. I am embarrassed for him and for the state of Louisiana.

If this is just lack of knowledge on the representative’s part, he could reach out to the department and it would be gracious enough to educate him. I want to believe his actions were just misguided. If so, he should publicly apologize. Further, he could become an advocate in the Legislature and community for the department and for the underrepresented clients it serves.

CONNIE N. WAGNER

retired deputy assistant secretary,

Department of Children and Family Services

Baton Rouge