Campaign a reminder that Georgia’s not buying it
March 21, 2013 12:00 AM | 1682 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mention “Georgia” to most people around the country and they think peaches, peanuts and the Braves. Unfortunately, however, there also are some who, when our state is mentioned, think instead of Atlanta’s reputation as a center for commercial sex — and especially of its reputation as a hub of the child prostitution trade in this country.

It’s no longer a problem that’s flying under the radar. The latest evidence of that comes via the campaign kicked off on Monday by Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and other officials to try and stop it.

The campaign has a name: “Georgia’s Not Buying It.”

It’s being promoted via billboards, a designated website, social media and by a well-done public service announcement made for TV. It features local sportscaster Ernie Johnson Jr. and Tim Hudson of the Atlanta Braves, Harry Douglas of the Atlanta Falcons and Devin Harris of the Atlanta Hawks taking turns speaking out against the buying and selling of underage prostitutes.

Training sessions are planned for workers in the convention and hotel industry, as well as special training for federal, state and local law enforcement agents. And flyers have been produced to give to cab drivers alerting them of “red flag behaviors” of child sex-trafficking victims.

In addition, a “tip line” has been set up at which to report suspicions of such illegal activity. The number is (888) 373-7888.

Although much of the media attention there has been on the problem of underage prostitution has focused on metro Atlanta, it’s also a problem in the state’s smaller locales, Olens points out. He notes that force is usually employed against the girls and young women, and compares the problem to modern-day slavery.

The GBI made 57 arrests for child-sex trafficking and associated crimes last year, according to GBI director Vernon Keenan at the press conference. That’s likely just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the problem. And he and the other leaders noted that it will take more than just more policing to address the problem.

Added U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, “As important as aggressive prosecution is, we are not going to prosecute our way out of the child-sex trafficking problem here in Georgia. In addition to prosecuting trafficking cases, we need to do everything we can to try to stop it from happening to begin with.”

Right. In other words, instead of prosecuting after the fact, it’s just as important if not more so to try and reduce the demand for such acts.

“We’ll continue to go after the pimps and rescue the victims, but we know that the only way to truly eradicate this evil is by ending the demand,” Olens said.

Georgia’s status as a destination for underage-sex trade circles is a blot on the state’s name and one no effort should be spared in trying to eradicate.

The new ad campaign hopefully will get across the message that “Georgia’s Not Buying It” any longer, but also that it’s not selling it, either.

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