Slavery

Fourteen

Atlanta is one of 14 United States cities with the highest rate of children used in prostitution.

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a seminar held by a United Methodists Women’s Circle on the topic of sex trafficking.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, sex trafficking is defined under these guidelines:

A person commits sex trafficking when he/she: a) recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains another person to engage in sexually explicit conduct, or knowingly subjects a person to engage in sexually explicit conduct, for which anything of value is directly or indirectly given, promised, or received by any person; b) uses coercion or deception to induce or obtain sexually explicit conduct from another; or c) induces or obtains sexually explicit conduct from a minor person age 17 or younger).

The first time I heard about human trafficking was in 2007, after the release of the film Amazing Grace the year before. It was during an assembly held at my high school, in which we were made aware of the very real problem of sexual exploitation of both adults and minors.

The statistics are appalling. And I had no idea how much happens right here in Atlanta.

The FBI released a report with statistics in which Atlanta was found to be in the 14 US cities with the highest rate of sexual exploitation of children.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation did a comprehensive study of human trafficking in Georgia. They found that 63% of law enforcement polled in the State of Georgia said they did not feel adequately trained to handle cases involving sex trafficking.

Innocence Atlanta posted statistics revealing that 40.4% of all suspected trafficking incidents were child-related and classified as “prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child”.

It’s easy to lose hope when looking at the numbers. But the fact that there are people behind these numbers sparks me to action. There is hope. Groups like youthSpark are working on prevention and care for victims of sex trafficking. The Polaris Project is actively combatting modern-day slavery. Not For Sale envisions a world in which every person knows that they are not for sale. There are several pro-active organizations listed on the End It movement’s website.

You can get involved. You can help. You can take action.

Atlanta is one of 14 US cities with the highest rating of children in prostitution.

Let’s change that number to 13.