Today, Attorney General Sam Olens announced a statewide campaign, “Georgia’s Not Buying It,” to combat child sex trafficking. He was joined by Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Ed Tarver, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael Moore, District Attorney for the Rome Judicial Circuit and President of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia Leigh Patterson, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, State Senator Renee Unterman, State Representative Ed Lindsey, State Representative Buzz Brockway, and sportscaster Ernie Johnson, Jr.
Underage sex trafficking is modern day slavery in which children are bought and sold for sex through the use of force and coercion. It happens throughout Georgia, from urban areas to small towns, and is often perpetrated in plain sight.
“Georgia’s Not Buying It” is a campaign focused on addressing the demand side of sex trafficking. The market for the sex trade of children is fueled by buyers. The only way to truly eradicate sex trafficking is to end demand. As Olens pointed out at today’s press conference, “When we think of the perpetrators of this horrendous crime, traffickers and pimps immediately come to mind. But, they are not the only ones responsible for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Purchasers are to blame as well.”
The “Georgia’s Not Buying It” campaign is a public-private partnership of the Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement, non-profit advocates Street Grace and youthSpark, and the Governor’s Office of Children and Families. The campaign will feature a PSA starring local pro-athletes Harry Douglas from the Falcons, Devin Harris from the Hawks, and Tim Hudson from the Braves, along with sportscaster Ernie Johnson, Jr. The PSA can be viewed here. The campaign will be publicized throughout the State, including on billboards, local public transit systems, and state parks.
“I appreciate the broad federal, state, local, and non-profit support for this important initiative,” said Olens. “We have made great progress in the fight against sex trafficking in Georgia. I was proud to work with Senator Renee Unterman and Representative Ed Lindsey in 2011 on a law to strengthen the penalties for sex trafficking in Georgia. But, our work is far from over, and that is why I continue to make this issue a priority. Through the ‘Georgia’s Not Buying It’ campaign, we are drawing a line in the sand and telling purchasers of children for sex that their secret is out, and we will not tolerate it in Georgia.”
United States Attorney Michael Moore said, “For far too long, sex trafficking crimes involving underage victims have been something that we have whispered about, perhaps from the pure disbelief at the existence of such a terrible crime or from a sincere hope that education and social service agencies could help make the problem go away. Today, at this event and at others like it, we have come together to raise awareness by joining our voices and shouting out that we won’t tolerate it anymore. From sales conventions and major sporting events in cities like Atlanta, to rural communities where young girls are trucked in to be abused by farm workers, let the word go forth that if you arrange or purchase sex with a child, over the internet or from a pimp on the street, you are just as bad as the sex trafficker, and we’re coming after you.”
“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is fully committed to identifying victims of child exploitation, and, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, bringing to justice those who prey on the children in Georgia,” said GBI Director Vernon Keenan.
“The Study Committee on Human Trafficking last fall highlighted the progress Georgia has made in recent years combating human trafficking and that enormous work is still in front of us,” said Representative Ed Lindsey. “Therefore, I am pleased to carry House Bill 141 which will be a further step in aiding victims of human trafficking.”
As part of the campaign, the Attorney General’s Office has also collaborated with partners to conduct trainings and increase awareness, including:
- A day and a half prosecution training for 42 federal, state, and local law enforcement led by the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute;
- Multiple trainings for the convention and hotel industry; and
- 2000 flyers from the Governor’s Office of Children and Families describing red flag behaviors for child sex trafficking victims distributed to taxi drivers in cooperation with the Atlanta Police Department.
More information on the “Georgia’s Not Buying It” campaign can be found at www.notbuyingit.org.