ATLANTA — Georgia’s attorney general and other law enforcement officials kicked off a public awareness campaign Monday to target sex trafficking, with the focus on those who pay for sex.
The campaign bears the slogan “Georgia’s not buying it” and includes a public service announcement featuring professional athletes from Atlanta sports teams speaking out against sex trafficking.
The campaign also is being promoted through billboards, a Web site and on social media.
“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,” Attorney General Sam Olens said.
He likened underage sex trafficking, in which children are bought and sold for sex through the use of force, to modern-day slavery. It is a problem throughout Georgia, in both urban areas and in small towns and rural areas, he said.
The campaign is a public-private partnership involving Olens’ office, law enforcement, nonprofit advocates Street Grace and youthSpark, and the Governor’s Office of Children and Families.
Olens was joined for the announcement by Georgia’s three U.S. attorneys, state prosecutors, state lawmakers and the heads of the Atlanta police department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“As important as aggressive prosecution is, we are not going to prosecute our way out of the child sex trafficking problem here in Georgia,” said Sally Quillian Yates, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta. “In addition to prosecuting trafficking cases, we need to do everything we can to try to stop it from happening to begin with.”
The GBI unit that focuses on sex trafficking made 57 arrests for child sex trafficking and related crimes last year, said GBI Director Vernon Keenan, but law enforcement’s work must be supplemented by advocacy and social services.
A short public service announcement unveiled at the launch features athletes Harry Douglas from the Falcons, Devin Harris
from the Hawks, and Tim Hudson from the Braves, along with sportscaster Ernie Johnson Jr.
The campaign includes training for local, state and federal law enforcement agents; training sessions for the convention and hotel industry; and fliers for taxi drivers that describe red flag behaviors for child sex trafficking victims.