'Modern-day slavery'

Horrors of sex trafficking surface in Georgians' own back yard

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You see far too many child molestation cases in the news these days – either because the number of them has gone up or our tolerance for them has gone down. Or perhaps it’s both.

Either way, one of the most disturbing such stories, of late, involves a former mental health technician at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia indicted in alleged molestations there of three young patients in 2010 and 2012. He has since been fired.

The case is all the more aggravated by the fact that, while children are vulnerable to begin with, in a health-care setting they are at their most susceptible; trust and care is at a premium there.

We know the hospital is more horrified than any of us, and we trust the court system will deal with the perpetrator appropriately if convicted.

But there’s another kind of case in which sex and molestations are combined with a hideous profit motive: sex trafficking.

It sounds like something that occurs far away from your hometown. But sex trafficking – in which a girl, often a minor, is forced into sex slavery to enrich their captor/pimps – can be found nearly everywhere, including in Georgia.

Indeed, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has a unit devoted to it, says it made 57 arrests for child sex trafficking and related crimes last year. Meanwhile, a Georgia trooper recently discovered a captive teenage girl in a car he stopped on I-20. And in another case, federal authorities say Edwin “Boo” Barcus Jr., 27, of Georgia ran a multistate sex trafficking operation that included 23 females – four of whom were 16 and three of whom were 17 when they started. Various of the women and girls, some of whom were runaways or from broken homes, would be beaten and threatened and/or plied with alcohol and drugs in order to coerce their cooperation. He faces 20 years to life, after pleading guilty in federal court.

Few other criminal enterprises are as heinous, inhumane and contemptible.

Georgia authorities are cracking down, even on those patronizing the sex slaves. And Attorney General Sam Olens and several U.S. attorneys, including Augusta’s own Ed Tarver, have joined in a “Georgia’s Not Buying It” public awareness campaign on sex trafficking.

“Underage sex trafficking is modern day slavery in which children are bought and sold for sex through the use of force and coercion,” Olens said in a press release. “It happens throughout Georgia, from urban areas to small towns, and is often perpetrated in plain sight. ...

“The market for the sex trade of children is fueled by buyers. The only way to truly eradicate sex trafficking is to end demand.”

It’s doubtful that television commercials or billboards will shame anyone out of patronizing an underage sex slave – but the campaign featuring Atlanta sports stars and involving public and private organizations will help raise public awareness. And that’s a start.

The state also has stepped up training for prosecutors, law officers and even hotel, convention and taxi workers – to help them see the red flags, as the trooper did.

The cooperation of state and federal authorities has been inspiring. We know their work is insanely difficult and dangerous and too often thankless. But we applaud them all.

As far as “fighting the good fight,” this is as good a fight as there is.

Sex trafficking isn’t something that only happens in distant lands. And it’s not something we can afford to ignore or talk about only in whispers.

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specsta
6355
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specsta 03/25/13 - 02:24 am
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2
The Real Story

While human trafficking does occur, if you analyze data from the GAO and other resources such as police reports, it becomes clear that the Justice Department and various task forces investigated about 100 cases of child trafficking in a one-year period.

That's 100 kids identified as being trafficked.

Once again, we have an overblown problem.

Compare this figure with cases of children abused and neglected by their parents - twenty-seven children die every week in America at the hands of their parents, making the US the WORST country in the industrialized world for child abuse.

But those stories don't make the editorial pages or the nightly news sound bites. But add a term like "sex" to human trafficking, throw in some bogus figures, and the whole country reacts with new laws, new organizations to "protect" the children, and a lot of folks get grant money and federal funds to help the cause.

Meanwhile, the poor children who have insufficient food, sleep with roaches and rats, and are beaten with wire hangars and wooden sticks, suffer silently while America turns its face away from their miserable lives. Folks don't like to think about or talk about parents abusing their kids. If a stranger were killing (stranger danger!) twenty-seven kids every week, there would be task forces, Congressional hearings, Homeland Security investigations and every thing else - but because it is children dying at the hands of their parents, it seems like it's no big deal to most folks.

Something is amiss in this country. By focusing on almost non-existent crimes, like underage human trafficking, compared to the estimated 2 million neglected and abused children in the US, we miss the bigger picture of the true plight of some children in this country.

http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-06-29/news/real-men-get-their-facts-str...

Riverman1
82181
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Riverman1 03/25/13 - 04:59 am
4
2
Absolutely Bogus Problem

The Chronicle has fell victim to this fallacy of hundreds of thousands of children being sold into slavery. It's all a made-up crisis. It has the vaguest scientific methodolgy. Those trying to scare the public claim those teens who live near the Canadian of Mexican borders are at risk because they go over into those countries on weekends. Huh? The facts are teens go over into Mexico to drink and party. It has nothing to do with child slavery. If thousands of children were actually being sold into slavery we would have the FBI working overtime and calling out the National Guard. The Chronicle is out to lunch on this one as are most of the Hollywood stars claiming hundreds of thousands of American kids are sold into sex slavery. I encourage everyone to read the link Spectra posted as I did.

Little Lamb
45281
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Little Lamb 03/25/13 - 07:51 am
4
1
Perfection

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said, “The only way to truly eradicate sex trafficking is to end demand.”

Then, I guess we’ll never eliminate it.

seenitB4
85288
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seenitB4 03/25/13 - 07:56 am
4
0
Atlanta has it

Maybe not the CSRA but too much of it in the Atlanta area.

seenitB4
85288
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seenitB4 03/25/13 - 07:57 am
3
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Yep

LLamb...you are right....too much demand..

carcraft
25175
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carcraft 03/25/13 - 08:04 am
2
1
Specstra Good link! These

Specstra Good link! These types of "crisis "jinned up by bogus research and badly drawn conclusions are a problem! Yes it does exist but not to the extent the editorial would have us believe! Having sex with a minor is repulsive! I have grand children the age of some of these children!

itsanotherday1
41946
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itsanotherday1 03/25/13 - 08:37 am
3
0
“The market for the sex trade

“The market for the sex trade of children is fueled by buyers. The only way to truly eradicate sex trafficking is to end demand.”

Why isn't this thinking used for the drug trade as well?

LillyfromtheMills
12890
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LillyfromtheMills 03/25/13 - 08:41 am
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Little Lost Girls

All I have to say about that is I hope/pray if I was that little girl ya'll would come and get me!!!

itsanotherday1
41946
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itsanotherday1 03/25/13 - 08:45 am
2
1
"You see far too many child

"You see far too many child molestation cases in the news these days – either because the number of them has gone up or our tolerance for them has gone down. Or perhaps it’s both."

I'm not so sure it is more prevalent. The data I read suggests that during my generation's youth, children just didn't tell. I know in my own family, my mother says there was an uncle of hers that they were fairly sure had molested his daughters. Too much shame all the way around to air it out in those days.

LillyfromtheMills
12890
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LillyfromtheMills 03/25/13 - 10:29 am
1
0
Day1

And then you have men in authority that try to do this to young women - it happened to me - my boss put his hand on my knee- well, when he got up off the floor, he didn't do it again - thank God I wasn't with thugs - I would have gotten my fanny (Sean won't let me use the word) kicked.

DanK
779
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DanK 03/25/13 - 02:28 pm
1
3
One is too many

Well, unlike everyone here, including the ACES, I have actually read the *research* that has been published on this issue. I have read the research published by the University of Pennsylvania professors, and I have read a lot of other research on the international sex trade.

It's true that a lot of the media yammering is overblown, and the numbers thrown around by the stars are misconstrued. However, it is also true that there are a lot of kids out there who are in situations where sex is their means for survival. It is their currency. How many? The numbers thrown around are inflated -- and those numbers do not come from the researchers.

But one kid forced into a life of prostitution is too many.

At greatest risk are kids who end up on the streets. They are commonly the victims of abuse at home, or abandoned, or passed through multiple foster care situations. They take off to escape the abuse. On the streets, they get pulled into drugs and prostitution to survive. This is not just girls -- it is boys as well.

They can be easily lured into situations where someone offers to "take care of them" by offering a place to stay and a supply of drugs. They pay with sex and porn activities. They often perceive it as safer than street prostitution.

A lot of these kids do get trafficked overseas. They are offered the opportunity to see the world. They pay with sex. There is a big demand for American girls in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe.

How prevalent is it? Well, it's hard to count the number of kids on the streets. Minors picked up for prostitution are usually out on the streets again pretty quickly and they move from city to city.

How much actual trafficking is there? Well, it's really just a part of the overall sex industry. Teen prostitution involves pimps just as adult prostitution does.

Are the kids "slaves"? Well, I guess it is a matter of definition. If you offer sex in exchange for a roof over your head, safety, food, and drugs, there are some who would say that you are not a slave, you are there by choice, that you are selling yourself into slavery.

But the reality, no kid dreams of this as the life they want. No kid aspires to be a prostitute. And most are never arrested, just as most adult prostitutes are never arrested. So there are more than the police records document, but fewer than the over-inflated media numbers.

Still, one is too many.

LillyfromtheMills
12890
Points
LillyfromtheMills 03/25/13 - 02:36 pm
2
1
I agree

One is too many - but a pipe dream. These poor children make money prostituting because they are off the grid - their families have given up on them and they are drug addicts.

Riverman1
82181
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Riverman1 03/25/13 - 04:45 pm
3
0
Of course one is too many

Lilly, of course one is too many, but it's the same thing as when the kidnapping of children was exaggerated. Most of those were family disputes. We are far too ready to slam the way things are in America and they're not nearly as bad as some make out as with this editorial.

LillyfromtheMills
12890
Points
LillyfromtheMills 03/25/13 - 07:39 pm
0
0
RM

Just come get me if I'm in trouble - can't even imagine this!!

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