Atlanta Initiative Aims to Stamp Out Child Prostitution
Child sexual exploitation is a topic few people can stomach, but unfortunately, adolescent girls are being commercially exploited for sexual purposes here in Georgia to the tune of 250 children per month. That means that more adolescent girls are harmed by commercial sexual prostitution (i.e. prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography) each month than are killed in car accidents in an entire year. And child sexual exploitation is not just an inner city problem. The problem is statewide and pervasive.
Child sexual exploitation is a chilling problem and one that we all like to think could never happen in our backyard. But fortunately for these suffering young girls, they now have advocates in Georgia – a public/private partnership called A Future, Not a Past.
Atlanta has been identified by the FBI as one of the top hubs in the nation when it comes to child prostitution. That means that children can been seen on the city streets offering sexual services and that child sex trafficking rings often transport children through Atlanta on the way to other destinations.
A Future, Not a Past was started as the result of this finding. Run by the Juvenile Justice Fund, A Future Not a Past seeks to prove that young girls who find themselves caught up in prostitution are not, in fact, criminals, but victims of the adult criminals who serve as their pimps and traffickers. Through research, intervention, prevention and education, A Future, Not a Past strives to curb child prostitution through whatever means possible.
So far, efforts have included a study, which found that 65% of men searching for sex on popular web sites like Craigslist respond to advertisements promising “young” girls. They have also attempted educated the public about the supply and demand side of child commercial sexual exploitation. As long as “johns” suffering relatively few consequences for pay for sex with children and teens, the problem will continue.
A Future, Not a Past also holds public events such as classes and seminars to educate the public about the facts of child commercial sexual exploitation and what they can do to aid the fight. One bright note comes from the law enforcement community. Because Atlanta has been identified as a hub, and because internet-related sexual transactions often cross state lines, the FBI has joined state and local law enforcement to curb child commercial exploitation.
But A Future, Not a Past can’t do it alone. It will take the efforts of all Georgians to stamp out this insidious and heartbreaking tragedy. The A Future, Not a Past website includes information on the warning signs that a child might be a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. If you suspect that a child is being commercially sexually exploited, contact law enforcement or one of the below resources immediately:
Georgia Statewide Tip Line
National Center For Missing and Exploited Children Hotline
Dear John Hotline