In May 2018, the FBI conducted a series of investigations in Georgia that helped recover 149 missing and exploited children ages 3-17 in the state. Unfortunately, child trafficking has become a serious issue in the state as many traffickers see children as an easy target. Children are typically more gullible and vulnerable than adults and can be reached easily through social media, telephone chat-lines, friends, and at malls and clubs. In an effort to protect our children, it is important to familiarize yourself with human trafficking laws in Georgia and learn how to detect a child trafficking victim and report the crime so that we can help rid our state of child trafficking.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a crime under both federal and Georgia state law that can result in a lifetime prison sentence. It involves using force, fraud, or coercion to induce an individual to perform sexual acts for money or various types of labor. Essentially, human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. When children under the age of 18 are involved in human trafficking, the crime is referred to as child trafficking.
Two Types of Human Trafficking
Under both federal law and Georgia law, there two types of human trafficking. Below is a brief overview of each type:
- Sex trafficking: Coercing or deceiving an individual to performing sexual acts in exchange for money or something of value.
- Labor trafficking: Coercing or deceiving an individual to perform a service or other type of work.
How to Spot a Child Trafficking Victim
Child trafficking victims can be found in our communities, neighborhoods, and schools. Below is a list of the most common signs that victims of child trafficking have been seen to exhibit:
- Has a lot of unexplained absences from school
- Runs away from home frequently
- Shows signs of drug use or addiction
- Talks about traveling to lots of different places
- Exhibits physical symptoms such as bruises, scratches, scars, or other physical trauma
- Exhibits emotional symptoms such as depression, fear, or other withdrawn behaviors
- Exhibits signs of hunger or malnourishment
- Does not dress appropriately for the weather (i.e. wears a short dress without a jacket in the winter)
How to Report Child Trafficking
If you notice any of the above signs in the children in your community or your child’s school and believe that the child is in immediate danger, call your local police right away. If you are unsure whether the signs you witnessed correlate with signs of a child trafficking victim, you can call the Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888, a 24/7 telephone hotline that will help you determine whether you have identified a child trafficking victim and locate resources in your community that can help the victim get out of his or her situation and recover from the traumas experienced as a child trafficking victim. Finally, justice should be sought for the crimes committed against the victim, and finding a child trafficking lawyer in the victim’s community is the best way to embark on that journey toward justice.