Atlanta (let alone the United States) is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of sex trafficking. Yet, Georgia is one of the biggest hubs for underage sex trafficking in the United States, with over 500 girls exploited for sex each month. Ten years ago, these alarming rates galvanized the state of Georgia into action, pushing citizens to mobilize non-profit and government initiatives to deal with the issue. However, according to a recent article published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the city still remains a center for child sex exploitation.
During the trip, we will work with several non-profits, key government players, and different public and private agencies to learn where their campaigns have succeeded, and where they have fallen short. Girls who have run away from home or who live in at-risk neighborhoods are those most vulnerable to trafficking. Part of our time will be spent volunteering with organizations who work with at-risk youth, so as to understand what preventative strategies can be implemented. We plan to meet with law enforcement agencies who have firsthand experience with the issue as well as policy-makers who have passed innovative bills through legislature. Finally, we will team up with faith-based organizations to see how religion plays a role in mobilizing people at the grassroots level. We hope to understand who the victims and perpetrators of child sex trafficking really are, while simultaneously identifying what strategies are best when it comes to combating child sexual exploitation- both in Atlanta and the rest of the United States.
This trip is sponsored by the Princeton Pace Center for Civic Engagement. Pace offers students the chance to lead civic action programs including immersion in community work and experiential learning. Everything is led and directed by students without on-the-ground faculty advisors, giving students the chance to practice leadership, community building, and becoming engaged citizens.