39 missing children were found by U.S. Marshals late August over the course of two weeks. The children, ranging from ages 3 to 17, were found in several counties across the state, including Fulton, Gwinnett, and Clayton counties, with a total of 20 hosting the missing children, spanning even past Georgia into neighboring states. As of now, nine currently unnamed suspects have been arrested and put into custody.
The sex trafficking bust, labeled “Operation Not Forgotten,” proved to be a massive success for the children rescued from it, however there are many more still out there that law enforcement are still trying to rescue. According to authorities, the missing children were considered most at-risk due to indications of exploitation, sexual and physical abuse, and mental health conditions. Currently, social workers are helping and talking with the traumatized children after the incident, as many believe they were already victims of the previously mentioned abhorrent acts.
Last year alone , there were 417 human trafficking cases reported in Georgia, with an overwhelming percentage of such being used in sex trafficking. The rest of the cases are spread out between labor and unspecified types; however, all of these are highly harmful to the victims involved. Other statistics include the gender ratio, with females being much more sought after than men: 77% of all trafficking in Georgia are female. On top of that, foreign nationals are more likely to be trafficked than US citizens. These figures push disproportionately towards women and minorities, making them the highest rate of victims human trafficking. Since 2007, there have been 8,844 human trafficking victims in Georgia alone, with 59% of which being high risk victims. These numbers are huge indicators of the illegal and horrible business happening right next door to many people, which may come as shocking to some.
Human trafficking can be recognized as modern day slavery, as these people are held against their will for atrocious acts or hard labor. There are several Georgia-based organizations that fight against sexual exploitation and trafficking, such as Out of Darkness, BeLoved Atlanta, and End It. Atlanta happens to be one of the fourteen cities with the highest levels of human trafficking. A huge success from these campaigns happened back in October of 2016, when 82 minors were rescued and 60 violators were arrested in Atlanta and surrounding cities. Do your part and report suspicious activity to the police, as there are children still out there who need to be saved.