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Local rescue organizations and education groups explain human trafficking trends in Middle Georgia
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – On Tuesday, First Lady Marty Kemp and the Department of Justice announced a $4.3 million grant to help fight human trafficking and support victims in Georgia.
Wednesday, the conversation continued in Macon.
Dr. Tammy Crutchfield, a professor at Mercer University, works with Traffic Jam.
According to Traffic Jam’s website, they are “a self-sustaining team of Mercer Marketing students whose purpose is to teach Macon how to drive out sex trafficking.”
“The first step of being part of a cultural shift is to be aware,” Crutchfield said.
The cultural shift Crutchfield refers to is ending human trafficking.
Agents with the FBI, rescue and education groups provided information to the community.
“Sometimes, people see it as a quick way out and then they realize that there’s no getting out for a lot of people,” Jimmy Asbell, Senior Pastor of Vineville United Methodist Church, said.
The FBI says factors like high tourism, numerous interstate connections and the large concentration of colleges and universities in southern states, contribute to human trafficking.
“Once you know about it you can’t just sit there and do nothing. You’ve got to be part of the solution,” Crutchfield said.
April Scarborough is the president and founder of Victoria’s Lighthouse, an advocate for victims. She spoke about the challenge with some human trafficking victims.
“Either they don’t want help or they are too afraid or they don’t realize what is happening,” Scarborough said.
For Crutchfield the issue hits close to home. “I have two daughters and to recognize that it’s occurring within my own hometown and my daughters could be victims,” she said.
There is help
“If somebody needs help, if they come during the week, we have the contact information for some of these agencies… we’d be happy to make a referral. They can wait in this safe place and we can get the contacts made.” Asbell said.
Scarborough says, “then we can work with them (victims) on getting the help they need, getting out (of being victimized), getting the rehab, getting the therapies, getting re-entered into society.”
Children that are victims of human trafficking were at the center lot of Wednesday’s discussion. This year the FBI says there are 59 missing children in the state — 8 from Middle Georgia.
If you see human trafficking
If you suspect human trafficking, the FBI says to identify and record your reasons for the suspicion. Engage the victim if possible, and call the FBI or the Special Victims Unit.