Let’s make Georgia a Safe Harbor for Child Victims of Human Trafficking

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by Renee Unterman


I am paralyzed by this thought: hundreds of Georgia’s children lured, taken, trapped, exploited, and sold for sexual activity. The average age is only 13, and victims can be as young as 9.

Child sex trafficking is something that none of us want to talk about, but we must, because it has become big business in Georgia. Traffickers make an average of $33,000 per week selling others for sex.

And the sex trade isn’t just happening in the big cities. Cases have been reported in every part of our state from at least 102 counties, so there’s good chance that children in your community are, or could become, trapped.


Hope for Sexually Exploited Children

When victims somehow manage to escape, they have nowhere to turn to for help, rehabilitation, and healing. They’ve suffered sexual, physical, and mental abuse; they are often malnourished; and they feel intense guilt and shame. Without intensive healing services, they can never completely recover. And they often become victims—again.

Georgia voters will have an opportunity in the general election on November 8 to help sexually exploited children recover and return to their place in life, work, and community.

Constitutional Amendment 2—establishment of the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund—is being proposed to provide social services and rehabilitation for victims who have been rescued from trafficking and exploitation situations.


If passed, this fund would provide up to $2 million in new, dedicated, annual funding that would go directly to the organizations that provide services to child trafficking victims. These funds will come from new fines for those convicted of crimes related to sex trafficking and a new fee on adult entertainment establishments.

This amendment will not raise or create new taxes.

What will appear on the ballot is a question asking for the approval of a constitutional amendment—the only way funds can be permanently dedicated to a particular purpose in Georgia. The language on the ballot will read:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited.”

By voting yes, you approve of a constitutional amendment.

Like all proposed constitutional amendments, the ballot to help victims of child exploitation and human trafficking in Georgia will appear at the bottom of the ballot.

We know that with this funding, we can help our children, who have already suffered so terribly.

To find out more about the proposed amendment, go to:

Addressing Child Exploitation in Georgia

I remember the first time I heard the term “human trafficking.” My first reaction was, “How could that really be happening?” After I saw the facts, I thought, “how tragic, but surely it can’t be happening everywhere.” But the more I learned, the more I realized that human trafficking and child exploitation in the form of labor and sex slavery are everywhere, and it is far from under control. And, like many Georgians, something inside me wanted to help do something about it.

Thanks to bipartisan support for addressing human trafficking and child exploitation in Georgia, we’ve made progress by passing of numerous human trafficking related bills. And there are other continuing efforts by organizations across Georgia:

  • Georgia Cares connects services and treatment care for child victims of child exploitation and trafficking.
  • Georgia Department of Education implements human trafficking prevention efforts in middle and high schools across the state.
  • StreetGrace leads faith communities, organizations, and volunteers on a comprehensive path to end domestic minor sex trafficking in metro Atlanta and throughout the United States.
  • Wellspring Living helps domestic sex trafficking victims and the at-risk develop the courage to move forward and the confidence to succeed.
Renee Unterman is a member of the Georgia State Senate from the 45th District, serving since 2003.