Anti-human trafficking advocates are praising authorities in an arrest of an alleged sex-trafficker in Taliaferro County.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Jonathon Nathaniel Kelly was stopped on interstate I-20 in Taliaferro, which is northeast of Atlanta.
Along with the arrest, a teenager was rescued.
The Taliaferro County arrest highlights the state’s effort in training law enforcement.
It wasn’t long ago that in Georgia, a minor could have been immediately arrested and maybe even charged with prostitution when found with either a pimp or someone purchasing them for sex.
But advocates and some state lawmakers lobbied for changes.
Jennifer Swain is program manager for the Atlanta based group Youth-Spark.
Their main initiative is to end child sex trafficking.
“The officer that pulled that car over knew the signs and was educated on what the commercial sexual exploitation of children was and that is a success for us here in Georgia.”
Those training sessions Swain is talking about have been occurring over the last few years.
That has included training officers on what to do with alleged victims of forced child prostitution.
Swain praises authorities for their treatment of the teenage girl.
“And I really applaud the officers who were able to identify her as child victim, treat her in the way that they did and get her into health services immediately.”
The 17-year-old has been placed with the Division of Family and Children Services.
It’s been a long and continuous battle against the sex-trafficking of children for organizations like Youth-Spark.
On this Human Trafficking Awareness day, Swain says the fight continues, but it goes beyond focusing on the victims.
“But who are requesting them, who wants to buy them and that’s where our research comes into play because 72-hundred men seek to purchase adolescent girls knowingly and unknowingly here in our state.”
Youth Spark and other advocacy groups are gearing up for the annual lobby day at the state capitol.
The groups hand out white roses in honor of victims.
Recently President Obama proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness month.