COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Georgia Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit recently took part in the Georgia School Safety and Homeland Security Conference.

The conference was hosted by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Georgia Department of Education, and was held at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center from June 21-23.

At the event, the unit was able to share important knowledge on how to recognize, prevent, and report the “horrific industry” of human trafficking with educators, helping them to protect Georgia’s children.

“Georgia’s teachers are in a unique position to not only recognize the signs associated with a trafficking victim, but to connect with students in a way that few others can outside the classroom,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

Carr said the unit is working to give teachers the information they need to spot trafficking when it’s happening to one of their students. He said knowledge is key to catching and stopping traffickers.

“We are using all resources at our disposal to identify, locate and rescue victims, and we are grateful to school personnel across the state who have joined us in this fight,” said Carr.

As part of the conference, Unit Chief Hannah Palmquist and Victim Advocate Katie LaBrie presented the following tips to Georgia teachers, school administration officials, school counselors, school resource officers, public safety personnel, law enforcement and emergency management personnel.

Recognition

Youth who are being trafficked will not present themselves as “victims.” It is important to learn the signs so you can help to recognize a potential trafficking victim.

  • Vulnerabilities (i.e. unstable home environment, needs being unmet or prior sexual abuse)
  • Excessive absences or truancy
  • Repeat runaway
  • Withdrawn behavior or signs of depression
  • Changes in physical appearance or inappropriate attire
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Unexplained gifts or money

Prevention

  • Don’t overlook or ignore the indicators, such as those listed above
  • Engage with the student
  • Communicate with other individuals and agencies that may be involved with the student and their family (i.e. courts or truancy panels)
  • Recommend training for staff and students, like the training options listed below

Training

For information about training options available to the general public, visit the websites listed below.

Reporting

If you suspect that a student is being sexually trafficked, you should file a report with the following entities.

  • School social worker
  • Local law enforcement (to include your school resource officer)
  • The Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia – Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Response Team
  • The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services
    • Call the intake line: 1-855-GA CHILD (422-4453)

As you talk with each entity, let them know if you have already connected with someone from another agency included in the list above. Provide them with the name and contact information of the person with whom you already spoke. This will help to maintain a clear line of communication for all individuals and agencies involved.

To file a report, you will need to provide the following information to the law enforcement entity.

  • Student’s first and last name
  • Student’s date of birth
  • Legal custodian’s first and last name
  • Legal custodian’s contact information
  • Your relationship with the youth (i.e. teacher)
  • Reason for suspected trafficking