Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Georgia Selected As Site for Law Enforcement Training on Child Prostitution

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(R) (NCMEC) has selected Norcross, Georgia as the location for law enforcement training on child prostitution. The training, Protecting Victims of Child Prostitution, is scheduled for November 16 thru 20 and will be attended by 63 police, prosecutors and others from Georgia as well as California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Maine, Massachusetts, and Canada.

The Georgia-based non-profit organization, the Juvenile Justice Fund, is hosting the site for the training which will be held in Norcross as part of their "A Future. Not A Past," a state-wide campaign to stop the prostitution of children in Georgia by building a barrier between children and those who seek to harm them through commercial sexual exploitation.

"Child trafficking doesn't just happen on the other side of the world, it is happening right here in America," said Ernie Allen, President of NCMEC. "We are deeply grateful to the Juvenile Justice Fund for bringing this vital training to Georgia. It will enable us to rescue more children and represents an important step toward ending these insidious crimes."

NCMEC estimates that at least 100,000 children each year become victims of child prostitution in the United States. These kids are 21st century slaves, commodities for sale or trade, and often remain unseen by public agencies and the general public.

The NCMEC training includes an overview of the violence children encounter when subjected to child prostitution, investigative techniques, information on how to interview victims of child prostitution, how to prevent child victimization and resources that are available to law enforcement.

"We are committed to doing everything possible to end child prostitution in Georgia. We are grateful to NCMEC for bringing this critical training to Georgia, and are confident that it will strengthen Georgia's response to these crimes," said Kaffie McCullough, Campaign Director of "A Future. Not A Past."

The city of Atlanta and Fulton County have been leaders in the fight against child prostitution. In 2006 to combat child prostitution in the Atlanta Metro area, Mayor Shirley Franklin launched the 'Dear John' public education campaign. The campaign engaged local communities, schools, and the media on the issue and brought much needed attention to the victims of child prostitution as well as the 'Johns' who solicit these children. An earlier collaboration with the Juvenile Justice Fund, NCMEC and several other organizations included a major ad campaign that created greater public awareness about the problem of child prostitution.

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners implemented prevention and intervention efforts for the child victims of child prostitution and worked with local nonprofit organizations to address related issues such as temporary housing, medical care, and family reunification. Due to the success of the Fulton County program, the National Association of Counties (NACO) adopted the issue and developed guidelines for counties nationwide.

Georgia has been the location for a large number of NCMEC training programs. NCMEC first began offering training for law enforcement in 1997 with the creation of the Jimmy Ryce Law Enforcement Training Center. The training center is named for Jimmy Ryce, a 9-year-old Florida boy who was abducted and murdered in 1995. To date, around 266,360 law enforcement, prosecutors and others from all over the country have attended NCMEC law enforcement training.

This year the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children observes its 25th anniversary. NCMEC has played a role in the recovery of more than 138,500 children. Today more children come home safely than ever before. In 2008, NCMEC helped recover more children than any other year in the organization's 25-year history raising the recovery rate from 62% in 1990 to 97% today. And more of those who prey on children are being identified and prosecuted. Yet too many children are still missing and too many children are still the victims of sexual exploitation. There is much more that needs to be done.

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