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Event takes aim at human trafficking

Expo enlightens parents, children on self-defense

POSTED: August 23, 2014 12:09 a.m.

Larry Ledford works on a portrait of Benjamin Franklin on Saturday at the Taking Aim at Human Trafficking Expo at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

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One tiny finger at a time, Officer Terrelyn Singleton rubbed Cecilia Sisk’s fingers in dark ink for fingerprinting. With her face consumed by a large pair of sunglasses, the 4-year-old was taking the same precautions as her mother.

“My parents did this with us — my sister and me — every year,” her mother, Kristen Sisk of Gainesville, said.

With the help of Singleton and Deputy Michael Parr from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, the Sisks put together a child identification kit during the .000Taking Aim at Human Trafficking Family Outdoor Expo.

Vendors from around the area gathered Saturday at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center to raise money for nonprofit organizations that help human trafficking victims.

“If a child goes missing, that’d be very traumatic for a parent,” Parr said. “This gives parents something they can give law enforcement to help find them.”

Revenue from the expo will fund StreetGrace and Beloved Atlanta, groups trying to tackle domestic sex trafficking of youth statewide and nationwide. Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson, president and CEO of StreetGrace, said children sometimes are lured into the trade due to hunger and desperation.

“It’s in every city and every county of Georgia,” she said.

The median age of a sex trafficking victim, DeLuca-Johnson said, is 12 to 14. And they can be on either side of the socioeconomic spectrum.

“Some of the ones that are arrested for prostitution at 18 started when they were younger, when they were victims,” she said.

In a 2007 study by the Juvenile Justice Fund, an estimated 200 to 300 adolescent girls in Georgia are trafficked for sexual purposes every month.

Discovering the preponderance of trafficking near Atlanta was shocking to Kristen Sisk.

“It hits way too close to home,” she said.

In addition to the booths focusing on sexual trafficking, other booths focused on self-defense. Stun guns and batons were available for sale, just a few feet away from demonstrations by Revved Up Kids and Tough Chicks.


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