The Juvenile Justice Fund’s A Future. Not A Past. effort has a new tool in its ongoing campaign to “disable the demand for child sexual exploitation” in Georgia.
The Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia has agreed to donate space to the Atlanta-based non-profit victim’s advocacy group to run billboard ads throughout metro Atlanta. Unlike previous efforts by other organizations focused on raising awareness among victims, these ads are unique in that they will target the demand side – specifically the pimps and johns who partake in child prostitution. The overall goal, supporters say, is to educate the public on the consequences of purchasing prostituted children.
“This probably is the first of its kind, I’ve never heard of a billboard campaign targeting the demand side,” says A Future. Not A Past. State Coordinator Jennifer Swain. “We want people to know that with the passage of HB 200 in the state legislature that they can now get up to life in prison for purchasing sex with a minor. We feel that if you take away the demand side it will no longer be as big of a problem.”
The traditional vinyl and electronic boards due out later this week warn that pimps and buyers could face five years to life in prison under Georgia’s new sex trafficking law, which substantially toughens the penalty for buying underage sex. The ads urge Georgians to text “DEMAND” to 313131 for more information.
“We’re not promoting texting while driving, we want them to text it once they get to their destination,” explains Swain. “That’s why we chose a number that was easy to remember. We haven’t made a final decision on what the final message will be, but they will probably receive a text back with Georgia’s statistics.”
“It’s really good to get people not just talking about the girls, but the men who buy them,” says Swain, of the ads.
“It feels great for us to be a part of this effort to let drivers know about the laws in Georgia – especially those who are engaging this activity,” says Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia Executive Director Conner Poe. “This was already a strong campaign, but getting the state law passed parlayed perfectly with this. It put some teeth behind this campaign and it’s letting folks engaging in this know, ‘you’d better watch out.’”