This new, dedicated source of funding will ensure that innocent victims, as young as 9 years old, receive the intensive restorative services they need to resume a normal life.The Safe Harbor Yes campaign has brought together a broad, statewide coalition in support of this critical ballot initiative.
Every year in Georgia, hundreds of Georgia's children are trafficked and exploited. Cases have been reported in 102 counties, covering over 60% of the state. The average age of a child victim of sex trafficking is only 13, and they can be as young as 9.
While their stories may differ, these children have all been sexually abused and exploited - sometimes by someone they already know. For the children who survive, recovery is both intensive and costly - as much as $80,000 for only one year, depending on the services they need.
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Voters will be asked to approve Constitutional Amendment 2 on the November 2016 general election ballot to create the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.
By adding the Safe Harbor fund to the state constitution, funds will be permanently protected and used solely for the purposes of providing restorative services to child victims. This ballot question was approved by 85% of the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year.
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It is estimated that the Safe Harbor Fund will provide as much as $2 million annually in funding dedicated to providing restorative services and support to the child victims of sex trafficking who are able to escape truly horrific circumstances and abuse. Funds will be distributed by an appointed commission directly to the agencies, faith-based organizations and non-profits who provide the safe housing, trauma counseling, medical treatment and other resources these children desperately need.
The funds will come from two sources: additional penalties on convicted sex traffickers and a new fee on the adult entertainment industry. The creation of the Safe Harbor fund will not raise or create new taxes for Georgians.