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Georgia authorities have teamed up to deal with the growing problem of child exploitation in our state, with positive results, they say. As teens and even children are increasingly using the internet, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, often unsupervised, they can become targets of predators.

The Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has teamed up with GBI's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit. They work with local law enforcement agencies as well as national groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The NCMEC provides thousands of tips every year to Georgia law enforcement officials who investigate to determine whether a case and arrest can be made. Often, they say, there's not enough evidence to do so. Nonetheless, these efforts, according to the GBI, have resulted in an increasing number of arrests over the past three years -- from 189 in 2014 to 275 in 2016.

The GBI agent who heads the CEACC unit says that most of their cases involve child sex trafficking and child pornography. She notes that in addition to providing forensic work to help bring people to justice, another mission of the unit involves education on internet safety -- specifically, speaking at schools, scout groups and churches.

Meanwhile, the ICAC Task Force, which the U.S. Department of Justice created, helps local and state law enforcement agencies with child pornography and cyber-enticement cases. It also provides education and prevention services as well as help to victims.

The GBI agent noted that people they've arrested for child exploitation crimes don't fall into one particular category. She says they "have been people of all ages, all walks of life, demographics, careers, socio-economic status, race, etc."

The resources and technology used to find child predators are significant, as they should be. However, since much of the evidence involves images and communications on electronic devices, it's often too easy for someone to be wrongly accused.

The impact of a child exploitation charge, let alone a conviction, on a person's life and reputation can be substantial and permanent. Anyone facing such charges needs experienced legal guidance.

Source: Albany Herald, "GBI says arrests on the rise for crimes against children," Jon Gosa, accessed Nov. 10, 2016

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