On January 12, four Rotary clubs near the Sandy Springs area captured the attention of the North Springs community by hosting the screening of a human trafficking awareness film called 8 Days. It focuses on the abduction of a high school student and her experience in getting sold into prostitution. “The movie was pretty intense,” said Communications Liaison Carol Ciepluch. “It was based on the movie’s creators family member, who went through the same process.”
After the movie, Lisa Cohen, CNN journalist and a North Springs’ parent, moderated panel discussions. She has been heavily involved with human trafficking projects since 2011 and she helps run the CNN Freedom Project. Bonnie Hardage, President of the Brookhaven Rotary, stated that human trafficking is a “focus of the CNN Freedom Project, so there is great energy and expertise”.
Many credible law enforcement representatives commentated in the panel discussion: Sandy Springs Police Chief Kenneth DeSimone, Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan, Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan and a representative from the FBI were all in attendance to speak up about this important issue.
“Human Trafficking is a very real thing and Atlanta is a hotbed of activity with 40% of the buyers coming from North Atlanta,” said Steve Soteres, a Brookhaven Rotarian. “It’s also is not just girls, boys are just as likely to be targeted. The [human trafficking] industry outpaces the drug and gun trafficking industry 10 to 1.”
Many parents found the the event to be eye-opening and very emotional. “Parents started worrying and fussing about their kids,” stated Ciepluch. “The horrifying process the movie showed really impacted the audience.”
The staff from North Springs also found the movie impactful. “A lot [of us] got teary-eyed,” said Principal Michael Scott Hanson. “It was very emotional content.”
Despite the fact there is still human trafficking happening, the event was not held just to end the industry altogether. The main goal of the screening was to help raise recognition of the problem. “We wanted to spread awareness for among everybody to call for help if they ever see anyone is danger,” said Mrs. Ciepluch.