Many times when students and faculty think of Mercer’s “Research that Reaches Out,” they envision helping improve the lives of those in developing countries; however, reaching out can also be local, where problems often go overlooked. Georgia Cares, a state organization that serves trafficked minors, has had more than 1,100 referrals come in over the past five years and currently has active cases for 155 minors and suspected exploitation in 78 counties, including 26 instances in Bibb County, according to a 2015 Macon Telegraph article. Recently, twenty-nine people were arrested by federal law enforcement in 13 cities across eight states, including Middle Georgia, on sex trafficking and other domestic trafficking charges. It is also reported by the Shapiro Group that approximately 12,400 people purchase sex in Georgia each month.
Mercer’s senior marketing students, under the leadership of Dr.Tammy Crutchfield, built the brand Traffick Jam as a result of these alarming facts. Traffick Jam was conceived in 2014 through the senior marketing capstone experience. The students were tasked with taking the Anti-Trafficking education video “Chosen” to market. After conducting qualitative customer research, they concluded that a video story such as Chosen was necessary but not sufficient. Therefore, they decided to build their own prevention solution to educate teenagers in order to protect them from being trafficked. These students have a desire to make a difference in a sustainable manner in our local Macon community.
This year 78 service-learning team members are serving over 700 freshmen in three Bibb County schools.
At the end of this semester Traffick Jam will have educated over 4,000 students.