Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Sutham Cobkit

Second Advisor

Dr. Gang Lee

Third Advisor

Dr. Lewis VanBrackle


Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) has become a growing crime in most cities in the United States, particularly Atlanta. There seems to be a gap between these types of crime and how law enforcement responds to them. This paper discussed why Atlanta has attracted such a crime and how local law enforcement is dealing with the issue, as well as current laws that are in place to combat this crime. In particular, this study will answer two main questions: (1) Why is Metro Atlanta a hotspot for CSEC? (2) How can local law enforcement better respond to CSEC? The study found that Atlanta’s major airport and roadways make the city accessible to exploiters. CSEC is taking place at sporting events, trade shows and other such gatherings, which bring an influx of people to the city. The internet is another tool that exploiters are using to target vulnerable children. There is also CSEC activity happening in hotels and motels, and high crime areas. The study found that law enforcement desperately need more resources to effectively combat CSEC. Victims of CSEC are mistrusting of law enforcement, which hampers the effective treatment and delivery of services. The findings indicate that law enforcement rely on partnerships with social service providers to stop CSEC, and to ensure the safety of CSEC victims. This study also offers policy recommendations to law enforcement in an attempt to bridge the gap between CSEC and law enforcement responses.