Mercer to Observe Third Annual Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Week on Atlanta Campus


ATLANTA – Mercer University will observe its third annual Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Week on the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus, Jan. 25-29, in Atlanta.

Mercer's initiative is part of the larger national observance of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

The University's Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Program (HTAPP) – formed by students in Mercer's Penfield College in 2014 to encourage campus involvement in helping bring an end to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry – organized the events.

Dr. Kenyon Knapp, coordinator of the doctoral counseling program and associate professor of counseling, serves as faculty sponsor of the initiative.

“I have come to see this as one of the great evils of our time and feel compelled to do my part to help end this abusive crime,” said Dr. Knapp. “Additionally, we want to provide training for those who come into contact with the victims so that the victims can be validated, protected and restored as much as possible.”

The week begins on Jan. 25 with a workshop on “Defusing Trauma or Stress Reductions,” a free event showcasing techniques to enhance emotional regulation, decrease anxiety and depressive symptoms, and develop a more present-centered awareness. The workshop will take place in Sheffield Center, Room 205, from 3-4:30 p.m.

Two films, “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” and “Finding Home,” both aimed at bringing awareness to human trafficking, will be screened on Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. in Day Hall Auditorium. Refreshments will be served, and each screening will be followed by a 15-minute discussion.

A sex trafficking law enforcement training session will be held in the Day Hall Auditorium on Jan. 27 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Presenters will include Camila Wright, Georgia's assistant attorney general and statewide prosecutor for human trafficking, Nathan Whiteman, FBI special agent, and Brian Johnston, Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent. The event, open to students as well as community members who have an interest in public health and safety, will provide information on how the law serves to protect victims of the sex trafficking trade.

A “Lunch and Learn” roundtable discussion on “Factors Surrounding Trafficking” will take place on Jan. 28, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., in the Trustees Dining Room. Representatives from several local non-profit organizations will participate in the discussion, and a free lunch will be provided to the first 50 students in attendance.

An online training session for the award-winning Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention program will be offered on Jan. 29 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. This training is free and is approved for two Continuing Education Units by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the National Association for Social Workers (NASW).

The week will conclude with the annual HTAPP Benefits and Honors Banquet on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the AACC second-floor atrium. The evening includes dinner, a keynote address by Reginald Hammond, anti-trafficking liaison for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, and a performance by Tianna Pourciau Sykes, choreographer and performance artist. Tickets for this event are $15.

For more information on Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Week, or to register for individual events, click here.

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer's English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, school counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, public safety leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology and communication. Programs are offered on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County and Newnan, and online. To learn more, visit