Prevention is larger


The headline for the March 31 (2021) edition of this newspaper read “Eight men face charges of sex trafficking involving minors – Another charged with patronizing prostitution.”

The article stated, “They were arrested following a two-day undercover investigation of men accused of seeking illegal sex from minors.”

Eight men, ranging from 26 to 55, responded to decoy advertisements online with a website known to be associated with commercial sex acts with minors.”

Let the stark reality of their heinous (alleged) crimes sink in for a minute. Adult men were seeking sexual conduct with minors!

In Tennessee, and most of the United States, this is a serious felony punishable by imprisonment and monitoring as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.

Worse yet is the physical and mental damage to the victims. Most victims never fully recover from these horrible acts and some commit similar crimes in adulthood.

These men are a small fraction of individuals seeking to commit or actually committing child sexual exploitation in our communities.

If convicted, they will (hopefully) be incarcerated and join others on the Tennessee sex offender registry. Realize the registry only lists the offenders that were caught and convicted.

Imagine how many more are out there seeking children to violate.

This problem is much bigger than most know.

Check out the sex offender registry in and around your area. You could be surprised. As Dave Clark, district attorney general for Anderson County, aptly stated, “The sad modern reality is that there can be predators lurking out there looking for an opportunity to meet a child where they think they can find a child.”

He also said, “Defeating this problem will require teamwork in both enforcement and prevention.”

He is certainly correct.

Thankfully, law enforcement conducted this operation and these men will face justice. However, law enforcement has limited resources, is at best, a partial deterrence and cannot be everywhere.

In my opinion, prevention is a larger, more-effective factor in protecting the children. Now, more than ever, children are online many hours for school and play.

Adults must be aware of the dangers. Awareness can certainly be gained by managing the online risk to children training offered by AG Clark for parents. There are other valuable resources available.

It is very important to monitor children’s online activity.

Children often do not recognize the dangers.

What apps are they using?

Who are they communicating with?

What they saying?

What are they sharing?

You could be surprised, or worse yet, appalled at what you find.

Your children will most likely resent your invasion of their so-called privacy. Consider this: Is it worth the resentment to prevent some pervert from soliciting your child or, God forbid, something worse?

Patrick Card