Protect children from sexual predators

A recent story in The Telegraph (“Bibb County deputy arrested on sex charge,” Feb. 11, 2009) calls attention to the ease with which adults can use the Internet to solicit sex from minors. In this case, a Bibb County man allegedly held a series of telephone and Internet conversations with someone he thought was the mother of an Atlanta girl, younger than 10 years old. He allegedly traveled to Atlanta in hopes of engaging in sexual activity with both the mother and her daughter.

While the mother and child both were fictional, and the FBI, in reality, was on the other end of those conversations, this incident calls further attention to a serious issue in Georgia: Adult predators utilizing the Internet to solicit sex with minors without regard to distance.

In this case, the adult’s alleged willingness to leave Byron and travel to Atlanta shows the sexual exploitation of children isn’t just found in larger cities. Predators can reside in any community and travel any distance to fulfill their perverted desires. The reach of the Internet makes this a problem for every community.

The Internet knows no bounds. With just a few mouse clicks, a predator anywhere in Georgia can engage in communication with an underage girl, solicit sexual acts and arrange a meeting.

Research conducted by “A Future. Not a Past,” the Juvenile Justice Fund’s statewide campaign to stop the prostitution of children, found that Georgia is in the midst of a large problem. Each month between 200 and 300 adolescent girls are prostituted on the streets, over the Internet, through escort services and in major hotels.

It is imperative that law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, continue to conduct stings and reinforce that the prostitution of children is intolerable.

Kaffie McCullough is campaign director of A Future. Not a Past.