A four-day undercover operation in Bartow County, Georgia, nicknamed “Operation Paladin” resulted in the arrest of 20 men that had been using electric means to sexually solicit interactions with children. The investigation took months of planning by multiple different agencies. The Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was involved as well and the men were discovered to have traveled from areas all around northwest Georgia to meet children for sex.
More than 30 cases were discovered, and 20 of them resulted in arrests. The investigators posed as minors and communicated with the suspects. Officers were able to seize at least one firearm, illegal drugs, and 24 mobile phones during the arrest. The individuals arrested were charged with violation of the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007, as well as charges of trafficking children for sexual servitude and labor.
What is Sexual Exploitation?
The term sexual exploitation is typically used to refer to sexual abuse of a child that occurs during adolescence. These children are going through a time of rapid development and changes, both emotionally and sexually. They may be wishing to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and although they want to act like an adult, they don’t have the experience or knowledge to be able to recognize when an adult is taking advantage of them. This makes them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
To protect your child from sexual exploitation, there are several steps that a parent can take. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Ensure there is an open line of communication. Children need to know that they can talk to their parent or trusted adults around them about anything, even if they fear the adult will be upset. Abusers typically rely on their victims feeling ashamed and guilty in order to keep them silent. Talking to your child regularly about their friends and experiences can help them feel more comfortable as well as help you be aware if something seems out of the ordinary.
- Get to know the things they know. When children reach puberty, they may find it hard to talk to adults about their relationships and sex. Parents may also find it difficult to talk to their child about these topics. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your child about these things, find resources that can do it for you or make it easier.
- Know your child’s friends. Knowing who your child’s friends are will enable you to monitor who is a positive influence on them. Strong friendships also often result in a friend being more likely to tell another adult if your child is getting themselves into trouble.
- Listen to your child and their friends. If you pay attention closely to children, they may be telling you or showing you warning signs about what is going on. These off-hand comments could be an indication that something is wrong.
- Take interest in their online activities. You need to take as much interest in what your child is doing online as what they are doing offline. Abusers often groom their victims online. Ask your kids about the sites they visit, who they talk to, etc., and be sure to talk to them about not giving out their personal information or meeting anyone in person that they meet online.
Contact a Child Personal Injury Attorney Today
If your child has been the victim of sexual exploitation, not only is a crime, but you may also be entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser. The attorneys at Council & Associates, LLC can advise you of your legal rights. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
Lashonda Council Rogers is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Howard University School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Lashonda Council Rogers believes her personal approach is the best way to defend her clients. Learn more about her experience here.