Sexual predators don't just attack adults, they attack children as well. Saturday Meridian's Ladies Auxiliary held a public forum to determine the level of that threat in our area.
The most high-profile sexual solicitation arrest recently came on Tuesday. Brian Doyle, a Homeland Security official, was arrested for having sexual conversations with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old. Local officials seeing the need for public awareness, decided to do something about it.
"This issue is not going away; it is here to stay. As you know, we've seen a lot the last couple of months," said Ginger Stevens of the Wesley House.
"We felt that maybe everyone should be more aware of the local situation. So, we have invited our local people that work with these situations to try to educate the public on what we as individuals can do to protect our children," said Ladies Auxiliary President Sylvia Compton.
One way that sexual predators have made their way into homes is through the Internet. Officials say that while Internet brings everything to your front door, that's not always a good thing.
"Many times we may feel safe in a smaller community thinking these things are in large cities or in bigger states or on the West coast or on the East coast, when in fact they can infect our area right here if we're not careful," said Lauderdale County Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun.
Calhoun says it's important to monitor what your children are doing, whether it is online or in person. Officials also point to the Sex Offender Registry as a way to stay informed about your surroundings.
"It's very important for the public to know who is living around them, especially sex offenders. And what sex offense they have been convicted of," said Edna Clark of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department.
Links to the Mississippi and Alabama Sex Offender Registries can be found on our Web site at wtok.com.