Guest Blog Post by Dale Rylander (Defenders Captain)
When I try to get my head around the scope and complexity of the commercial sex issue I feel like a blind man encountering an elephant (the leg is a tree, the tail is a rope, the trunk is a snake, the ear is a fan and the side is a large rock). Each time I approach the commercial sex elephant from a different direction I feel like I am dealing with a different problem. Then, when I step back I realize its huge size and multiple complex issues. It is also the elephant in the middle of the room that is hard to talk about.
But we need to! The destructive impact of commercial sex in our communities, our nation and our world is huge. Each year 100,000 preteen and teenage girls are victimized as prostituted children in the US. (In 2011 there were 83,425 forcible rapes reported in the US.) If each prostituted child experiences physical sexual contact more than once a month that equals 1,300,000 rapes each year. (In 2011 there were 1,203,564 violent crimes reported in the US.) Commercial sex also has a huge impact in other countries often exacerbated by conflict, culture and poverty.
If we are going to successfully eradicate this huge commercial sex elephant we need to address all of its multiple different complex issues. There are prostituted girls that need to be rescued, potential victims that need to be educated, behaviors that need to be eliminated and laws that need to be enacted and enforced. All of these are important and all of these must be addressed.
Just as an elephant looks different when viewed from a different angle; so does a presentation about commercial sex look different when I talk to a different audience. The information is always based on the same facts but the presentation is customized to challenge a specific audience to take age and gender appropriate actions. By focusing on the needs and interest of a specific audience I can reduce the duration of the presentation and emphasize relevant content that maintains the audience’s attention.
I look for opportunities to make presentations about the commercial sex elephant to the following different audiences:
• Preteen and teen girls using the Chosen DVD and Training package with emphasis on awareness of their personal safety and the safety of their friends.
• Preteen and teen boys using the Chosen DVD and Training package with emphasis on awareness and personal commitment to respect girls and women.
• Parents using the Chosen DVD and Training package with emphasis on the challenges associated with parenting teenagers.
• Political Action using Protected Innocence Challenge to encourage individuals and groups to become informed and express opinions to their elected officials.
• Adult men using personal testimonial followed by open discussion to challenge adult men to take Defenders Pledge.
Is one of these actions more important than the others? No.
Do I always have an opportunity to do all of these? No.
My goal is to make the most of each opportunity and although my contributions may be small I hope my focus on the needs and interests of specific audiences enable each presentation help eradicate a small part of the commercial sex elephant.
Dale Rylander is a professional technology consultant. He is married with three adult children. His wife challenged him to take the Defenders’ Pledge. Motivated by the enormous scope of this issue, he is working as the first Defenders Captain in Dallas to educate and challenge men in Dallas, in Texas, in the United States and around the world to change their attitudes and actions about commercial sex.