Off the Beat w/ Marc Lacy: How Do We Combat Social Predators?

Way before we entered into this #MeToo era as well as social media (being a prominent form of communication), predatory behavior from adults has been around since day one. I will never forget, as a kid in the late 70’s hearing about the infamous Wayne Williams case in the Atlanta area in which several young men were stalked and unfortunately murdered.

Again, predatory behavior has always been a stain on society. It’s just that now it’s amplified more than ever because of the combination of #MeToo and social media. Institutions and subject matter experts get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to help quell such behavior and its impacts, yet it continues to happen. The popular “see something say something” only applies when people utilize it. And folks continue to produce reasons as to why they do not apply it immediately if even apply it at all. The problem is money. Yes, that’s right, the problem is money. I had to say it again. Why? Because money equals POWER. And when there is power involved, laws get twisted/distorted, and the boundaries of norms are breached. We must find more efficient ways of combating this issue with children and with adults.

Nowadays social media seems to be a prime playground for predators. The electronic wall is the force-field shielding them from the elements while they are up to their shenanigans…so they think. Inboxing and or direct messaging is where it all goes down. It could be a preacher, coach, accountant…it doesn’t matter. Social media affords them the opportunity to go in with some sort of protective veil. They typically drop a line either starting with very basic conversation/commentary, to build the connection up, or they may say something edgy all with the intent on seeing how you will respond. It’s all about response.

And from their standpoint, as long as they feel like you’re entertaining them, they will keep pursuing. And if you should catch onto their game and sternly reply to them with something like, “Listen, this sounds like you’re trying to see where my head is so that you can make some sort of play. Don’t insult my intelligence.

Lastly, I would appreciate you not contacting me anymore.” Of course they have to play if off with, “Well, I didn’t mean any harm. Trust me, it will never happen again.” But unfortunately, everyone is not on their “guard” while navigating through social media platforms.

So how do we combat this stuff? Sometimes the worst barriers are those who enable the predators, or even those who naively approach life thinking this person has done no wrong or is incapable of doing it. Many violators try and use their prestigious positions and accolades as rationales as to why would not engage in such hideous activity. But what they are failing to address is the fact that there is something going on in their mind. It’s a form a mental illness that was/is triggered by something. In many cases, they themselves were probably a victim of predatory behavior from another adult earlier in life and unfortunately they either did not get it sorted out, or just kept it to themselves thinking that time alone would do it.

But it all boils down to legislation levying stern punishment on those violators. And taxpayers being bold enough to call out this behavior when it is made known to them, also applying pressure on politicians to ensure adequate legislation is in place to handle these atrocities. Every individual MUST take it upon themselves to be vigilant and proactive as predators tend to hide in the shadows of the negligence of others.

It’s no secret that known and convicted predators that have a lot of money, tend to get off a lot lighter than they would if they did not have the serious ends. Unfortunately, this is just how the cookie crumbles in the system. Another thing violators have going in their favor, in the viral social media age, all it takes is for someone in a high position to say or tweet something questioning the credibility of the accuser and thus the domino effect ensues. And unfortunately, when something goes viral whether it’s true or not, if it “seems” true by those who want to believe it, then the “new truth” is formed. This is why it is a must that violations get reported in a timely manner.

Even if there are not statutes of limitation, the further we get away from the dated of the alleged occurrence, the more difficult it will be in trying to prove anything happened at all. But please make no mistake about it, whether it’s reported sooner or later, EVERY victim deserves justice, and every violator deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. How do we combat predators? By taking ownership of the safety and well-being of our communities.



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