MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Although summer’s typically thought of as a time for relaxation and fun, it can also mean something else for young people.
“Summertime is a much more dangerous time,” said Len Edwards with the Commission on Missing and Exploited Children (COMEC).
Edwards said this is when child predators are in full force. He says it’s common, especially for teenage girls, to be groomed by older men and eventually entered into sex trafficking.
“That’s what’s so sad is that these kids are being victimized.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has four special agents who focus their efforts on human trafficking throughout the state.
Michael Jones with TBI said kids as young as 12-years-old are being victimized.
“A lot of times the individuals don’t even realize they’re being victimized by the individual until it’s too late,” said Jones.
Advocates say 14 to 17-years-old is an especially vulnerable age range.
On Tuesday, Calvin Deandre Williams, 27, was arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old.
An affidavit says he was wearing a Domino’s uniform and saw her while driving in East Memphis.
He asked the girl to get in the car near Highland Street and Southern Avenue, which she did.
The victim said from there, they drove to an unknown place where another man was waiting for them at a residence.
Police said the girl agreed to have sex with both of the strangers but only ended up having sex with Williams.
Williams is charged with aggravated statutory rape and was given a $50,000 bond.
They don’t believe this was a trafficking case, but advocates say it shows similar warning signs — potentially a victim needing human companionship she feels is missing.
“Kids want to be grown before time and they’re going to present themselves as being adults when they’re not,” said Edwards.
He hopes parents will be involved with their children’s lives and social media presences, so everyone can have a safe summer.