Business leaders can protect the community

For some, the impact of pornography and sexually oriented businesses appears far removed from the business community. Yet, a growing body of research shows the negative influence of red-light businesses is not restricted to the bad part of town. Where sexually oriented businesses exist, crime rates go up, property values go down and consumers flee the area.

Leadership at the community level doesn’t require negative activism. Business leaders can lead in more effective ways through intentional words, personal choices and principled stands.

Questions for business leaders to ask:

Is my community protected from the negative secondary effects of sex businesses?

How can the business sector be more involved in protecting and maintaining a decent society?

Are there ways to promote preventative resources to protect children and families from pornography and sexual exploitation?

Are there ways to assist those directly harmed by pornography and exploitation?

Promoting community change

Protect your real estate and marketplace – If your community needs better zoning protection or more consistent law enforcement, your voice as a business leader will often carry more weight than the average citizen. Your presence at town council meetings or letter to the editor brings to the debate the entire force of your business and all that it means to the community. As a business leader, you can speak with authority on the presence of an unfavorable business climate and your concerns for business prospects in a community that doesn’t make health and safety a priority.

Engage professional organizations – If you haven’t spent a great deal of time thinking about the threats of pornography and sex shops, chances are your colleagues haven’t either. Highlighting these issues to other community leaders at meetings of the Rotary club, Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, Knight of Columbus and others multiples your influence and brings about greater awareness of matters of critical importance to the health and safety of the community.

Encourage responsibility in the retail community – Companies often have significant clout with neighboring businesses, particularly in shopping malls and other areas with a high retail concentration. News reports have shown that some offensive mall displays have come down even after consumer requests were ignored because other stores exerted their collective influence.

Promote prevention – Children are the most at risk of damage by pornography. Work with other businesses and local school officials to underwrite school assemblies and other safety programs that promote Internet safety and highlight other dangers, such as “sexting” on cell phones.

Support victim services – Perhaps the most difficult and most rewarding way to serve your community is by helping those who have been directly impacted by pornography and sexual exploitation. Women’s and children’s shelters, domestic violence programs, and recovery groups that are on the front lines addressing the harm to real lives need volunteers, funding and other support. It may not be glamorous work, but your investment can literally change and save lives.

Copyright © 2013, Daniel Weiss. All rights reserved. Used with permission.