Written by Dallas Hyland

It might surprise some of my regular readers to know I was once a bible thumping church goer. In fact, I spent some time working in youth ministry as well.

I recall with some clarity, a poignant moment back in the early 2000’s when a visiting pastor at my church made a declarative statement. 

He said, “Did you know that one out three men in the Christian church today is addicted to pornography?” 


He then said, “So, fellas. look to your left and if it ain’t him, look to your right. And if it ain’t him, well, it’s you!”

Deafening silence.

Would you believe I laughed out loud?

A week or so later I was asked to speak at a mens group meeting on a Monday evening and I recounted that moment from the Sunday earlier. 

I then made the deduction that there were about 100 men in the room and that by the statistics given by the pastor, at least 33 of us were addicted to porn. I asked for a show of hands to confirm it.

Silence so deaf it hurt my ears. 

I laughed out loud again. 

Christians are so silly.

But I digress. 

I recently returned from an assignment as a freelance photojournalist in Colombia where I worked in an undercover capacity to assist in and cover a human trafficking bust. It turned out to be one of the largest of its kind in history. 

If you’d like to get caught up on the back story you can search for. It’s been widely covered in national media including here locally on Utah Public Radio.

While working this job I became aware of the staggering statistics on human trafficking and sexual slavery but I was even more taken aback when I learned that Americans are the number one consumer of sex tourism in the world.

And that set me to thinking. You see I hold the notion of thinking globally and acting locally as having some merit across a platitude of issues. Including this one. 

While Operation Underground Railroad works vigorously to eradicate trafficking in foreign countries, what about small towns like say, St. George?

Does it happen here?

See where I was going with my analogy earlier?

Since coming home from this assignment I have been trying to find normal again and I having trouble with it. 

I literally sat across a table from a man who sold my undercover colleagues thirty-seven minor children for sex.

I tried not to allow myself to put that in the context that naturally followed but it was inevitable I would think of my own children, to my horror.

I am beginning to ask myself the next question I am not sure I want the answer to but it compels me. And it should compel you. 

Does it happen here?

One could quite easily point to Hildale and Colorado City for its blatant abuse of children by indoctrination and arranged marriages. 

One could further make the assertion that the blind eye turned to this form of human subjugation is indicative of something. 

But what?  Is it a guilty conscience in need of no accuser?

It’s something to ponder for sure but it is also often a scapegoat for newcomers to the area who understand little of the history and culture of the people who settled the area. A good people overall mind you. Resolute, cheerful, and deeply committed to one another.

I have often lamented that there exists in society a triptych. A three fold set of principles that are interdependent. They are beliefs, actions, and outcomes. Simply addressing the first two to institute change simply will not do. On order to change outcomes, one must not only address the actions that lead to the outcomes, but the beliefs that support and create the actions.


In other words, don’t just treat the symptoms. 

If the outcome in this analogy is that there exists in our culture, American culture, and St. George culture, a benign ignorance to this behavior, then there exists in it a sickness if you will.

It simply will not be enough to apprehend and prosecute the people who enslave people or engage in the exploitation of enslaved people. While absolutely just and necessary, that only deals with the outcome and the actions. It does not address what must be a cultural belief system that allows for the justification of the devaluing human beings. And that friends, is a discussion that involves not only sexual behavior, but a gamut of socio economic a political issues. 

It is a dialogue that we must begin.

See You Out There

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.