A new Crimes Against Children unit set up in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is long overdue. If anything, its mission should be expanded.
State Attorney General Mike DeWine established the office, with 15 investigators. "This is just the beginning," he said last week. Again, we hope so.
Initially, the unit's focus will be use of the Internet to victimize children. Investigators will monitor the World Wide Web, checking for child pornography and attempts to use it to find vulnerable youngsters. Some members of the unit may even pose as minors in Internet "chat rooms" to trap predators. They also will help local law enforcement agencies with technology-based investigations.
DeWine also plans to make it more difficult for predators to hide in Ohio communities. More efforts will be made to publicize sex offenders who refuse to report their whereabouts, as required by law.
Sadly, crimes against children are so varied and so much more common that some people realize that DeWine's new unit will have its hands full. Merely cracking down on child pornography is a campaign in itself.
Still, the unit's work should be expanded - and not just to stop sexual predators. Many children's lives are endangered by non-sexual abuse and by simple neglect. The new BCI unit may be able to help child protective services officials in stopping those forms of child endangerment, too.
Making the public more aware of the problem - and Ohioans' individual and official responsibilities to curb it - will be an important task, too. As recent events involving Penn State University illustrate, knowledge of child abuse does not necessarily mean it will be ended and the perpetrators arrested.
Children are Ohio's most valuable resource. DeWine is to be commended for doing more to protect them. Again, if anything, even more needs to be done.