Local child advocates and law enforcement are now better armed for the fight in online crimes against children after spending Aug. 11-14 in Dallas, Texas at the annual Crimes Against Children conference.
Attending the conference from Lincoln County were Sherry Reinhardt, executive director of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse and Child Advocacy Center, Lt. Tim Johnson and Detective Dan Renn of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Sgt. Jason Munday of the Lincolnton Police Department. Presentations ranged from law enforcement, prosecution and child advocacy and the keynote address was given by the director of the FBI, James Comey. Every program was geared toward combating child abuse in its many heinous forms, but Reinhardt was especially adamant about bringing the importance of internet safety back to Lincoln County.
“We live in an age when technology is rapidly advancing toward solutions to many of our greatest human problems,” Reinhardt said. “Yet one of our first and most sacred priorities for the use of technology should be the protection of our children. One in five children are sexually solicited on the internet daily. Keeping child abuse investigators experts in fighting and investigating technology crimes and all crimes against children has never been more important.”
Reinhardt said she felt training of law enforcement in the new age where everyone can access anyone at the touch of a button is crucial when it comes to internet safety for children.
“Nearly every crime today leaves a digital footprint,” Reinhardt said. “The digital trail is vital evidence needed to protect our children from predators and hold those accountable who prey on them, but this trail changes so often that we have to keep our heroes trained and armed well in this fight.”
Munday said the programs and the information that were presented during the conference will help the county in a variety of ways.
“I believe the training received at the conference will be invaluable to the attendees from Lincoln County,” Munday said. “The training was provided by experts from all around the world in the areas of preventing, investigating, and prosecuting child abuse.”
The attendees are taking what they’ve learned and applying it to what they call a Multi-Disciplinary Team, all sharing the same goal of being a voice for children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse.
Reinhardt said the conference will be a benefit to the entire community, and credited different organizations and individual donors for helping to further the fight against child abuse, as well as local law enforcement which works closely with the Child Advocacy Center.
“(It’s) thanks to organizations and individual donors like Boger City Methodist Church, The Lincoln County Community Foundation of the Carolinas,” Reinhardt said. “And because of Sheriff David Carpenter and Police Chief Rodney Jordan’s dedication to fighting child abuse crimes, Lincoln County (deputies) and (Lincolnton) officers will remain some on highest trained experts in this field of investigating technology crimes and for this the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center is so proud and grateful.”