These are just a couple of the recent headlines relating to one of the nation’s most successful law enforcement operations: the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, a division of the State Attorney General’s office.
It is truly sad to have need for such an organization. It is sadder still that such an organization is so busy that they are opening satellite offices and seeking increased funding.
But what is absolutely heartbreaking are the preventable stories that come out of their office – stories of prominent, upstanding citizens with a dark, hideous secret; stories of innocent kids caught up in some adult’s horrible, twisted version of reality; stories of caregivers, of parents, of religious leaders, of civic leaders, of average people, of small children, of teens, of “tweens” … stories of loss, sadness and depravity. But thanks to the local ICAC, and similar offices around the country, there are stories of hope.
When we chose to honor John Walsh for his commitment to protecting and recovering children, we felt strongly that some of the local funds raised at our Annual Lifetime Achievement Award Gala needed go toward Utah’s ICAC. We couldn’t neglect the obvious need for such an organization, and the good they are doing, in our own backyard.
A portion of funds raised from our October gala will benefit the ICAC to fund more and better technology, man hours, investigative resources and ultimately, assisting in getting more predators off the streets. We all need to think more about the technology that forces us as parents to worry about the safety of our kids not only at home, in school, at church, at a friend’s house … but in all places! Kids deserve to feel safe and protected, in the real world and in the virtual world, Sadly, too many parents are still unaware of some of the most basic safety rules for kids online.
Like Ken Wallentine, the director of law enforcement at the Utah Attorney General’s Office who likes to say, “Our job isn’t done until every child is safe,” our job isn’t done until every child is OK.
For tips and suggestions on keeping kids safe online, click here.