June 20th– 22nd I and 4 other Bright Horizons staff members attended the 2011 National Conference hosted by the National Center for Victims of Crime.  Two of my favorite workshops were “Teen Dating Violence and Prevention through Peer Education”, and “Trekking through Tech: Victim Service Technology Policies”.  The teen dating workshop highlighted dynamics of teen dating violence and how to develop and maintain peer groups.  This was very interesting to me as I sponsor a peer group of 7th-9th graders at O’Neill high school called B-PG (bully prevention group).  At the conclusion of this session many of the attendees, including myself, signed up to network via an e-mail group to help with new ideas for each of the programs peer groups.  There are many different states represented in this group I am excited to be in collaboration with them.

The breakout session about technology and stalking was eye opening, to say the least.  I was aware that victims could be tracked in numerous ways but not to the extent that I learned about in this session.  It is very accessible on the internet to learn how to stalk someone, whether it be from implanting gps devices on phones or in vehicles to downloading software onto a computer that a stalker can use to track what the victim views on their computer.  There is also a web site that a perpetrator can visit to change the phone number that appears when making a call to the victim.  The use of technology to stalk is serious and will continue to become more advanced.  We as advocates need to be aware of these abilities so that we can educate our victims to help keep them safe.

The conference was great and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to visit our nation’s capitol.  I learned valuable information to enhance our services so that we can better provide for our clients that seek assistance from our agency.

Bright Horizons crew at the DC Conference.Pictured here Gina Clyde (former Program Director) Jamie Drahota (Bookkeeper, Advocate) Samantha Pluegge (shelter advocate) Andrea Johnson (Criminal Justice Liaison) Amanda Wallace (Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator)