Returning to Huntsville to Share and Learn about Child Abuse

Today is Sunday March 18, 2012 and I am flying from Los Angeles, CA to Huntsville, Alabama to attend the 28th National Symposium on Child Abuse, sponsored by the National Child Advocacy Center.

This conference typically addresses the most important aspects of child abuse, and brings to Huntsville the child abuse experts from around the country. Thus, it is a joy to come to share my knowledge and experience, as well as to learn about the latest developments from my colleagues.

This year, I will be co-presenting two three-hour seminars with Lori Brown. The first on Forensic Interviewing of children with disabilities and the second the First Responder’s Skills when arriving on the scene to a child abuse call.

I first co-presented with Lori last December at the 2nd National Conference on Crime Victims with Disabilities presented by NCVC (The National Center for Victims of Crime) and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).  Lori is the Director of Forensic Services, Crimes Against Children Unit, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, in Watkinsville, Georgia.  She specializes in interviews of children with developmental disabilities or other special needs.

I knew that I had been participating at this conference for many years, but when I checked on my curriculum vitae I learned that I first attended it in 1991. It is amazing at how much time has passed since I first went to Huntsville.

The conference is coordinated by Marilyn Grundy, who is also one of our Consultants on the Disability and Abuse Project! She has always enthusiastically supported workshops on children with disabilities for this Conference. I can honestly say that she is the ONLY conference coordinator to consistently reach out to make sure this population of kids is the focus of a workshop at “Sympo.”

Even though this conference is huge, the presenters are carefully screened. People who have been advocating for children for decades are speakers, including Cordelia Anderson, Julie Kenniston, and Victor Vieth, among others.

There is a significant law enforcement presence and, as times have changed, so have their presentations. Over the last several years there have been more presentations from law enforcement personnel on internet solicitation of children, and dangers of internet, social networks (such as My Space and Facebook), where children have become victims.

I will write another blog about the Symposium when I return home. Rekindling old friendships, making new friends and connections, and enjoying the atmosphere of comraderie and advocates-in-arms is always uplifting.

Many thanks and much appreciation go to Marilyn Grundy for working so hard to make it all happen, and happen so well.