A group of domestic abuse counselors, police officers, detectives, lawyers, district attorneys and more will meet this Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15 to discuss the role of technology in bullying and domestic violence.
The Safe Shelter Symposium on Domestic Violence, which will be held at the Plaza Convention Center (1850 Industrial Circle, Longmont), will host a series of events for kids and adults, as well as industry professionals. The topics for discussion range from those concerning how to talk to kids about digital relationships without being overbearing to how stalkers can use GPS technology to find their victims (and how law enforcement is working to thwart those efforts).
This is the second year for the symposium, which is run by Longmont’s Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley, a group that provides resources like a crisis hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, legal help and more for all domestic abuse victims.
“I think that creating awareness and giving people education is absolutely essential to changing the world and eliminating violence,” says Safe Shelter Executive Director Jackie List. “It has to do with understanding the roots and motivation of one person using power over another.”
List says the symposium has a special focus on how domestic violence affects children, because in her experience, she says “people are not any more generally knowledgeable about how domestic violence impacts children than they were five to 10 years ago.”
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett will give a keynote address on Friday morning about modernizing prevention and prosecution tactics against domestic violence.
List says the symposium was fortunate that Longmont law enforcement has a renowned computer forensics lab, which has now grown to be part of the county Sheriff’s Department. Longmont Police Officer Brian Franke, who helped shape the program, will join Deputy District Attorney Tim Johnson to talk about how they’re using technology to fight technology used by stalkers.
Other topics include how the digital age has ushered in new abuses on women, as technology has made it easy for abusers to share and distribute everything from photos to contact information. There will also be another presentation on revenge porn — the act of former relationship partners sharing compromising photos or videos of another — and how people can protect themselves from being a victim.
The opening Thursday night event will be a community event, List says. With breakout groups for adults and kids aged middle school and above, the talks will include simple and practical ways to stay safe online and recognize warning signs of abuse in others’ social media uses. Being helpful without being overbearing is the trick, says Safe Shelter Development Director Naomi Harris, and so teaching parents how to be efficient with their monitoring is key.
“We do have sessions for parents who have kids and what to look for, how to set healthy boundaries without being hovering or punitive,” Harris says.
The Thursday breakout sessions for kids and adults are free to attend. Tickets to the second day with more law enforcement and legal industry-specific talks are available, along with more information, at safesheltersymposium.org.