Shaheen visits Criminal Justice Training Center at UNH

August 10, 2017

DURHAM — Two centers at the University of New Hampshire are at the forefront of protecting children from internet crimes and hope to benefit from continued federal funding.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., visited the National Criminal Justice Training Center in Durham Thursday to get an update on the Center’s operations and talk about the importance of continued grant funding for the Center’s programs.

Shaheen met with NCJTC Director Brad Russ, as well as David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center. She said the work the centers do is very important and she wants to make sure they get the resources they need to continue.

“We need to make sure people all across the country have the kind of training on the tools they are developing here so that they can go out an address perpetrators of child abuse, child molestation, trafficking, and so they know how to bring those cases and be successful,” Shaheen said.

According to Shaheen, Senate Appropriations added more funding to help with the work being done at UNH.

“Now we need to make sure that funding actually gets through the process and is delivered here to UNH and to other places in the country where they are doing this work,” she said.

Russ, a former Portsmouth police chief, said he appreciates Shaheen’s support as a ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science committee, which funds many of their programs.

“New Hampshire can be proud of the fact that right here at the University of New Hampshire we work in close collaboration with the Crimes Against Children Research Center,” Russ said.

Finkelhor said in one of many projects, they have been tracking they way kids use the internet, the kinds of dangers they have come up against, and the number who encounter cyber bullying or unwanted sexual solicitations online.

“Children are the most vulnerable segment of society as far as crime victimization. It’s a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats all believe we should be doing something about it,” he said. “New Hampshire really has been in a leadership role on this for quite a while now, tracking the ways in which kids get victimized and training law enforcement to respond to them.”

Finkelhor said internet enterprises have developed a business model around getting young people adopt their applications and use their websites and they are making a lot of money off them.

“I think they have a responsibility to provide safety and education in those environments in healthy way and to help people who run into completely predictable problems on the sites to get some assistance dealing with abusers of exploiters,” he said.

Finkelhor said they did a study using Facebook “sextortion,” where young people had shared images or someone had gotten ahold of their images and tried to get money or sexual favors to remove them.

“Facebook helped us recruit victims of these kinds of crimes and to get the experiences of about 1,600 of them so we can understand better how they get into those situations and what their needs are,” he said. “It’s not very easy to find help to get the images removed.”

Finkelhor said some of the stories were quite shocking but helped them to understand better how people get into these situations.

Shaheen said there is some legislation that looks at some of these issues, but she is hopeful to better engage the businesses and help them to appreciate the importance of addressing the misuse.

Russ said the various platforms have law enforcement liaisons who work with law enforcement to help gather evidence but it can be challenging because of privacy concerns.

By:  Judi Currie
Source: Foster's Daily Democrat