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Important Youth Safety Forums For Parents, Guardians in August

In this article I’m spotlighting an important series of community meetings we’re hosting to help parents, grandparents, and other guardians learn how to protect our children from Internet predators and other dangers.

These forums will include presenters from the Volusia Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department Of Children & Families. The events are planned throughout August in DeLand, Deltona, DeBary and Pierson.

We will answer questions and target Internet dangers, the risks of using social media and apps, the facts about human trafficking, and how to keep your kids safe from online predators.

These discussions were prompted by the recent arrest of a 29-year-old Cocoa Beach man who traveled to Deltona to have sex with a 12-year-old girl. The victim’s family alerted us after they discovered the girl shared videos on her phone showing her being intimate with an unknown man whom she met on a mobile app called Wink and communicated with on Instagram.

Thankfully, our crime analysts were able to identify this suspect and document his vehicle traveling into our county on two previous occasions that the victim said she met with him.

Thanks to the quick work of everyone in- volved in this case, our detectives were able to intercept him after he talked online with an undercover sheriff’s detective, thinking it was the victim. The detective arranged to meet him in Deltona. When the suspect arrived, multiple deputies and detectives were waiting to take him into custody.

This man is charged with multiple felony charges and remains held in the Volusia County Branch Jail on $350,000 bond.

This story may be shocking to many of you, but unfortunately, it’s happening in our county, and everywhere. Parents, grandparents, and guardians need to know about the mobile devices and apps your kids have access to and closely monitor their activity.

Wink is a social networking and friendship app for children 13 and up. The app’s website states it’s not intended for dating. However, the reality is, online predators are exploiting these same apps that kids use. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to give predators an app that lets them pick exactly what age girls and boys they want to meet.

This arrest means one less predator but sadly, more are out there, waiting for their opportunity. Please take time to attend these forums to help protect our kids from predators who want to steal their childhood.

The meeting schedule is below. Each event runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

• Mon., Aug. 7, Tomoka Christian Church, 1101 E. Plymouth Ave., DeLand
• Wed., Aug. 9, Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd., Deltona
• Mon., Aug. 28, DeBary City Hall, 16 Colomba Road, DeBary
• Tues., Aug. 29, Mission San Jose of Saint Peter, 165 Emporia Road, Pierson


  • A list of the most popular social media and networking apps used by kids is available at: https://protectyoungeyes. com/apps/
  • Several safety guides are available at including sexual abuse prevention information intended to prevent molestation, sexual assault, online luring, harassment, sexting, bullying/cyberbullying, identity theft, self-harm, and more.

Let’s bring something good for our community out of a tragic situation. Please join us at these important meetings.

See You There,
Sheriff Chitwood