Traveling with Peace of Mind this Summer!

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In recent months, five Americans, who were on separate vacations in the Turks and Caicos Islands, were arrested when bullets were discovered in their luggage during routine security checks. While the tourists claimed that the bullets were left in their bags accidentally and had no malicious intent, the local authorities have taken the matter seriously. Turks and Caicos has stringent gun control laws, and the possession of ammunition without proper authorization is a serious offense. This is an important reminder for everyone as we set off to travel this Summer!

Traveling should be an exciting adventure, whether you’re exploring a new city, hiking through a national park, or relaxing on a tropical beach. However, safety should always be a priority. From securing your home while you’re away to staying vigilant on your trip and paying attention to local laws, here are some essential tips to ensure a worry-free journey.

  1. Avoid Posting in Real-Time on Social Media

DON’T: Posting in real-time on social media not only announces your current location to the world, potentially attracting unwanted attention, but also informs the world that your home is likely empty and a great target for theft. Innocent features like geotagging on Instagram stories can make your location public to people beyond your followers. Similarly, posts in Facebook groups can sometimes be visible to a wider audience than intended.

DO: A general rule of thumb is to wait until you’ve left the destination to start sharing your experiences. An even safer option than posting in real-time is to wait until you get home to post about your travels!

  1. Research Local Scams

DON’T: Tourist destinations can attract scammers. Looking like a tourist can make you an even larger target for scams. Avoid flashy jewelry and eccentric clothes to minimize attracting attention, and don’t carry items you be devastated to lose. Don’t carry all your cash at once or keep all your money and cards in the same location.

DO: Researching local scams in addition to general travel scams can help you know what to look out for and how to protect yourself from falling victim. A quick Google search combining your destination and the word “scams” can provide valuable insights into common tricks and tactics. Keep your most valuable items like your phone, credit cards, and passport safe. Some people prefer to wear money belts, while others use jackets with inside pockets for easy access and security. Most of all, pay attention to your surroundings. Most petty thefts and scams occur while people are distracted. Remember, if something feels too good to be true, it probably is.

  1. Understand Local Laws and Regulations

Don’t: Different countries have different laws. Permissible actions at home, like carrying ammunition (as in the cases of the five Americans in Turks and Caicos), certain swear words, or even feeding local wildlife, might be illegal abroad. Always check local regulations before you go. Being unaware of local laws and regulations is not an excuse, and you may subject yourself to local fines, or even jail time if you do not abide by local laws and regulations.

Do: Always check local regulations before you travel. If you travel with medication, ensure it’s allowed in your destination. Some countries have strict rules about what can be brought across their borders. Be sure to carry a printed document including all contact information you may need in case of emergency. This document should include your emergency contacts, the phone number of the embassy in the country you are traveling, medical and insurance information, etc. Having this document with you at all times could be the thing that keeps you safe in a moment of crisis.

So what happened to those Americans arrested in Turks and Caicos?

Two of the five Americans have already received their punishment for their respective offenses:

  • Bryan Hagerich received a sentence of a $6,700 fine and no time serviced.
  • Tyler Wenrich received a sentence of 3-weeks, which have already been served, and a fine of $9,000
  • Ryan Watson, Sharitta Grier, and Michael Lee Evans are all still awaiting their sentences.

Traveling should be an enjoyable and enriching experience. By following these safety tips, you can protect yourself from potential risks and focus on making the most of your journey. Always stay informed, vigilant, and prepared, and you’ll be able to travel with peace of mind. Safe travels!

Empowering Voices: Celebrating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

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Every April, communities across the United States come together to commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), and this year it will be observed from April 21-27,2024. This important occasion serves as a reminder of the resilience and courage of those impacted by crime, while seeking to reaffirm our collective commitment to support victims and survivors. This year, as we reflect on the theme “How Would You Help?,” we are called to action, not only to recognize the rights of crime victims, but also to actively empower their voices and uplift their stories to help them in their quest for justice and healing.

Support Victims:

At the heart of NCVRW lies a profound dedication to supporting victims of crime. Whether it’s providing access to vital resources, offering emotional support, or advocating for their rights within the criminal justice system, support for victims is paramount. Through organizations like Crime Stoppers of Houston and countless others nationwide, victims find a lifeline—a community of caring individuals committed to walking alongside them through their darkest moments. Trust is the cornerstone of any meaningful relationship, and it is especially crucial in the context of victim advocacy and support. Building trust means creating safe spaces where victims feel empowered to speak out, seek help, and pursue justice without fear of judgment or retaliation. It requires a commitment from law enforcement, community leaders, and organizations to listen, validate, and respect the experiences of victims, fostering a culture of trust and empathy.

Engage Communities:

Community engagement is the catalyst for change. It is through collective action and collaboration that we can truly make a difference in the lives of crime victims. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an opportunity for communities to come together, raise awareness, and mobilize resources to support victims and survivors. From awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to volunteer opportunities and fundraising events, there are countless ways for individuals and organizations to get involved and make a meaningful impact. As we observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we hope you will join us for some of our events throughout the week.

  • April 21st: Crime Victim Rights Week Event @ Elenor Tinsley Park | 9am-11am
  • April 23rd: Crime Victims Rights Week Proclamation @ City Hall | 1:30pm
  • April 25th: Harris County PCT. 5 Recognition & Information Fair @ CrossRoad Church (700 Westgreen Blvd. Katy, TX 77450) | 9am-11am

Understanding Sexual Assault and Promoting Awareness in 2024

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Sexual assault is a pervasive issue that continues to affect individuals regardless of gender, age, race, or beliefs. Despite efforts to raise awareness and prevent such incidents, it remains a significant concern in our communities.
Sexual assault encompasses a wide range of non-consensual sexual activities, including but not limited to rape, unwanted touching, groping, and coercion into sexual acts. It is a violation of personal boundaries and autonomy, often causing profound physical and psychological harm to survivors. Awareness serves as a crucial tool in combating these cruel offenses.

Changing Dynamics in 2024

In recent years, there has been a notable shift in how sexual assault is perceived and addressed. Technology and social media have played a pivotal role in amplifying survivors’ voices and holding perpetrators accountable. Additionally, there’s a growing acknowledgment that individuals from marginalized communities may face compounded vulnerabilities. One of the cornerstones of preventing sexual assault is promoting a culture of consent. At Crime Stoppers we work to provide a heightened emphasis on educating individuals about affirmative consent, which involves enthusiastic, ongoing, and mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity. Consent is a subject that we cover in all sexual assault and unhealthy relationship prevention education starting in 6th grade.  This societal shift challenges notions of silence or lack of resistance as consent and empowers individuals to prioritize communication and respect in their relationships.

Changing Dynamics in 2024

In recent years, there has been a notable shift in how sexual assault is perceived and addressed. Technology and social media have played a pivotal role in amplifying survivors’ voices and holding perpetrators accountable. Additionally, there’s a growing acknowledgment that individuals from marginalized communities may face compounded vulnerabilities. One of the cornerstones of preventing sexual assault is promoting a culture of consent. At Crime Stoppers we work to provide a heightened emphasis on educating individuals about affirmative consent, which involves enthusiastic, ongoing, and mutual agreement to engage in sexual activity. Consent is a subject that we cover in all sexual assault and unhealthy relationship prevention education starting in 6th grade. This societal shift challenges notions of silence or lack of resistance as consent and empowers individuals to prioritize communication and respect in their relationships.

Supporting Survivors & Taking Action

Supporting survivors of sexual assault is paramount. Today, there’s a greater emphasis on providing accessible resources and services for survivors, including counseling, medical assistance, and legal advocacy. Additionally, destigmatizing survivor experiences and fostering a supportive community are integral to healing and recovery. Each of us has a role to play in combating sexual assault and promoting awareness.

Here are some ways to get involved:

  1. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about issues related to sexual assault, consent, and bystander intervention. You can request prevention education and resources through Crime Stoppers of Houston by submitting a presentation request form here:


  1. Speak Up: Challenge harmful attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate rape culture. Use your voice to advocate for survivors and promote respect and consent, especially with those closest to you. While it is sometime more difficult, it is imperative that we hold those closest to us accountable for their actions.


  1. Support Organizations: Contribute your time, resources, or expertise to organizations working to prevent sexual assault and support survivors. Some of our partners working in the sexual assault space include:


  1. Listen and Believe: Create a supportive environment for survivors by listening without judgment and believing their experiences


Sexual assault awareness remains a critical component of public safety and victim advocacy. By understanding the dynamics of sexual assault, promoting consent culture, supporting survivors, holding those closest to us accountable, and taking action, we can work together to reduce sexual violence in our communities. We encourage you to further your knowledge about sexual assault by visiting our resource center at:

Understanding and Addressing Child Abuse: Lessons from “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV”

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For several years, allegations of child abuse have emerged from actors from well-known networks such as Nickelodeon and Disney Chanel. In her 2022 memoir, Jennett McCurdy, who played Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam & Cat, alleged that Nickelodeon offered her a $300,000 payout to keep quiet about questionable treatment of her and other stars. Most recently, a 4-part documentary series called Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV features several childhood stars and Nickelodeon employees who recount the inappropriate working conditions. Specifically, Drake Bell of Drake and Josh talks openly about the abuse he experienced during his time as a childhood star.

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As we recognize Child Abuse Awareness Month, it is important to examine the role we, as a society, play in enabling opportunities for abuse.

Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse:

The documentary underscores the importance of recognizing the signs of child abuse, which can manifest in various forms including physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, and even human trafficking of minors. The documentary begins with numerous examples of Dan Schneider suggesting, encouraging, or even forcing children on his shows to participate in sexually explicit jokes or scenes. Some examples of sexual innuendo see on these shows include:

  • Forcing a young, Leon Frierson, to play “Nose Guy” on then Amanda show in which he was forced to have a giant “nose” affixed to his face and two “noses” that clearly resemble male genitalia affixed to his shirt.
  • On Zoey 101, actress Alexa Nikolas, was asked to bite into a jelly pop that ultimately squirts onto Jamey Lynn Spears’ face. Nikolas says that she did not realize the sexual encounter this scene resembled until she was an adult herself.
  • Throughout the shows Schneider produced, he commonly integrated scenes featuring the feet of child actors as well as scenes of kids eating pickles or handling long potatoes all to resemble sexual acts.

While Dan Scheider has never been charged with any form of child abuse, the sexualization of children is a major step in grooming tactics used by perpetrators. Arguably, many adults who worked for Nickelodeon, as well as those viewing the shows, knew that many of the scenes and scenarios were at best inappropriate, and at worst, predatory.

Since the documentary aired in March, Dan Schneider issued an apology for his actions on a recent podcast episode. View the podcast episode below:

Do you think his apology was sufficient?

Understanding the Dynamics of Grooming:

One of the most insidious aspects of child abuse is grooming, a process in which perpetrators manipulate and exploit children for their own gratification. “Quiet on Set” sheds light on classic grooming tactics employed by abusers, such as befriending, fulfilling emotional needs, and gradually isolating victims from trusted adults. The most glaring example of clear grooming in the documentary presents itself when Drake Bell opens up about the abuse he experienced at the hands of his dialogue coach, Brian Peck. Here are some of the tactics Peck used to groom Drake Bell when he was a young actor.

1. Targeted Drake

    • Honestly, we may never know why Peck targeted Drake, and one of the most horrifying realizations is that any child could become a target of predators.

2. Befriended Drake.

    • Brian Peck pretended to take interest in anything Drake was interested in. Not only would he show up at Drake’s band performances that were quite far from Peck’s house, but he also knew things like Drake loved Disney so he would take him to full days at Disneyland. Drake says “He had pretty much worked his way into every aspect of my life” in reference to how much time he was spending with Peck.

3. Gained Trust

    • In the situation of Drake Bell, Brian Peck had to gain the trust of Drake’s mom so that she would allow him to be alone with Peck on a regular basis. He did this by first meeting with Drake as his dialogue coach in Drake’s home, then offering to drive him back and forth to LA for work, and even threw Drake a big birthday part as a teen.

4. Fulfilled a Need

    • Drake’s “need” was multifaceted, he needed someone with industry experience to help him navigate the work of child acting AND he needed someone to logistically drive him back and forth from his home in Orange County California to Los Angeles for work. Brian Peck made himself available to “help” Drake and his family over a long period of time.

“I realized it was all so calculated, you got, you moved all pieces into place. The whole thing was mental manipulation” -Drake Bell

5. Isolated Drake

    • Drake’s dad was always wary of Brian Peck and even told Drake’s mother to “never leave Drake alone with Peck” which threatened Peck’s long term goal of abuse. With this in mind, Brian worked to isolate Drake from his father and ultimately convinced Drake to say he didn’t want him to be his manager anymore. At that point, Drake moved in with his mother and that is when Peck gained unsupervised access to Drake.

6. Capitalization with Drake

    • Brian Peck ultimately went on to sexually assault Drake Bell repeatedly when Drake was a teen. He went on to be arrested for 11 counts of Child Sexual Abuse and was convicted of “lewd acts with a minor” and sentenced to 16 months in prison in 2004.

“I often look back at that time and wonder how in the world I survived.” -Drake Bell

By understanding the tactics used by predators, we can better equip ourselves to recognize and intervene in grooming situations like the one Drake Bell experienced as a teenager.

Importance of Speaking Out and Seeking Help:

A crucial takeaway from the documentary is the importance of speaking out against child abuse and seeking help for victims. The bravery of individuals who come forward with their experiences, as demonstrated by figures like Drake Bell, serves as a powerful reminder that silence only perpetuates the cycle of abuse. It’s essential for victims to know that they are not alone and that there are resources available, including hotlines, counselors, and support groups, to assist them in their journey toward healing and justice. I encourage you to watch the documentary to learn how Drake’s girlfriend’s mother stepped in to help him, but I can’t give the ENTIRE documentary away.

Holding Perpetrators Accountable:

The documentary highlights the necessity of holding perpetrators of child abuse accountable for their actions. Despite the challenges and complexities involved in prosecuting abusers, it’s essential for society to prioritize the safety and well-being of children by pursuing justice and imposing appropriate consequences for perpetrators. By sending a clear message that child abuse will not be tolerated, we can work towards creating safer environments for children to thrive.

Promoting Prevention and Education:

Ultimately, preventing child abuse requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses education, awareness, and proactive intervention. Educating children about personal boundaries, safe touch, and consent empowers them to recognize and resist abusive behaviors. Likewise, providing training and resources for adults, including parents, educators, and caregivers, equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect children from harm. Crime Stoppers of Houston has been offering prevention education since 2013 and we would love to speak to you and your community about preventing child abuse.

Request a presentation HERE

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV serves as a sobering reminder of the pervasive nature of child abuse and the urgent need for action. By recognizing the signs of abuse, understanding grooming dynamics, speaking out against abuse, holding perpetrators accountable, and promoting prevention and education, we can collectively work towards creating a safer and more nurturing environment for all children. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of vulnerable children and break the cycle of abuse. So, I leave you with these questions to grapple with:

How much responsibility do you think we have to speak up when we see potentially predatory behaviors?

What keeps us from doing so?

Is simply not supporting companies who display predatory behaviors enough?


Get ready for summer camps, safely!

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Summer is just around the corner! Are you wondering if your child is ready for summer camp? Perhaps you’re contemplating between day camps and sleep-away camps. If summer camp is on your mind, there are several safety considerations we urge you to research.

  1. Child Protection Policies: Ensure that the camp has robust reporting procedures for abuse, sexual violence, and neglect, both internally and externally.
  2. Employee Background Checks: Does the camp conduct criminal background checks on its employees and counselors? Are campers supervised by trained counselors or certified staff?
  3. Staff Training: Are staff members trained in first aid and CPR?
  4. Medical Care: Does the camp have adequate medical care facilities?
  5. Emergency Protocols: Does the camp have clear emergency procedures in place? While we hope they’re never needed, staff should be trained to handle unforeseen emergencies.
  6. Communication with Parents: Before sending your child to camp, inquire about how you will receive updates or notifications—whether through email, a special app, etc.
  7. Compliance with State Guidelines: Does the camp adhere to the state’s Youth Camp Licensing guidelines?
  8. Safety Audits: Does the camp undergo safety audits annually or inspections by an accredited company, or does it self-regulate safety policies?
  9. Previous Complaints: Are there any previous complaints posted online?

This checklist may seem extensive, but every parent and guardian wants their child to be happy, healthy, and above all, safe. To feel confident about entrusting your child to a camp, it’s essential to do your due diligence.

In addition to physical safety, it’s crucial to prepare children socially and emotionally. Have conversations with your kids about setting boundaries and reporting any discomfort, sadness, fear, or confusion they may experience. Teach them how to identify trusted adults and stress the importance of advocating for their own health and safety, as well as that of others.

Summer camp can create cherished childhood memories and provide incredible experiences, but prioritizing basic safety preparations is paramount for caregivers.