Group gets $10,000 gift from city to fight child sex abuse

June 09, 2009

A group of dedicated grandparents and volunteers now has an extra weapon in its arsenal against child sexual abuse, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the city authorized by Akron City Council.

Council Monday night authorized the donation to G.A.S.P., Grandparents Against Sex Predators, to fund the group's continued efforts to improve child safety, help find missing and abducted children, assist local law enforcement in predator-related projects, and educate the community on recognizing and preventing child sexual abuse. The money comes from fines generated from the city's speed enforcement cameras, which has been earmarked to fund groups like G.A.S.P. and other child safety education programs.

In introducing the legislation, Ward 10 Councilwoman Kelli Crawford praised G.A.S.P. for its tireless efforts to assist law enforcement and protect children from sexual predators, including the group's recent use of the social networking site Facebook to track registered sex offenders.

"They are dedicated to child safety," Crawford said. "They've fingerprinted more thanĀ 3,000 children, they've been trained by the Summit County Sheriff's Office to help conduct field searches, and recently have begun using Facebook to aid law enforcement in child sex abuse cases."

G.A.S.P. gained notoriety recently for searching Facebook for profiles established by local convicted child sex offenders, which is against the site's policy.

The all-volunteer group was founded in 2006 by Akron entrepreneur Fran Doll. Its members are trained by local sheriffs' departments to aid in searches for missing children, become civilian arms of law enforcement, and provide community education programs to teach sexual abuse awareness and prevention, including Internet safety.