Project Safe Childhood – Background
-Project Safe Childhood (PSC) is a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. The threat of sexual predators soliciting children for physical sexual contact is well-known and serious; the danger of perpetrators who produce, distribute, and possess child pornography is equally dramatic and disturbing.
-The Department of Justice is committed to the safety and well-being of every child and has placed a high priority on combating sexual exploitation of minors. Through a network of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, PSC coordinates efforts to protect our children by investigating and prosecuting online sexual predators.
-PSC is implemented through a partnership of U.S. Attorneys; Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces; federal partners, including the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service; advocacy organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC); and state and local law enforcement officials in each U.S. Attorney’s district.
Project Safe Childhood Is Working
-Under PSC, the number of federal child exploitation prosecutions has increased significantly, along with the number of federal, state, and local investigations and convictions, and more and more victims are being identified. PSC’s education and awareness efforts complement this focus on enforcement.
-In U.S. Attorneys' Offices, 2,118 indictments were filed in fiscal year 2007 against 2,218 defendants. This represents a 27.8 percent increase over fiscal year 2006 (1,657 cases filed against 1,760 defendants).
-In fiscal year 2007, 332 child exploitation cases resulted in the forfeiture of 458 assets. The value of the forfeited assets is $5,237,490. This represents a 492.7 percent increase over fiscal year 2006.
-In fiscal year 2007, ICAC Task Forces made 2,354 arrests for online child exploitation crimes across the nation, an increase of nearly 15 percent over the number of arrests in fiscal year 2006.
-At the end of calendar year 2005, 590 child pornography victims had been identified through the efforts of NCMEC’s CVIP. As of April 27, 2008 that number had grown to 1,342 -- an increase of more than 127 percent of the total in approximately two and a half years.
Education and Awareness:-The Department sponsors a number of resources to help educate parents about how to keep their kids safe on the Internet, including NetSmartz.org, isafe.org and WebWiseKids.org.
-Since launching in 2004, the Online Sexual Exploitation campaign has garnered over $188 million in donated media support, and the toll-free number, 1-800-THE-LOST, has received more than 225,000 calls.
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces
-In 1998, the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recognized the Internet’s dangers and the real risk of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, and developed the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program. The purpose of ICAC is to help state and local law enforcement agencies acquire the knowledge, equipment and personnel resources they need to prevent, investigate and stop sexual crimes against children.
-There are now 59 ICAC Task Forces across the country, each composed of state and local law enforcement agencies. These ICACs are on the front line addressing computer facilitated child sexual exploitation through aggressive investigations, prosecutions, computer forensics and community outreach.
-Since the program’s inception in 1998, the Task Forces have reviewed nearly 200,000 complaints, resulting in the arrest of almost 11,000 individuals across the country intent on sexually abusing children. In fiscal year 2007 alone, ICAC investigations led to more than 2,400 arrests and more than10,500 forensic examinations.
-Once source of complaints reviewed by the ICAC Task Forces is Cybertipline referrals forwarded from the National Center for Missing Exploited Children. These referrals typically come from Internet Service Providers. The Cybertipline has received over 500,000 tips and complaints since 1998.
-ICAC Task Forces regularly conduct undercover operations across the country netting individuals bent on enticing and traveling to meet with those they think are young, vulnerable children.
Continued Support for Project Safe Childhood Efforts
-In 2007, the Department awarded $4 million in PSC grants.