Attorney General Eric Holder today announced that the Department of Justice released its first-ever National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. The strategy also provides the first-ever comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation in Indian Country, and outlines a blueprint to strengthen the fight against these crimes.
Attorney General Holder flanked by Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler and Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children discuss the role of nonprofits as they wait for the press conference to begin.
Mr. Ernie Allen begins the press conference and introduces the Attorney General.
"When they hear the term "child trafficking," most Americans think that it only happens somewhere else, in Southeast Asia or Central America. … What we have learned is that it is happening on Main Street USA, and that most of the victims are American kids who initially leave home voluntarily. One police commander said to me, "the only way not to find this problem in any community is simply not to look for it." The good news is that America has begun to look. The bad news is that we have barely scratched the surface.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that at least 100,000 American children are the victims of commercial sexual trafficking and prostitution each year. "
Attorney General Holder telling the audience that it is "time to intensify our efforts" in protecting children across our country.
"Since the Justice Department launched the Project Safe Childhood initiative in 2006, investigations and prosecutions of child exploitation crimes have increased dramatically. Unfortunately, we've also seen an historic rise in the distribution of child pornography, in the number of images being shared online and in the level of violence associated with child exploitation and sexual abuse crimes. Tragically, the only place we've seen a decrease is in the age of victims.
This is unacceptable. And although we've made meaningful progress in protecting children across the country – in rural areas, inner cities, tribal communities and online – and although we've brought a record number of offenders to justice in recent years, it is time to renew our commitment to this work. It is time to intensify our efforts."
Eric Holder, Attorney General, explains that key components of the strategy.
"This new Strategy provides the roadmap necessary to do just that [intensify our efforts] – to streamline our education, prevention and prosecution activities; to improve information sharing and collaboration; and to make the most effective use of limited resources…. As the Strategy makes clear, we intend to fuse cutting-edge technologies with traditional methods of law enforcement and recovery and to better leverage the capacity of our law enforcements partners, as well as the broad network of nonprofits actively engaged in the fight against child exploitation and abuse."
Gary Grindler, Acting Deputy Attorney General, and whose office will be eagerly spear-heading the renewed efforts acknowledged numerous partners and related some recent "wins" to the audience.
Two major operations highlighted include Operation Nest Egg which targeted more than 500 people worldwide. In the US more than 50 have been arrested and convicted. He also discussed the FBI's Operation Achilles which is targeting a sophisticated internet group trading child pornography. All of the identified U.S. members have been convicted and most are serving life sentences.