WASHINGTON – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced a Department of Justice partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and the Ad Council in a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to help raise awareness about the dangers of online child sexual exploitation. Part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, this series of ads will target teen girls with a message of protecting themselves by not posting images or information that might put them at risk for online victimization.
The sexual victimization of children - including child pornography offenses and enticement crimes - is a widespread problem in the United States. The Internet continues to provide new avenues for child predators to contact and groom their victims. According to “Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later,” a Department of Justice study, one in seven child Internet users has received sexual solicitations, one in three has been exposed to unwanted sexual material and one in 11 has been harassed. Also according to the study one in three child Internet users had communicated with someone that they did not know in person and one in nine formed close relationships with someone they met online.
“The existence of online predators is a very real threat for children using the Internet,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “This ad campaign will raise awareness to help safeguard against sexual exploitation and abuse by encouraging children to protect their identities and images when socializing online.”
“A recent survey shows a large increase in the proportion of youth posting personal information and pictures online so this is a timely campaign,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. "Our partnership with the Department of Justice will help us address this potential threat to kids by educating teens about how this activity could put them at risk for victimization.”
Developed in 2004 by NCMEC and the Ad Council with the pro-bono assistance of Merkley + Partners, the initial campaign, entitled “Help Delete Online Predators,” focused on educating parents about online sexual exploitation. The ads guided parents and guardians on what they can do to help protect their children from online predators and encouraged them to report sexual solicitations to NCMEC’s CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com. The second series of PSAs, released in 2005, aimed to deter teen girls from forming online relationships with unfamiliar people by delivering the message, “Don’t Believe the Type.” The ads warned teen girls that online predators are skilled at manipulating teens into potentially exploitative and dangerous situations. Teens were also encouraged to visit cybertipline.com to learn how to protect themselves and to report incidents.
Following the success of the previous campaigns in alerting both parents and children to the threat of online sexual exploitation, the new series of PSAs will be distributed in early 2007. The new campaign will continue to engage teenage Internet users with the message of protecting themselves online by not posting images or information that might put them at risk for victimization.
In February 2006, Attorney General Gonzales announced the creation of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), an initiative designed to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation through the Internet. PSC is intended to help law enforcement and community leaders develop a coordinated strategy to prevent, investigate and prosecute sexual predators, abusers and pornographers who target children.
In addition to partnering with NCMEC and the Ad Council, the Department of Justice has undertaken several other initiatives to achieve the goals of PSC. A primary focus of the project is to integrate federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases. This year, the Department of Justice awarded grants totaling $13,850,000 to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program, a national network of 46 regional task forces funded by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs. Additionally, each U.S. Attorney has partnered with ICAC Task Forces that exist within his or her district and other federal, state and local law enforcement partners working in the district to implement PSC.AD CAMPAIGN PARTNERS