The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (USAO/EDWI) is committed to the protection of our children. Advances in technology over the past two decades have brought about new obstacles for parents, educators, and law enforcement. No longer can parents and teachers let their guard down when our children are in the classroom, library, or even in their own homes. The statistics are alarming. One in five children per year receives a sexual solicitation online. One in thirty-three children per year receives an aggressive sexual solicitation. Perhaps most disturbing, at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the Internet actively seeking out children. 95% of sexual assault cases reported to authorities are committed by family members or know acquaintances (Snyder and Sickmund 2006). In a study of Internet-initiated sex crimes reported to law enforcement, 44% of crimes were committed by family members and 56% were committed by people known to the victim offline, including neighbors, friends’ parents, leaders of youth organizations, and teachers; known cases involving strangers are extremely rare (Mitchell et al. 2005b). A study of criminal cases in which adult sex offenders were arrested after meeting minor victims online found that most minor victims knew they were going to meet adults for sexual encounters.
The USAO/EDWI is committed to aggressively implementing programs and targeting those who would harm children in order provide a safer environment for all children in today’s ever expanding and complicated world.
The USAO/EDWI Project Safe Childhood (PSC) program consists of five components: 1) expansion of partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement in prosecuting child exploitation matters, identifying, rescuing and assisting child-victims; 2) continued participation in national initiatives; 3) expanding federal involvement in child exploitation investigations; 4) training federal, state, and local law enforcement; and, 5) community outreach and education.
Collaborative efforts between federal, state, and local law enforcement not only facilitate the sharing of resources but ensure that the most dangerous offenders receive the most serious punishment available. The goal of the educational components of the USAA/EDWI’s PSC program is to raise the public’s awareness about the threat and prevalence of online sexual predators and to provide the tools and information to educators, parents, and children to help reduce the likelihood of harm to children and to assist law enforcement in their investigations through the reporting of incidents involving minors. Additionally, this educational component of the PSC program assistants law enforcement with their investigations by raising the community’s awareness of incidents involving minors and improving the community’s willingness to report these incidents.
Penny L. Coblentz, Project Safe Childhood Coordinator
US Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin