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National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction

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The PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 requires that the Attorney General develop and implement a National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction (National Strategy). The first National Strategy was published in 2010. This, the second National Strategy, builds on that work.

The National Strategy is a culmination of a year of discussions among members of an inter-agency working group convened by the National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction at the Department of Justice (DOJ, or the Department). The National Strategy first discusses the work of federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors since 2010, as well as other agencies and offices that play important roles in this work by supporting victims, providing grants to state, local, and tribal governments and non-profit partners, and educating the public about the dangers of child exploitation, and also the work of the non-governmental National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Second, it provides a threat assessment that addresses the nature and scope of the problem and updates the assessment contained in the 2010 National Strategy. Third, it lays out plans for continuing the fight against child exploitation in four key areas: investigations and prosecutions; outreach and education; victim services; and policy initiatives. Fourth, the National Strategy has a section dedicated solely to child exploitation in Indian Country, as the issues there are often unique. Finally, a series of appendices include statistics on federal prosecutions; detailed tables of information on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC program) funded by DOJ; research on child exploitation funded by DOJ; a summary of the survey on which the threat assessment is based; and the text of DOJ legislative proposals. Throughout the National Strategy case studies are included as examples of child exploitation prosecutions brought by DOJ.

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This section of the National Strategy provides a comprehensive overview of existing efforts to combat child exploitation, including those by non-governmental organizations such as NCMEC.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The FBI leads Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs), collaborating with nearly 400 state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute individuals and enterprises that sexually exploit children. The FBI also leads the Innocence Lost National Initiative (ILNI) to address the problem of children being recruited into prostitution by sex traffickers. Currently, the ILNI operates as part of 71 CETFs nationwide. Under the ILNI, the FBI conducts Operation Cross Country annually to recover children from sex traffickers and coordinate victim services for identified victims.

The FBI also leads the Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI), a proactive, intelligence-driven, multi-agency investigative operation that focuses on combating the proliferation of child pornography and child sexual exploitation worldwide. The IINI provides centralized coordination and analysis of case information that is both national and international in scope. In Fiscal Year 2014 through 2015, the IINI program was credited with over 2,900 arrests and 2,200 convictions involving the online sexual exploitation of children. In addition, the FBI operates a Child Sex Tourism (CST) Initiative targeting U.S. citizens who travel abroad to engage in sexual activity with children. Finally, the FBI operates a Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) Team to provide a nationwide resource to support child abduction and critically missing children investigations.

The FBI’s work is supported by the Violent Crimes Against Children (VCAC) Intelligence Unit, which engages in intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination; identifies VCAC threats, trends, and vulnerabilities; writes national-in-scope intelligence products; identifies intelligence gaps and collection requirements; and provides actionable intelligence to law enforcement, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, private industry, and the public to aid in the identification, recovery, and prevention of child victims. In addition, FBI’s Digital Analysis Research Center provides digital forensic extraction and analysis, testimony, and support to the FBI’s VCAC program.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

ICE HSI’s child exploitation investigations focus on two areas of enforcement, under the auspices of what is known as Operation Predator: disruption and dismantlement of individuals and groups involved in: (1) the possession, receipt, distribution, transportation, advertisement, and production of child pornography; and (2) travel in foreign or interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, ICE HSI has initiated over 35,000 criminal investigations and arrested over 13,000 child predators. Also part of Operation Predator, ICE HSI’s Angel Watch is an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators who have been previously convicted of sex crimes against a child. ICE HSI strategically alerts foreign law enforcement partners through its ICE HSI Attaché offices of a convicted child predator’s intent to travel to their country.

Key to ICE HSI’s fight against child exploitation is its Cyber Crimes Center (C3), Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU). The CEIU directs ICE HSI in its mission to investigate producers and distributors of child pornography, as well as individuals who travel abroad for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The CEIU employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading. The CEIU provides assistance to ICE HSI field offices, coordinates major investigations, and conducts undercover operations throughout the world to identify and apprehend violators.

ICE HSI has also launched the Victim Identification Program to combine technological and investigative capabilities and resources to recover child victims of sexual exploitation. After the discovery of material that depicts an unidentified minor or minors being sexually abused, ICE HSI analyzes and enhances the material in order to identify clues that may lead to the identity of the victim, suspect, or geographic location. Another crucial program to help victims is “Project VIC,” launched in August 2012, by law enforcement agencies, technology firms, and non-governmental organizations to create efficiencies, adopt innovative technological solutions, and promote a victim-focused methodology to reduce backlogs in forensic analysis of images of sexual exploitation of children. Today, Project VIC has thousands of law enforcement users in the United States and 32 countries.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

USPIS investigates sexual exploitation of children when it involves the U.S. mail. USPIS works closely on investigations with DOJ, and from 2010-2015, Postal Inspectors have arrested more than 500 offenders. Furthermore, a Postal Inspection Service analyst works out of a NCMEC facility, handling, among other duties, all evidence submissions by law enforcement agencies to NCMEC’s CVIP; receiving and coordinating thousands of requests by law enforcement for a review of images for known and identified victims; and handling CyberTipline reports made available to law enforcement that indicate the U.S. mail may have been used to facilitate any part of a child’s sexual exploitation. From 2010-2015, the USPIS analyst reviewed more than 104,000 CyberTipline reports, 801 of which were distributed to Postal Inspectors for further action.

U.S. Marshals Service (USMS)

USMS plays a unique role in efforts to combat child exploitation though its fugitive apprehension program, Sex Offender Investigations Branch (SOIB) investigations, and missing children recovery operations. Between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2015, USMS received approximately ten thousand requests for assistance from law enforcement in fugitive cases involving the sexual exploitation of a child. USMS has apprehended approximately 9,000 of those fugitives. In addition, between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2015, USMS investigators opened 16,320 investigations of convicted sex offenders and arrested 2,671 individuals for violation of their federal sex offender registration obligations. USMS also works closely with NCMEC to recover missing and exploited children, and between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2015, recovered 427 children.

DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS)

CEOS consists of 32 personnel, including 20 attorneys, a seven-person High Technology Investigative Unit (HTIU), an investigative analyst, a child victim-witness program coordinator, paralegals, and administrative staff. CEOS leads DOJ’s Criminal Division’s campaign against the sexual exploitation of children by shaping domestic and international policy, providing guidance and training to other prosecutors and law enforcement agents, identifying trends in online technology, initiating proactive national and international investigations, and employing first-of-their-kind investigative and prosecutorial tactics and techniques. In Fiscal Years 2013, 2014, and 2015, CEOS spearheaded 14 national and international operations that have resulted in the investigation of more than 2,600 individuals in the United States and generated leads against more than 8,000 foreign suspects.

CEOS’s HTIU provides critical case support for this work, both in individual cases and in systematically improving law enforcement’s response to these technological challenges. Examples of HTIU’s cutting-edge work include the development of a protocol to proactively mitigate offender’s use of encryption; the design of an efficient working model to handle cases with exceptionally large volumes of media; the development of forensic approaches to identify offenders who use mobile applications, and methods of conducting investigations on anonymous networks.

CEOS partners with all U.S. Attorney’s Offices and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as foreign law enforcement, to operate nationally and transnationally, and with key non-governmental organizations, foreign governments (through bilateral and multilateral efforts, and through international police organizations such as INTERPOL and Europol) and foreign entities such as the G8, the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, and WePROTECT. CEOS also engages the private sector in order to help technology companies find ways to fight child sexual exploitation.

U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAOs)

The 94 USAOs across the country prosecute crimes against children as part of the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) program. With support from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) and CEOS, each U.S. Attorney guides the entire law enforcement community in his or her district to work as a cooperative team to combat sexual exploitation of children. First established in 2006 as a coordinated prosecution and training effort, PSC was initially focused on technology-facilitated crimes against children. In 2011, PSC was expanded from its original focus to include every type of federal crime involving sexual violence against children. Following the expansion, each U.S. Attorney conducted a threat assessment in his or her district and developed a strategic plan for addressing PSC crimes, which was coordinated through DOJ headquarters for consistency across all districts. These plans not only include ways to improve investigations and prosecutions of child sexual exploitation, but also address the integration of victim services and support into the PSC coalitions. Furthermore, each district’s victim assistance staff has been trained to ensure child victims have access to services aimed at addressing their unique and challenging needs and to coordinate their efforts with the Victim Assistance Specialists/Victim-Witness Coordinators within the PSC coalitions’ law enforcement agencies. As a result of the expanded PSC program, the number of federal child exploitation prosecutions has increased significantly, along with the number of federal, state, local, and tribal convictions, and the number of victims being identified. In Fiscal Year 2014, the 94 USAOs filed 3,248 indictments against 3,422 defendants, representing a 31% increase over Fiscal Year 2010.

INTERPOL Washington

INTERPOL Washington, a component of DOJ, is designated by the Attorney General as the official U.S. representative to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). As the national point of contact for INTERPOL in the United States, INTERPOL Washington routinely exchanges criminal investigative data with international counterparts on behalf of the more than 18,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States. Its work in the fight against child exploitation includes tracking sex offenders, providing law enforcement agencies with international investigative assistance, supporting international efforts to locate and recover missing children, maintaining the INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation Database of images to assist investigators, and issuing international alerts for child sex offenders.

Bureau of Prisons (BOP)

BOP houses a substantial number of individuals with a current or prior conviction for a sexual offense. As of January 1, 2016, such individuals comprise approximately 12.1% of the Bureau’s total population, including inmates who victimized children, adults, and, in many cases, both. The Bureau offers reentry programs which afford sexual offenders in Bureau institutions the opportunity to change their behavior patterns, thereby reducing criminality and recidivism and increasing the likelihood that they will become productive, law-abiding citizens. This approach is guided by a respect for victims of sexual abuse and is based upon the belief that treatment services for sexual offenders can increase their ability to live healthy, non-abusive lives with the ultimate goal of making communities safer.

DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Within OJP, several offices address child exploitation matters. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides national leadership, coordination, and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. Among other responsibilities, OJJDP provides funding and training support for the ICAC program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing more than 3,500 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in both proactive and reactive investigations, forensic examinations, and criminal prosecutions. By helping state, local and tribal agencies develop effective, sustainable responses to online child victimization—including responses to child sexual abuse images—the ICAC program has increased law enforcement’s capacity to combat technology-facilitated crimes against children at every level. In addition, in 2010, OJJDP added a new initiative to bring the ICAC program to Indian Country. Finally, because the Department understands that arrests alone cannot resolve the problem of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, the ICAC program is also dedicated to training law enforcement officers and prosecutors, as well as educating parents and youth about the potential dangers of online activity.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) supports law enforcement, courts, corrections, victim services, technology, and prevention initiatives that strengthen the nation’s criminal justice system. Since 2004, BJA has provided funding to more than 40 human trafficking task forces across the United States. Those task forces conducted nearly 5,544 investigations that resulted in charges against 1,558 traffickers. Among the 2,071 confirmed victims who were identified and recovered in the last five years were 1,052 minor victims.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the Department and is dedicated to researching crime control and justice issues. NIJ provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of crime and justice, particularly at the state and local levels. NIJ supports a variety of research in the area of child exploitation. Specific NIJ research projects and findings are detailed in Appendix C.

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) enhances the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims. OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund, created by the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), a major source of funding for victim services throughout the nation, including those in the area of child victimization and human trafficking. The Fund supports thousands of programs annually that represent millions of dollars invested in victim compensation and assistance in every U.S. state and territory, as well as training and demonstration projects designed to enhance the skills of those who provide services to victims. OVC also administers two major grant programs, supporting direct services to crime victims in every state, the District of Columbia, and five territories, and providing discretionary funds in various program areas to meet emerging needs and fill gaps in existing services. And OVC operates a Training and Technical Assistance Center that provides training opportunities for providers and advocates at all levels of victim services. OVC is currently implementing the strategic framework of its Vision 21 Report by launching new programs, expanding the scope of existing initiatives, and continuing collaboration with partner agencies and organizations to develop innovative projects to enhance victim services.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the principal federal statistical agency for criminal justice information. BJS released more than a dozen reports since 2011 with findings on victim services, child exploitation, and child pornography.

The SMART Office administers the standards for the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), providing jurisdictions with guidance regarding the implementation of SORNA, tracking important legislative and legal developments related to sex offenders, and spearheading sex offender management initiatives. In addition, the SMART Office provides technical assistance to territories, Indian tribes, federal, state, and local governments, and to public and private organizations. The SMART Office also responds to concerns from the public about sex offenders in their communities.

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

DOJ’s COPS has assisted in the development of various products to support law enforcement response to child exploitation. For example, COPS funded the International Association of Chiefs of Police to create series of training videos in which law enforcement officers demonstrate possible responses to various scenarios involving child sex trafficking. COPS funded the Texas Department of Public Safety to train patrol officers on the detection, interdiction, and recovery of child victims of crimes and the proper handling of these victims. And COPS worked with NCMEC to publish a guidebook entitled What You Need to Know About Background Screening. This guide provides information for measuring the effectiveness of applying background checks to youth-serving volunteers, which will help to minimize the risk to children, especially children that may be victimized and exploited.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

HHS administers programs to prevent human trafficking, identify victims of trafficking, and provide services to survivors, which includes minor victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) was established in 2015 to combat human trafficking by supporting and leading systems that prevent trafficking through public awareness and protect victims through identification and assistance, helping them re-build their lives and become self-sufficient. OTIP is responsible for the development of anti-trafficking strategies, policies, and programs to prevent human trafficking, build health and human service capacity to respond to human trafficking, increase victim identification and access to services, and strengthen health and well-being outcomes of trafficking survivors. The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) supports projects to increase child sexual exploitation prevention and intervention within runaway and homeless youth programs, many of whom have experienced abuse and neglect and are at-risk for exploitation when living on the streets. The Children’s Bureau (CB) focuses on improving the lives of children and families through programs that reduce child abuse and neglect, increase the number of adoptions, and strengthen foster care. CB accomplishes these goals through, among other means, grant funding for service providers and production of guidance documents.

President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF)

The PITF, a Cabinet-level entity chaired by the Secretary of State, and the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG), consisting of senior officials designated by representatives of the PITF, help coordinate interagency policy initiatives to combat human trafficking, including the sex trafficking of children. Cabinet members meet in the PITF annually, while the same federal departments and agencies also convene more regularly in the SPOG and in its five committees. This coordination ensures a whole-of-government approach that addresses enforcement of criminal law, development of victim identification and protection measures, support for innovations in data gathering and research, education and public awareness, enhanced partnerships and research opportunities, strengthened policies on federal procurement, and strategically linked foreign assistance and diplomatic engagement.

Department of Defense (DOD)

Various agencies within DOD contribute to the fight against child exploitation through cooperation with civilian law enforcement agencies and other partners, as well as implementing policies within the military to prevent child exploitation by members of the Armed Services. Among other efforts, DOD supports child exploitation cases with criminal investigators from the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations (MCIOs) who review exploitation reports made available by NCMEC through the CyberTipline, conduct DOD database searches, and disseminate reports involving DOD personnel to the proper jurisdiction.

Department of Education (ED)

ED helps combat child exploitation by raising awareness about and trying to prevent domestic human trafficking and exploitation amongst school-aged youth. ED informs school leaders, faculty, and students about the problem; helps schools understand how the problem relates to teaching and learning and why it is important for schools to address it; embeds the issue in schools’ emergency operations and management planning; and works with other federal agencies, state and local agencies, and public sector stakeholders to develop and disseminate resource material.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

NCMEC is a private, non-profit organization designated by Congress to serve as a national clearinghouse on issues related to missing and exploited children and works in cooperation with DOJ and other federal, state and local law enforcement, education and social service agencies, families and the public.

NCMEC created the CyberTipline to serve as a centralized reporting mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report suspected child sexual exploitation. Since 1998, the CyberTipline has handled more than 8.4 million reports—nearly half of those in 2015. NCMEC staff review the reports, analyze the content, add relevant publicly available information and make the report available to the appropriate international, state, federal, or local law enforcement agency for independent review and possible investigation. NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program (CVIP) was launched in 2002 to enable NCMEC staff to track child pornography images of children previously identified by law enforcement. Law enforcement officers submit copies of seized child pornography images to federal law enforcement agents working out of the NCMEC facility. CVIP analysts review the copies of the seized images and videos and determine which images contain previously identified child victims. Since 2002, NCMEC staff has reviewed more than 160 million images and videos. Many children have been recovered from ongoing exploitation as a result of CVIP’s technical assistance for law enforcement’s efforts to locate and recover child victims depicted in sexually exploitive images. NCMEC’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) was launched in 2011 to further streamline the ability to make connections between cases of reported online child sex trafficking and active missing child ases. NCMEC’s CSTT consists of specialized Child Sex Trafficking Analysts, Missing Child Case Management teams, and a Child Sex Trafficking Specialist dedicated to supporting law enforcement, social service agencies, legal guardians and families working to locate, recover and support children victimized through sex trafficking.


The National Child Exploitation Threat Assessment in the 2010 National Strategy was the first national assessment by the federal government of the risks posed by child exploitation. The 2016 assessment is based on a comprehensive survey of more than 1,000 investigators, law enforcement managers, prosecutors, analysts, victim service providers, and DOJ grant recipients. The survey focused on changes to the child sexual exploitation threat since the previous assessment and potential threats over the next five years. Key findings of the threat assessment in the five main areas of child exploitation are as follows.

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Child Pornography

  • Globalization. Child pornography cases frequently involve offenders or evidence located abroad, which complicates, delays, or thwarts successful investigation and prosecution.
  • Mobile devices. Mobile devices can be used to photograph or film a child being sexually abused, access child pornography stored in remote locations, and stream video of child sexual abuse.
  • Encryption. Readily available, easy-to-use, often built-in encryption thwarts the collection and analysis of critical evidence in child sexual exploitation cases. Even with proper legal process, law enforcement often is unable to obtain the evidence on an encrypted device, allowing an offender to escape justice.
  • The Dark Internet. Networks of technologies and platforms can obfuscate traditional IP addresses and make it highly difficult to identify offenders. This anonymity emboldens users to commit more egregious offenses than are seen on traditional Internet platforms.
  • Offender Communities. In closed and highly protected online spaces, online communities dedicated to the sexual abuse of children have proliferated. Hand-picked members normalize each other’s sexual interest in children and encourage each other to act on their deviant sexual interests.

Sextortion and Live-Streaming of Child Sexual Abuse

  • Evolving threats. Novel methods of child sex abuse, such as sextortion, continue to emerge in the online context.
  • Evolving means of exploitation. Mobile devices have fundamentally changed the way offenders can abuse children. Apps on these devices can be used to target, recruit or groom, and coerce children to engage in sexual activity.
  • Large number of victims, easily targeted. Offenders are adept at tricking and/or coercing children who are online and typically do so in large numbers.

Child Sex Trafficking

  • The impact of the Internet. Websites like have emerged as a primary vehicle for the advertisement of children to engage in prostitution. At the same time, offenders are using social networking sites as a tool to identify and recruit underage victims.
  • Gangs. In addition to, or instead of, the drug trade, gang members have begun to prostitute children as a means to derive revenue.
  • Concentrated spikes in criminal activity. Major public events, such as championship or all-star sporting events or national conferences, can be venues for child sex trafficking such that offenders will transport children to those events to meet the demand.
  • Offender danger. Unlike other child sex offenders, child sex traffickers typically have extensive criminal histories for a variety of violent offenses.

Child Sex Tourism

  • Exploitation of systemic vulnerabilities. U.S. citizens, often with seemingly legitimate reasons for travel, seek sex with children in countries with high levels of poverty, large populations of at-risk youth, legalized prostitution, and/or fewer law enforcement resources.

Sex Offender Registry Violations

  • Deliberate evasion. Sex offenders who fail to register are often trying to evade their registration obligations so that they can offend again.


The Department and its partners in the National Strategy Working Group have vigorously fought all aspects of child exploitation, but as the threats to our children change, enforcement, victim services, and outreach efforts must change as well. This section of the National Strategy describes future goals and objectives in the fight against child exploitation in four areas: investigations and prosecutions; outreach and awareness; victim services; and policy and legislative initiatives.

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Investigations and Prosecutions

  • Targeting emerging technologies. The Department and its partners will work to create novel investigative approaches to serve as models when prosecutorial teams are confronted with technological obstacles.
  • Targeting offender organizations. The Department will focus on wide-scale investigation and prosecution of networked offenders, often across multiple jurisdictions, in investigations that involve the capture of boards, websites, or remote storage hubs utilized by, in some cases, hundreds or even thousands of offenders.
  • Targeting high-value individual offenders. The Department will prioritize cases involving child pornography producers; offenders in positions of trust or authority over children; Americans who abuse children abroad, especially while serving in U.S. government positions; and American sex offenders who have fled U.S. sex offender registration requirements by relocating abroad.
  • Enhancing international collaboration. The Department will coordinate with all international investigative entities focused on child sexual exploitation offenses, including, the FBI-led Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force, the Virtual Global Task Force, Europol, and INTERPOL.
  • Identifying victims. The Department will enhance national capacity for victim identification, emphasizing the development and use of forensic technology.

Outreach and Awareness Activities

  • Expanding and updating community-based Internet safety outreach efforts. Federal agencies and their partners will expand and update awareness, outreach, and educational measures to prevent child exploitation offenses based on new and emerging threats to children, such as sextortion and new electronic devices and applications.
  • Developing nationwide messages to prevent and deter offenses against children. New public service announcements will include messages on the responsible use of electronic devices and the potential negative consequences to children of sending compromising data and images of themselves to others.
  • Enhancing awareness and educational activities to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Department will engage the existing network of federal agents, prosecutors, and ICAC Task Force members to include outreach and awareness events focused on the commercial sexual exploitation of children into their current activities and will examine ways to include prevention and deterrence messages to potential buyers of commercial sex.
  • Additional awareness efforts on sextortion offenses. The Department will work with its law enforcement partners and non-governmental organizations to develop, enhance and update outreach and educational efforts for children and parents on this specific threat.
  • Law enforcement and prosecutor training. The Department is committed to providing training to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors on the investigation and prosecution of child exploitation offenses through its litigating components, OJPs’ Missing and Exploited Children’s Program, and its annual national law enforcement conference on child exploitation.

Victim Services

  • Coordinating services to victims of child sexual exploitation. The members of the National Strategy Working Group will work with survivors, service providers, and others to establish a stakeholder group to identify and build upon existing collaborative efforts to coordinate the identification and provision of immediate and long term services to victims of child sexual exploitation.
  • Assessing existing models and responses to establish a focused, evidence-based collaborative strategy. While there are numerous programs available to victims of child exploitation, there has been no formal analysis conducted to map what exists and determine how these resources and programs intersect and coordinate.
  • Publishing a summary of findings and guidance to the field. Before proposing new policies, statutes, and programs, the stakeholder group will identify existing laws, policies, and programs and then conduct thorough analyses to determine if they are working to address the specific problem/need.
  • Encouraging innovation through federally funded demonstration projects and, when possible, evaluation of these efforts to better extract and apply lessons learned about what works. This approach can lead the government to identify new, more effective ways of addressing issues that have long plagued communities.
  • Developing a specialized comprehensive housing stability program to better address the needs of victims. There is a lack of available, appropriate homes for children, which sometimes leads to their running away in the first place, but can also result in their returning to the streets to be re-victimized because their living situation is intolerable.

Policy and Legislative Initiatives

  • Improving forensics and assessing the impact of technology. The Department will consider establishing minimum standards for forensic examinations in child sexual exploitation cases and also explore the development of a system for tracking the impact of technology on our ability to identify offenders.
  • Enhancing global coordination. The Department will work collaboratively with our international and industry partners to more effectively work in concert to fight child sexual exploitation, for example, through continued participation in the merged Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online/WePROTECT initiative.
  • Improving the provision of victim services. The Department will work more closely with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; make prosecutors and victim service personnel fully aware of the existing benefits offered by state crime compensation and assistance programs; identify any structural barriers that inhibit funding for victims in protective custody or inhibit use of state crime compensation programs; provide training, outreach, and guidance to enable federal prosecutors to successfully seek restitution on behalf of victims; and ensure that the ICAC Task Forces are fully aware of victim service programs and resources.
  • Developing model state laws addressing child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The Department will explore developing a model state law for expungement of convictions for individuals arrested for prostitution as minors.
  • Improving sentencing and restitution in child pornography cases. The Department will work to reform the sentencing scheme in child pornography trafficking cases to ensure that offenders are appropriately held accountable for the severity of their conduct and will assess the development of measures to improve the tracking of restitution awards and payments in child pornography distribution, receipt, and possession cases.
  • Improving Department and interagency efforts to support research and gather data. The Department will examine ways to improve coordination between its grant-making, law enforcement, and litigating components and other agencies that work on child exploitation matters to develop and implement a coordinated research agenda.
  • Pursuing new legislation. The Department will work with Congress to enact legislation to enhance the response to child sexual exploitation by promoting legislation on restitution for victims of child pornography trafficking offenses and clarify, update, or expand certain criminal statutes.


In January 2010, the Deputy Attorney General announced DOJ’s Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative, declaring public safety in tribal communities a top priority and outlining the responsibilities of the USAOs to federally recognized tribes in their districts. The memorandum identified, in particular, violence against children in Indian Country as a focus of these efforts. In partnership with tribes, the Department’s goal is to identify and implement solutions addressing immediate and long-term public safety challenges in Indian Country, particularly in the area of child exploitation. All USAOs with Indian Country responsibilities have at least one Tribal Liaison to serve as the primary point of contact with tribes in the district, and the Department’s Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) program provides for cross-deputized tribal prosecutors or tribal attorneys to prosecute crimes in both tribal court and federal court as appropriate. The Department also provides training and technical assistance to federal, state, and tribal law enforcement personnel as well as to key stakeholders involved in responding to child exploitation cases through NCMEC, the Tribal Child Protection in Indian Country program, the National AMBER Alert program, and the ICAC program.

Tribes are included in PSC Coalitions, and the National Indian Country Training Initiative (NICTI), USAOs, the FBI, and the ICAC Task Forces are providing PSC training to tribal law enforcement. A number of tribes participate in ICAC Task Forces, either as formal permanent members of the task force on a case-by-case basis.

The prevalence of contact offenses in Indian Country PSC cases raises unique challenges for law enforcement, as such crimes require different training and resources. Obstacles to prosecuting PSC crimes occurring in Indian Country may stem from a lack of trust in off-reservation authorities; a lack of witness cooperation due to the small size of the tribal community; loyalty to the tribal community; and fear of reprisal from suspects and families. There is often family pressure on child exploitation victims not to disclose or to recant allegations of abuse. These dynamics may result in a significant delay in the reporting of PSC crimes or those crimes going unreported. For this reason, training is a significant part of the Department’s forward-looking strategy in Indian Country. As noted above, the Department has instituted a robust training program for federal, state, local, and tribal criminal justice and social service professionals working in or with tribal communities. The NICTI, Amber Alert, and ICAC programs will continue to dedicate training efforts in support of law enforcement, prosecutors and investigators in Indian Country. DOJ will also continue to focus on inclusion of tribal and BIA law enforcement officers in ICAC Task Forces that are already in place in Indian Country.

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This National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction has described in detail the current efforts of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners to find, prosecute, and punish those who prey on the nation’s children. It has described, as well, efforts by those agencies and others to engage in public outreach and awareness to prevent children from being victimized in the first place, whether through enticement of the unwary on-line or through their exploitation on the streets of the nation’s cities. It addressed the unique circumstances that lead to child exploitation in Indian Country and the responses that are necessary to protect tribal victims. It further detailed the efforts by the Department and other agencies to provide services to children that account for the complex, intersecting, and long-lasting harms that exploitation causes. And it has forecast a future of greater technological and global threats. In order to face those threats, the National Strategy has outlined a series of goals for law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers, among others, for protecting the nation’s children. Most importantly, the National Strategy reaffirms our unwavering commitment to ensuring that all children in America are able to reach their potential and are protected from violence and abuse.

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The appendices:

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Updated October 14, 2020