The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana (USAO/EDLA) embraces its commitment 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 are our children safe in their own homes. No longer can teachers and parents let their guard down when our children are in the classroom, library, or even in their own bedroom. The statistics are alarming. One in five children per year receives an unwanted sexual solicitation online. One in thirty-three children per year receives an aggressive sexual solicitation. And perhaps most disturbing, at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the Internet actively seeking out children. The USAO/EDLA is committed to aggressively implementing programs and targeting those who would harm children in order to provide a safer environment for all children in today’s ever expanding and complicated world.
The USAO/EDLA’s Project Safe Childhood (PSC) consists of 5 components; 1) expansion of partnerships 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 of federal, state, and local law enforcement; 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 USAO/EDLA’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 assists law enforcement in their investigations by raising the community’s awareness of incidents involving minors and improve the community’s willingness to report these incidents.
Any questions or suggestions regarding the USAO/EDLA’s PSC program can be directed to Assistant United States Attorney and PSC Coordinator, Brian M. Klebba.
Fact Sheet: Department of Justice
Project Safe Childhood
The growing threat of sexual exploitation crimes committed against children through the Internet is a disturbing and unacceptable trend. The Department of Justice is committed to the safety and well-being of every child and has placed a high priority on protecting and combating sexual exploitation of minors. Much has been accomplished, but more must be done.
The Need for Project Safe Childhood:
As technology advances and as the Internet becomes more accessible, the number of computer-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes committed against children—including child pornography offenses and “traveler” or enticement crimes—will only continue to grow. The goal of Project Safe Childhood is to enhance the national response to this growing threat to America’s youth.
- For every new technology that fills a need for law-abiding citizens, online child sexual exploitation offenders will find a malicious use. Among the most daunting and prevalent is offender utilization of anonymization networks, including Tor and Freenet, to obscure their identities. Because of the perceived anonymity, the most prolific and sophisticated offenders feel empowered to share enormous quantities of the most vile child exploitation images on a multitude of Internet bulletin boards.
- In fiscal year 2014, USAOs obtained 3,248 indictments against 3,422 defendants for offenses involving the sexual exploitation of minors. This represents a 31 percent increase in the number of indictments over fiscal year 2010. These crimes have ranged from production of obscene visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct to receipt, distribution, possession and/or production of child pornography to the direct physical, sexual abuse of a minor.
- Project Safe Childhood has also been highly effective in apprehending and convicting offenders who have traveled or attempted to travel across interstate or foreign borders with the intent to either sexually abuse a minor or engage in other illicit conduct. Many defendants have held positions of public trust – ranging from an elementary school principal to a State Department-affiliated special agent.
Key Components of Project Safe Childhood:
Project Safe Childhood will be implemented through a partnership of U.S. Attorneys, ICAC Task Forces, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement officials in each district to investigate and prosecute crimes against children facilitated through the Internet or other electronic media and communications devices. Communities will be able to design and execute programs tailored specially for their individual needs while maximizing national resources and expertise. There are five key components to this initiative:
- Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases: Each U.S. Attorney will partner 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 Project Safe Childhood. Working with these partners, U.S. Attorneys will develop district-specific strategic plans to coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child exploitation crimes; efforts to identify and rescue victims; and local training, educational, and awareness programs.
- Major case coordination by the Criminal Division: The Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, in conjunction with the FBI’s Innocent Images Unit, will fully integrate the Project Safe Childhood Task Forces into pursuing local leads generated from its major national operations.
- Increased federal involvement in child pornography and enticement cases: Given the beneficial investigative tools and stiffer punishment available under federal law, U.S. Attorneys and the federal investigative agencies will be expected to increase the number of sexual exploitation investigations and prosecutions. The goal is to ensure the worst offenders get the maximum amount of jail time possible.
- Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement: Members of the Project Safe Childhood Task Forces will attend training programs facilitated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the ICAC program, and other ongoing programs, in order to be taught to investigate and prosecute computer-facilitated crimes against children, as well as to pursue leads from national operations and from NCMEC’s CyberTipline and Child Victim-Identification programs.
- Community awareness and educational programs: Project Safe Childhood will partner with existing national public awareness and educational programs that exist through NCMEC and the ICAC Task Force program, in order to raise national awareness about the threat of online sexual predators and to provide the tools and information to parents and youngsters seeking to report possible violations.
Department of Justice Commitment to Project Safe Childhood:
While law enforcement at all levels is already working to combat this issue, a more coordinated national effort is needed to maximize resources, in order to obtain the strictest penalties available under state or federal law. Sexual predators who target the most innocent and vulnerable of our society—our children—will be relentlessly targeted and prosecuted by the Department of Justice. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”