Department of Justice
Project Safe Childhood Initiative
National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction
The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction report presented to Congress in July, 2010 stated the goal of this National Strategy is to prevent child sexual exploitation from occurring in the first place, in order to protect every child’s opportunity and right to have a childhood that is free from sexual abuse, trauma, and exploitation so that they can become the adults they were meant to be.
The Threat Assessment: The threat to our nation’s children of becoming a victim of child exploitation is a very serious one. Investigators and prosecutors report dramatic increases in the number, and violent character, of the sexually abusive images of children being trafficked through the Internet. There is a disturbing trend of younger children depicted in these images, even including toddlers and infants. Offenders have become proficient at enticing children to engage in risky behavior, like agreeing to meet for sexual activity, or even to display themselves engaging in sexual activity through images or webcams. Offenders have been able to master Internet technologies to better mask their identities.
Child Pornography: The expansion of the Internet has led to an explosion in the market for child pornography, making it easier to create, access, and distribute these images of abuse. The child victims are first sexually assaulted in order to produce the vile, and often violent, images. They are then victimized again when these images of their sexual assault are traded over the Internet in massive numbers of like-minded people across the globe. Offenders often gather in communities over the Internet where trading of these images is just one component of a larger relationship that is premised on a shared sexual interest in children. This has the effect of eroding the shame that typically would accompany this behavior, and desensitizing those involved to the physical and psychological damage caused to the children involved. This self-reinforcing cycle is fueling ever greater demand in the market for these images.
Online Enticement of Children: Child predators often use the Internet to identify, and then coerce, their victims to engage in illegal sex acts. These criminals will lurk in chat rooms or on bulletin board websites that are popular with children and teenagers. They will gain the child’s confidence and trust, and will then direct the conversation to sexual topics with the ultimate goal to meet the minor in person for the purpose of engaging in sex acts.
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: Children are being recruited and coerced in the world of prostitution in our own cities. The City of Milwaukee is a source of many minor children, predominately female, who are taken to other locations to engage in prostitution. “Pimps” lure them in with an offer of food, clothes, attention, friendship, love and a seeming safe place to sleep. One the pimps gain this control over the children, they often use acts of violence, intimidation, or psychological manipulation to trap the children in a life of prostitution.
Child Sex Tourism: This involves Americans or U.S. resident aliens traveling abroad for the purpose of sexually abusing foreign children (usually in economically disadvantaged countries). Americans, capitalizing on their relative wealth and the lack of effective law enforcement in the destination countries, easily purchase access to young children to engage in illicit sex acts. The Internet has also revolutionized the child sex tourism industry, by helping individuals to navigate travel in developing countries, and it allows like-minded offenders to gather and exchange information on how and where to find child victims in these foreign locations.
The USAO/EDWI has increased its’ prosecution of each of these identified areas of child exploitation. United States Attorney for the ED WI, James L. Santelle, has stated that anyone who targets a child in this district, will be the target of law enforcement.