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Project Safe Childhood

Project Safe Childhood is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat child exploitation. Initiated in May, 2006, Project Safe Childhood combines law enforcement efforts, community action, and public awareness. The goal of Project Safe Childhood is to reduce the incidence of sexual exploitation of children. There are five essential components to Project Safe Childhood: (1) building partnerships; (2) coordinating law enforcement; (3) training PSC partners; (4) public awareness; and (5) accountability.

The Department of Justice is committed to the safety and well-being of our children and has placed a high priority on protecting and combating sexual exploitation of minors. Since the launch of Project Safe Childhood in 2006, the number of cases and defendants prosecuted by United States Attorney's Offices has increased by 40%, with 2315 indictments against 2427 defendants filed in Fiscal Year 2009. PSC prosecutions by United States Attorneys' Offices have increased each year since the launch of the initiative.

Congress passed the Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2008 (the "PROTECT Our Children Act"). As mandated by the Act, in February 2010, the Department, working with the National Drug Intelligence Center, completed a year long and first of its kind threat assessment of the magnitude of child exploitation. The result of this assessment reports a disturbing trend showing increases, and in some instances significant increases, in all types of child sexual exploitation, including: (1) child pornography; (2) online enticement of children for sexual purposes; (3) commercial sexual exploitation of children; and (4) child sex tourism.

On August 2, 2010, the Department submitted The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction to Congress. In this National Strategy the Department acknowledges that "[d]espite efforts to date, the threat of child sexual exploitation remains very real, whether it takes place in the home, on the street, over the Internet, or in a foreign land." The National Strategy lays out a comprehensive plan both to prevent and interdict in the sexual exploitation of children. The success of the National Strategy depends on a team effort among our local, tribal, state and federal law enforcement partners, on the awareness, dedication and determination of concerned citizens, community organizations, parents, educators, and civil organizations. The Department will call upon a number of its own components, offices and agencies to devote personnel, resources, and time to the issue of preventing, investigating, and prosecuting child exploitation. These components include: the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorneys Offices, Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Office of International Affairs, Office of Justice Programs, and Office of Legal Policy. These components will coordinate and multiple their efforts with the numerous other local, state, tribal, federal, and non-governmental agencies and organizations. This includes the United States Postal Inspection Service, Department of Homeland Security through Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Secret Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, the 61 Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, and numerous other local and state agencies and organizations. The non-governmental organizations that will work alongside our federal, tribal, state, and local partners include the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, Child Help, Darkness to Light, Girls Education and Mentoring Services, Inc., Enough is Enough, i-Safe, Kristi House, Inc., Nevada Child Seekers, Paul Lisa Program, Inc., Web Wise Kids, San Diego Police Foundation, Self Reliance Foundation, Washtenaw Area Council for Children, INOBTR, TechMission Youth Program, PROTECT, and many others.

One of the chief mandates of the PROTECT ACT and the National Strategy is to expand our efforts to coordinate and cooperate with federal, tribal, state, local, and international organizations and agencies in the fight to prevent and interdict in the sexual exploitation of children. Working closely with each other, we will pool our intelligence and resources to ensure that those offenders who seek to entice and compromise our children are brought to justice.

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Updated April 18, 2023