The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas (USAO/ARW) 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. 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/ARW 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/ARW’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/ARW’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 improves the community’s willingness to report these incidents.
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.