Law Enforcement and Community Members Partner to Combat Crimes Against Children
JACKSONVILLE, FL—U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and representatives of several federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are continuing the observance of National Missing Children’s Day (May 25th) by today convening in Jacksonville, Florida to announce the national Take 25 child safety campaign. This campaign highlights the cooperative efforts among federal, state, and local agencies to prevent, enforce, and prosecute crimes of exploitation against children. The Take 25 campaign was created in 2007 by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). This campaign encourages parents to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety and ways to prevent abduction.
“Child predators are using more cunning and persuasive techniques to lure and exploit innocent children,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III. “It is up to us, as a community, to educate and protect our children from these hidden dangers—online and elsewhere.”
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 the sexual exploitation of minors. In 2006, Project Safe Childhood was launched by the Department of Justice as a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat child exploitation by combining law enforcement efforts, community action, and public awareness. It marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. The goal of Project Safe Childhood is to reduce the incident of sexual exploitation of children.
From October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, with the close assistance of numerous federal, state, and local agencies, brought 292 Project Safe Childhood cases against 297 individuals. The charges in those cases vary by defendant, but they include conspiring to travel in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct, production of child pornography, distribution and receipt of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. In addition, the MDFL has prosecuted numerous cases involving human trafficking, where individuals, including minors, were forced to commit commercial sex acts. These cases were brought by each of the five division offices of the Middle District of Florida.
Children of all ages are victimized by child pornography producers, from as young as infants and toddlers to adolescents. About half of the victims are younger than 12 years of age. NCMEC reports that 24 percent of identified victims were pubescent, and 76 percent were prepubescent.
Law enforcement agencies participating today’s event included the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; State Attorney’s Office (Fourth Judicial Circuit); Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office; Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.