With Reports of Child Sexual Abuse Material Online on the Rise, Senators Call on the Administration to Update National Strategy to Eradicate Exploitation
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and colleagues are pushing the Biden administration to take action to ensure a whole-of-government strategy to dismantle the scourge of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Despite cases of this child abuse skyrocketing, the federal government’s strategy for years has been a patchwork of efforts – some statutorily required, some not. As part of this, the federal government operates numerous programs and initiatives to address human trafficking, with few focused solely on commercial sexual exploitation of children and addressing this pressing issue here at home.
The Senators in their letter also highlighted that the Attorney General is statutorily required to file a “National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction” annually, in accordance with the Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology To Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act (PROTECT Our Children Act), yet the previous administration failed to act on this.
"The Biden administration has shown a commendable commitment to protecting our children. As such, we respectfully ask you to seize the opportunity to reinvigorate the Executive’s work to prevent, investigate and prosecute the scourge of [commercial sexual exploitation of children]. In doing so, we urge you to come into full compliance with the statutory requirements of the PROTECT Our Children Act without delay," the Senators wrote to President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland. "Of course, the devastating human cost of this crisis demands action beyond the minimum required by law. To that end, we urge you to provide increased transparency, accountability and coordination within the federal government’s efforts to find and prosecute child predators, help protect and support their victims and prevent further harm to children. "
Senator Hassan is working to provide support to survivors of violent crimes. Earlier this year, President Biden signed into law bipartisan legislation supported by Senator Hassan to strengthen support for victims of violent crimes by preventing deep cuts to programs that provide critical support and compensation to survivors of violent crimes, including survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Last year, Senator Hassan and a bipartisan group of her colleagues introduced the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2020, which would help prevent the human trafficking and exploitation of children by providing grants to train students, parents, teachers, and school personnel to understand, recognize, prevent, and respond to signs of human trafficking. The Senator also previously cosponsored bipartisan legislation to create a private cause of action allowing victims of rape and sex trafficking, as well as individuals whose intimate images are distributed without their consent, to sue pornographic websites that profit off their exploitation. Additionally, the Senator and her colleagues introduced bipartisan legislation last December to allow individuals to seek compensation and relief in federal court for the non-consensual disclosure and transmission of intimate images of them, often referred to as “revenge porn.”
Click here for the full letter.