Join U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking in our letter to Attorney General William Barr to protect children and prevent online trafficking and exploitation by funding and enforcing the Protect Our Children Act of 2008. You can read more in this short backgrounder and also mail in your own customized letter on your letter head by downloading a word doc version of this letter. Thank you for your support!
Dear Attorney General Barr,
As our nation continues to battle the pandemic of the coronavirus, we hope that this letter finds you and your family in good health.
We are members and partners of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a collaborative, faith-based, national network that offers education, supports access to survivor services, and engages in advocacy in an effort to eradicate modern-day slavery. We are writing to you to express our concern, and request your action regarding another pandemic which is devastating millions of lives—the online sexual exploitation of children.
As the New York Times reported in its 2019 coverage on this crime, over 45 million photos and videos of children being sexually exploited and tortured were uploaded in 2018. These represent an exponential growth in the demand for content that portrays the sexual abuse and torture of children, many of whom are infants and toddlers. More recently, during this time of school closures and online learning, Homeland Security has noted an uptick of online predatory behavior toward children. ECPAT, an organization dedicated to ending child trafficking, points out that online predators are adept at using the most updated technology to conduct their crimes. Similarly, they are able to hide within the far reaches and darkest corners of the World Wide Web. Without adequate protection, every child who uses the internet is a potential victim.
We have laws, such as the Protect Our Children Act of 2008 (S. 1738), which created a national strategy to identify and prosecute those responsible for child online sexual trafficking. However, in order to be effective, this law requires oversight by the Department of Justice, (DOJ). It was noted in the above mentioned New York Times report, as well as in a subsequent letter to you by Congresswoman Wassermann-Shultz, (August 2019), that the DOJ has been deficient in exercising its responsibilities with respect to the required oversight of this law.
Law enforcement and other groups who have dedicated themselves to finding and prosecuting online child traffickers, have testified that they are under-resourced for their work to end this egregious crime (NYT article). Your Department’s oversight of the Task Forces created under the Protect Our Children Act of 2008 includes recommending adequate funding, as well as effective strategies that these Task Forces require to stop child online trafficking. The DOJ has not exercised due diligence. Its failure to send regular reports to Congress has led to a failure of funding. Without adequate DOJ attention and oversight, as required by law, this crime will continue to escalate and perpetrators will continue to act with impunity. The consequences of this for innocent children are unspeakable.
We join the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, (letter from April 30, 2020), in urging you to confront child online exploitation and the proliferation of pornography, which scars human dignity and violates the inherent rights of human beings, especially our vulnerable children. As those who have dedicated ourselves to promoting human rights and dignity, including ending human trafficking in all its forms, we urge you to create a more robust response to the horror of online sexual exploitation of children, by directing your Department to fully implement the responsibilities entrusted to you in the Protect Our Children Act of 2008.
We ask you to please advise us to the steps you plan to take to address our concerns.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
"Human trafficking is a crime against humanity, because it denies the human dignity of the victim, seeing them only as a piece of merchandise to be used to enrich or give pleasure to another."
- Pope Francis
Learn more about the reality of online exploitation and protecting children during this pandemic and beyond through addition resources on our website.
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