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The News Journal - Stop Exploitation of Children Online


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The News Journal - Stop Exploitation of Children Online

While the Internet has given children access to the world, it has also given the world access to children. Child exploitation on the Internet is exploding at alarming rates. Pornographic images of children are more accessible, and depict younger children and sadistic behavior.

Law enforcement officers have traced child pornography to more than 600,000 computers nationwide. As a grandparent to five young children, this disgusts me.

Unfortunately, federal resources and attention to this are sorely lacking. There are only 32 FBI agents dedicated to investigating child exploitation. Most local agencies do not have the capacity to tackle this. As a result, only 2 percent of known instances of child pornography trafficking nationwide are investigated.

Unless this becomes a national priority, thousands of predators will continue horrific practices with ease.

Here in Delaware, we see what can happen when local, state and federal authorities streamline efforts go after child predators. The Delaware Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, formed in June 2007, involves the U.S. Attorney's office, the State Police and the Delaware Department of Justice. The task force was helped initially by a $250,000 federal grant that provided equipment and training.

The U.S. Congress has also taken numerous steps to protect children. Last year, we passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, legislation I co-authored primarily focused on registering and tracking known child predators.

Evolving technology demands the same dedication and resources.

That's why I've introduced the Combating Child Exploitation Act. When it comes to stopping any kind of crime, success only comes with sufficient law enforcement personnel, financial resources and accountability.

Conservative estimates indicate at least one-third of all traffickers are currently abusing or have abused a child in their neighborhood. If we can track them before they get to even one child, we will have saved a life.

Child pornography is often shared on publicly available peer-to-peer networks also used to download popular music and movies. This insidious behavior is out in the open. However, new technologies also allow a trained officer to identify the computer serial number that is downloading and sharing illegal images and files. With this information, officers can obtain search warrants to search a house and potentially save a child.

We must improve state-to-state communication; increase response time to get children out of dangerous houses and put pedophiles in jail.

Cyber crimes may be virtual, but the impact on a child's life is real. Each time an image of a child is exchanged, that individual is abused again. By the end of the day, there will be almost 3,000 new images up. By the end of the week, there will be 20,000 new images. Unfortunately, this is a growing market satiated by the exploitation of more children. We have to act.

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