Boise – Children and families now have increased protection against the rising number of child exploitation cases under two new federal laws taking effect this month, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a longtime Senate leader on the efforts to eliminate violence against women and children, co-sponsored both bills. Crapo discussed the legislation today during an address to the Idaho Summit on Children Exposed to Domestic Violence, organized by the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence and Idaho Partners Against Domestic Violence. More than 750 professionals will be attending the day-long event.
The Combating Child Exploitation Act, S. 1738, and the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act of 2008, S. 431 were signed into law on October 13th.
“This Congress has taken several steps to fight the online and in person sexual exploitation of children, particularly offering increased federal assistance to state and local law enforcement to help them combat this threat to our children and families,” Crapo said. “The bipartisan nature of the compromise legislation agreed to in S. 1738 demonstrates broad Congressional support of efforts to reduce the incidence of child exploitation by augmenting efforts of local law enforcement to help them monitor, apprehend and prosecute those who are committing egregious crimes against children. And, by requiring convicted sexual predators to register their email and instant messaging addresses, the KIDS Act furthers protection for children online by helping law enforcement in its cyber monitoring capabilities.”
Legislation contained in S. 1738 drew notice during an appearance of Ed and Elizabeth Smart on the Oprah Winfrey television program. The Smarts, of Utah, have served as advocates for the legislation since Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from Salt Lake City home and spent nine months held against her will. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also supports the compromise legislation.
“The statistics about online predators are shocking and every parent who has a son or daughter using the Internet should know them,” Crapo said. “A 2005 national study said one in seven children had received unwanted sexual solicitations online. And, four percent of those online had actually received requests to provide sexually explicit photographs of themselves. Idaho statistics show that 88% of Idaho students spend an hour or more per week on the Internet, so few are safe from these heinous crimes.”
S. 1738 establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program in every state, requires the U.S. Department of Justice to prioritize cases where active abuse is identified, expands the type of activities punishable under child pornography laws, makes improvements to the CyberTipline reporting system operated by NCMEC and offers increased resources to the Attorney General in each state and investigatory offices such as the Idaho State Police. The KIDS Act requires convicted sex offenders to register any online communication identifier they utilize such as email or instant messaging address. The KIDS Act also helps social networking sites share information on potential threats to children online and expands the legal definition of possessing child pornography or exploiting children to include accessing by computer visual depictions of child pornography with the intent to view.
Crapo joined other speakers at the Summit, which seeks to share information about abuse prevention among health care providers, counselors, advocates, attorneys, law enforcement, social workers and the Idaho Judiciary. He partnered with Ada County, Boise City, the Idaho Coalition and others to make the FACES Center a reality in Boise. FACES assists victims of domestic violence with a one-stop location to receive treatment after a crime is committed.