FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OVC
FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2001 202/307-0703
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOTLIGHTS CHALLENGES IN HELPING
CHILD VICTIMS OF INTERNET EXPLOITATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Internet crimes against children present unique challenges for those serving victims and their families, according to a new bulletin from the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). In many cases, victims may never see the offenders and sometimes do not know they are being exploited.
An estimated 10 million children currently use the Internet, which is expected to increase to 77 million by 2005. A recent survey showed that 20 percent of youth who use the Internet received at least one online sexual approach or solicitation over the course of a year.
“The Internet offers children new opportunities, but also exposes them to dangers they have not faced before,” said OVC Acting Director Kathryn Turman. “Law enforcement officials and victim service providers must take into account the unique aspects of online exploitation cases when working with child victims and their families.”
Internet Crimes Against Children offers suggestions for working with child victims of Internet crime and describes resources available to law enforcement, victim service providers and families. The bulletin describes characteristics that distinguish Internet crimes from other crimes against children:
· Perpetrators can exploit children without touching them or even meeting them.
· The Internet allows for repeated long term-victimization that can continue even without the victim’s knowledge.
· The crimes can transcend communities, states or even countries.
· Many children do not even know they were victimized or report their victimization.
In some cases, children may send innocent pictures of themselves online, which offenders then transform into pornographic images. Children and their families may never find out about this exploitation unless it is discovered by law enforcement. Children who were unwitting participants in their exploitation may have especially pronounced feelings of shame and guilt. Some may deny their involvement.
The nature of Internet crimes against children can present other problems. When the offender lives outside the community, it is difficult for victims and their families to attend hearings, trials or depositions.
The OVC bulletin provides information about CyberTipline (www.missingkids.com/cybertip), an online form for reporting suspected child sexual exploitation operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in partnership with the FBI, U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. NCMEC, which is supported by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), also operates the Child Pornography Tipline (1-800/843-5678).
OJJDP also administers the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program, which helps state and local law enforcement agencies acquire skills, equipment and resources needed to respond to ICAC cases. OJJDP currently supports 30 ICAC task forces, which also provide prevention, education, investigative and other assistance to parents, teachers, law enforcement and other professionals.
Copies of Internet Crimes Against Children, as well as information about other OVC publications, programs and conferences, are available through the OVC Website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc and from the OVC Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872.
Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.
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