Eugenia Tyner-Dawson, Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs
Office of Justice Programs
15th Oklahoma Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
Oklahoma City, OK
September 6, 2007
Thank you, Dr. Bonner. I appreciate your kind introduction. It has been an honor to be a part of the conference. I would like to thank all of the conference organizers. I would also like to thank U.S. Attorney Richter for being here today.
I am proud to be here on behalf of the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, Regina Schofield. We appreciate the work you do.
Your efforts to promote the health and well-being of abused and traumatized children and their families improves the lives of the children and families you touch, and makes the communities in which we all live safer, healthier places to live and grow.
I know you have a busy day ahead, so I would like to just briefly touch on some of our work with state, local and tribal professionals to protect our nation’s children.
Our best known effort is the AMBER Alert program. During the past eleven years, we have seen a single, local program grow into a powerful national network. Amber Hagerman’s legacy has helped recover 350 children.
As the National AMBER Alert Coordinator, Ms. Schofield is working with tribal representatives and a national working group to involve tribes more closely in our AMBER efforts.
OJP has set aside funds to implement AMBER Alert plans in tribal communities. Once the appropriate plans are in place, these funds will bridge the gap between tribes and state and regional AMBER Alert programs across the country.
Last year, we conducted 10 regional trainings around the country about how to use Child Abduction Response Teams, or CARTs, which we hope will build on the success of the AMBER Alert program, and give local law enforcement agencies another tool to use when they are working on child abduction cases.
CARTs can be used for all missing children cases and can be deployed as part of an AMBER Alert or when the abduction does not meet the AMBER Alert criteria.
Another area of tremendous concern for us is the online exploitation of children. The Department’s Project Safe Childhood initiative brings together federal, state, and local effort involving law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, and community-based organizations to fight online child exploitation and abuse.
The foundation of Project Safe Childhood is the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program. The ICAC program is a network of 46 state and locally led task forces set up in regions throughout the country.
These task forces are supported by our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and their purpose is to assist in investigations, provide forensic support, and help prosecute cases. They also offer training and technical assistance, aid victims, and provide community education.
Since the inception of the ICAC Task Force Program in 1998, thousands of arrests have been made in cases ranging from small, local operations to worldwide networks involving millions of traded images.
The educational component of Project Safe Childhood centers on training and public awareness programs designed to teach children and parents how to navigate the Internet safely. We’d be very interested in any ideas you might have to enhance the public education component of Project Safe Childhood.
We also have been working hard to implement the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Our Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking Office, under the direction of Laura Rogers, issued the proposed Adam Walsh guidelines last May.
Comments on the proposed guidelines were due on August 1. As we review the comments and develop the final guidelines, we will do everything we can to help states and tribes monitor, track, and apprehend sex offenders.
We have made a special effort to work with Indian tribes on Adam Walsh implementation. Ms. Schofield hired a full-time staff member in the SMART Office, Leslie Hagen, to work with tribes. You can contact Leslie at
202-514-4689 or at GetSMART@usjoj.gov.
Leslie and I have traveled extensively throughout Indian country these past several months to respond to questions and concerns raised by tribes. Ms. Schofield will also form an advisory group of tribal leaders to keep her informed on Adam Walsh Act issues.
Another very important issue is having a tremendously negative effect on families and communities—increasing methamphetamine use.
We have worked with other federal, state, and local officials and leaders to sponsor the largest, single nationwide education effort warning about the dangers of using meth. Last month we partnered with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to sponsor a Tribal Meth Summit.
We also are very concerned about possible health effects to children exposed to the toxic ingredients in meth labs, as well as about the health effects for law enforcement officers who are exposed to meth labs as a result of their duties.
Our Office for Victims of Crime has funded a new initiative to create a National Drug Endangered Children Resource Center. The resource center will provide critical information to local, tribal, state, and federal agencies, on how to help children harmed by drug abuse, including meth.
We hope that the Resource Center will also be a useful tool for tribal communities, especially in areas with methamphetamine problems.
We are working to ensure that the latest research findings related to meth exposure are available to law enforcement and incorporated in training sessions.
A comprehensive list of resources and training opportunities from across the government and across the country is available at MethResources.gov.
Last month we completed our fourth national tribal training and technical assistance session. These sessions provided information to tribes about our grants and resources. We discussed many of the topics I have mentioned today and that you have examined during this conference.
We convened these sessions in close coordination with our federal partners, including BIA, the Department of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and many others.
Most importantly, three of these sessions included consultations that brought together tribal leaders with government leaders from many federal departments to discuss local concerns and address federal policies impacting the tribes.
We will have three new tribal training and technical assistance sessions, including tribal consultations, in Fiscal Year 2008, starting with one in Albuquerque, New Mexico in late November. That session will feature the National Tribal Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability.
Ms. Schofield also established a Justice
Finally, I’d like to encourage everyone to visit our Tribal Justice and Safety in Indian Country Website, www.tribaljusticeandsafety.gov. Please bookmark it. It is a free, comprehensive resource that brings together the numerous components of the Department of Justice that work on tribal issues.
Again, I thank you for your attendance, and for your commitment to your communities. And I wish you well in all that you do.