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Child Exploitation Escalating, Says Justice Department

Monisha Bansal | Staff Writer | Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Child Exploitation Escalating, Says Justice Department

(CNSNews.com) - While touting recent federal and local law enforcement initiatives to combat child exploitation, the U.S. Department of Justice along with the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children say the problem is "escalating."

"I think it is fair to say children are in more danger than ever before from child exploitation," said Drew Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

"We see child pornography escalating, not just in terms of numbers, not just in the amount or frequency of distribution of child pornography we see, but most especially in the nature of the child pornography we see," he said, noting that there are more images of children being violently raped and abused.

Ernie Allen, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, added that one in five girls and one in ten boys are sexually abused by age 18.

"Kids are the most victimized sector of the American public," said Allen. But with only a third of the cases being reported, he added, "This is largely a case of hidden victims."

Oosterbaan said despite the size of the problem, "the response is also unprecedented."

"We're going to make sure every inch of this country is covered to protect against this problem," he said.

Law enforcement will be using abduction teams devoted to finding kidnapped children as quickly as possible; newer technology that will enable them to have a more targeted search area for a child; and increased efforts to crack down on domestic child prostitution, child pornography Internet child predators.

Allen said his group is working to "eradicate child pornography by 2008."

But Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality for Focus on the Family, said the Justice Department isn't doing enough. "Children are not being exploited in a vacuum. They're being exploited in a vast culture of exploitation," said Weiss.

"There are some very positive developments, but I think that we are still disappointed, even dismayed at the almost total inattention to enforcing federal obscenity laws," Weiss told Cybercast News Service. "And the reason that concerns us so much is far more kids are exposed to hard core pornography online than are ever abducted or used for child pornography, as heinous and horrendous as that is.

"We are allowing illegal material that commodifies adults, basically to proliferate. When you allow anyone to become a sexual commodity it isn't too much of a stretch for that to include children. I think that has led to more child exploitation," Weiss added.

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