July | August 2018

OJJDP Coordinates National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation

“Child exploitation, any form of it, is a moral abomination, and within this category of evil is a particular kind of depravity that … comes packaged in online images of children being subjected to the most vile and violent treatment,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio in his address at the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation on June 12, 2018, in Atlanta, GA.

“These images—that, unfortunately, each of you has to investigate on a regular basis—contain some of the most unspeakable violations one individual can perpetrate on another. This is some of the most difficult work in law enforcement, and you are the ones doing it. Thank you.”


The Office of Justice Programs and OJJDP have coordinated this specialized training for several years to expand the efforts and knowledge base of law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, and digital forensic examiners involved in investigating and/or prosecuting technology-facilitated crimes against children. Protecting children from online predation and abuse remains a priority for the current Administration.


Approximately 1,500 people attended this year’s training, including OJJDP Administrator Caren Harp and Deputy Administrator Chyrl Jones. Over the past 20 years, OJJDP has built up the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force network from 10 original task forces into a nationwide network of 61 task forces representing more than 4,500 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies that work to combat technology-facilitated child exploitation. Since the program’s inception, task force investigations have reviewed more than 775,000 complaints of alleged child sexual victimization, resulting in the arrest of more than 83,000 people suspected of sexually exploiting children—including more than 10,300 in 2017.


Mr. Panuccio noted that opioid abuse has not only become one of America’s most pressing public health and safety crises, but that it will also eventually profoundly impact law enforcement’s work investigating child exploitation. “The line between drug abuse and child maltreatment is short, direct, and well documented," he said. “Some predators will actually generate a dependency on drugs as a means of controlling young people and trapping them in commercial sex work.”


“Our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and our Office for Victims of Crime are making $47 million available this year to serve child victims and provide intervention for youth who are at risk of coming into contact with the justice system due to their exposure to opioids,” Mr. Panuccio said.


Then Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson also delivered remarks at the event. “Public safety is job number one at the Office of Justice Programs, and protecting children is one of our most critical public safety responsibilities,” Mr. Hanson said. “The safety of our kids depends on highly skilled, highly trained professionals like all of you, and we are committed to providing you the resources your jobs require. We are grateful for all you do, and we are proud to be your ally and your friend.”


To access information on preventing child exploitation, visit the OJJDP and NCMEC websites.