The Trump administration is joining forces with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch a campaign to fight online child exploitation.
A White House official said in a statement that leading administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, will represent the administration at a webinar on Tuesday to give impetus to the “Safety Pledge” initiative, which seeks to combat child exploitation “that often leads to the evil of child trafficking.”
“This initiative aims to provide free resources to help parents, educators, and other caregivers learn more about the risks that children face online and bring awareness to the dangers of child trafficking,” the official said.
“With children online now more than ever, the risks they face continue to grow. From online enticement to sexting and sextortion, it is critical that we combine efforts to protect them from today’s online risks,” the NCMEC stated on the page hosting the webinar, which will detail some trends the nonprofit has identified in online exploitation.
The White House said that, over the past several months, the NCMEC “has witnessed a dramatic increase in reports of child sexual exploitation.”
“With many children being educated remotely this fall and increased use of social media and gaming platforms, there are increased opportunities for predators and traffickers to groom and recruit minors,” the official said. “It is essential that we work together to keep children safe online and out of the vicious cycle of trafficking and abuse.”
One of the ways the NCMEC works to combat child exploitation is by operating the CyberTipline, a platform for reporting incidents of online child sexual exploitation. With more children spending time online amid the pandemic, reports to the tip line have surged by as much as 126 percent during the outbreak.
Partnering with the NCMEC on the “Safety Pledge” is the most recent in a series of Trump administration actions to fight child exploitation and human trafficking.
In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to set up a working group at the Department of Health and Human Services to help with the housing needs of survivors of human trafficking. It also established the first ever White House employee position focused solely on tackling human trafficking in the the United States and directed the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to fund programs in schools aimed at prevention of child exploitation.
As a consequence of Trump’s executive action, the Justice Department last week awarded over $100 million in grants, which will support victim service providers, strengthen human trafficking task forces, and provide housing assistance to victims.