The Trump administration is working to combat child sex trafficking and online exploitation, and now the White House has announced the launch of the Safety Pledge Campaign, an initiative agreed to through a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The joint effort was announced Tuesday, Sept. 29, and was led by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, and Senior White House Counsel Ivanka Trump.
Fox News reported that the initiative aims to provide free resources to assist parents, educators, and other caregivers to learn more about the risks children face online by raising awareness about the dangers of child trafficking.
“With an increased use of social media and gaming platforms while at home, there are more opportunities than ever for abusers to exploit children online,” said Ivanka Trump. “This administration is fighting to protect our children from online predators and traffickers at every turn.”
The Trump administration’s proposal comes in the wake of a “dramatic increase” in reports of “sexual exploitation with a potential increase in vulnerability of children,” according to the nonprofit organization NCMEC.
According to the NGO’s reports, online child exploitation has increased by as much as 126% during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Virus pandemic, or new coronavirus.
During the first month of the pandemic’s shutdown, NCMEC reported that the number of reports of online exploitation and abuse tripled from 300,000 to over 1.1 million, with over 70% of those reports coming from social media messages.
“While we continue to develop our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 [the CCP Virus] and social distancing on child safety, we already know that more time online means more direct access to children, including for those intending to harm them,” the NGO states on its website.
“From online enticement to sexting and sextortion, it is critical that we combine efforts to protect children from online risks,” it adds.
A recent study by an NGO indicates that more than 50% of survivors interviewed regarding domestic child sex trafficking knew their traffickers through access to a website, an application, or a text message, Fox News reported.
According to Wolf, several officials have now been appointed to protect child victims of criminals who seek to exploit or harm them, such as cybercriminals.
“COVID-19 has driven children of all ages online, seeking connection and community,” Wolf said. “Sadly, in too many cases, this has also led to the growth of online sexual exploitation of children of all ages.”
Last January, the Trump administration, through an executive order, appointed the first post in the White House exclusively to combat human trafficking.
According to a 2017 World Labor Organization report, an estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for work, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.