Protecting Children, Strengthening Families
"The safety and well-being of our children is a shared priority for all Americans and Federal, state, and local authorities. We must use every available resource to find and safely return missing children to their families and their homes, and we must use every available tool to vigorously prosecute and severely punish those who would do our children harm."
- President George W. Bush, April 10, 2003
- President Bush signed the PROTECT Act in April 2003, which gives law enforcement new tools to prevent, investigate, and prosecute violent crimes against children and increases punishment for Federal crimes against children.
- President Bush instituted a national initiative to expand and coordinate the AMBER Alert system, which notifies the public about child abductions. Since the President announced his AMBER Alert initiative in October 2002, AMBER Alerts have been credited with helping recover approximately 100 children.
- Laws against child pornography have been strengthened. In the last three years, Federal prosecutions for child pornography and exploitation have increased more than 40 percent.
- Operation Predator, a comprehensive initiative to safeguard children from foreign national pedophiles, human traffickers, international sex tourists, and internet pornographers, was launched. Operation Predator has resulted in more than 3,200 arrests nationwide and 500 arrests by foreign law enforcement.
- President Bush signed legislation requiring states to conduct criminal background checks on prospective foster and adoptive parents.
- A new abstinence initiative will double the funding for abstinence-only education; develop model abstinence-only education curricula; review all Federal programming for youth addressing teen pregnancy prevention, family planning, and STD and HIV/AIDS prevention, to ensure that the Federal government is sending consistent health messages to teens; and create a public education campaign designed to help parents communicate with their children about the risks associated with early sexual activity.
- The President announced a $450 million mentoring initiative to support schools and non-profit, community, and faith-based organizations in matching disadvantaged children with caring adult mentors.
- The Bush Administration has successfully defended the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires that schools and libraries have internet safety measures in place to filter content that is harmful to minors, in order to receive federal money for internet access. The President also signed the Dot Kids act which designates that ".kids" websites will be safe for children and monitored for content, safety, and objectionable material.
- Smoking, drinking, and the use of illegal drugs among teenagers all fell between 2001 and 2003.
Encouraging Safe and Stable Families
- President Bush signed the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act to help states promote adoption for children in foster care and provide post-adoptive support to families.
- The President signed the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003, which provides extra incentives for states to increase adoption of older children.
- The adoption tax credit increased from $5,000 to $10,000 per child.
- The President has proposed $240 million per year in Federal funds over five years to support healthy marriages through research, demonstration projects and technical assistance on family formation and healthy marriage activities.
- The President has asked for $50 million to fund a new initiative promoting responsible fatherhood by providing low-income fathers with job training, subsidized employment, career-advancing education, skills-based marriage and parenting education, and mentoring.
- The percentage of high school students who reported ever having had sex was significantly lower in 2003 than in 1991.
- The divorce rate has fallen steadily for more than a decade.
- The proportion of children in married-parent families rose slightly since 1999 - the first increase in more than two decades.
- President Bush called on Congress to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.