For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 23, 2002
Increasing Online Safety for America's Children
Today's Presidential Action
As part of his agenda to increase the safety of America's
children, President Bush is increasing federal efforts to promote
online safety. The President discussed his Administration's commitment
to expanding the investigation and vigorous prosecution of child
exploitation on the Internet. And, he urged the parents of America to
take time to teach their children about staying safe online.
President Bush also called on the Congress to pass the Child
Obscenity and Pornography Prevention Act. This bill, which has already
passed the House, makes it illegal for child pornographers to
disseminate obscene, computer-generated images of children.
Background on Today's Presidential Action
Earlier this month, President Bush hosted the first-ever White
House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children to promote
public awareness of the need to improve children's safety, and to
generate recommendations and best practices from experts in the field.
One of the critical topics discussed at the White House
Conference was the growing threat of cyberpredators. Nearly 30 million
children and youth go online annually, and 75% of children between the
ages of 14 and 17 use the Internet. Research by the University of New
Hampshire found that one in five children between the ages of 10 and 17
received a sexual solicitation over the Internet in the last year. One
in thirty-three received an aggressive solicitation - a solicitor who
asked to meet them somewhere; called them on the telephone; or sent
them regular mail, money, or gifts.
The Internet is a tremendous educational resource for parents,
teachers, and children. Parental, private sector, and government
efforts are continuing to improve online child safety and will help
make the Internet a safer and ever more valuable tool for children. To
that end, the Bush Administration is working aggressively to fight
child exploitation and child pornography on the Internet.
The FBI Innocent Images National Initiative identifies and
investigates sexual predators who use the Internet to exploit
children. Within the past two Fiscal Years, Innocent Images
prosecutions have increased 52% (from 421 to 641). The program will
expand from 24 to approximately 30 undercover operations during FY
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, which are
funded by the Justice Department, provide skills, equipment, and
personnel to help state and local authorities combat child sexual
exploitation. Since 1998, the Task Forces have helped train more than
1,500 prosecutors and 1,900 investigators; served 700 search warrants
and 1,400 subpoenas; provided direct investigative assistance in more
than 3,000 cases; and arrested more than 1,400 suspects. The
President's 2003 Budget seeks to almost double funding for the program
(from $6.5 million in FY 2002 to $12.5 million in FY 2003), which would
expand the regional task force network from 30 to at least 40 states
and provide national coverage.
Federal prosecutions for child exploitation and child
pornography, which include Innocent Images prosecutions, are projected
to increase 17% for FY 2002 ? a 22% increase in the past two Fiscal
Years. With approval of the President's FY 2003 Budget, funding for
the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section will
have increased 44% in two years (from $3.4 million in FY 2001 to $4.9
million in FY 2003).
Examples of Recent Federal Actions Against Online Child
The federal government is actively cracking down against
online child exploitation, include the following operations:
In Operation Avalanche, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service
conducted a joint undercover operation with the Dallas Internet Crimes
Against Children Task Force. To date, 130 individuals have been charged
in the operation, which broke up what is believed to be the largest
commercial child pornography enterprise ever encountered by law
enforcement authorities in the United States.
In Operation Hamlet, the Customs Service dismantled an
international ring of child molesters who, in many cases, molested
their own children and distributed the images over the Internet. Thus
far, 65 exploited children have now been rescued. Twenty-five
individuals have been arrested, including 14 Americans.
In Operation Candyman, the FBI dismantled a major child
pornography ring. More than 110 persons have been charged and 36
convicted as a result of the investigation.
Resources for Parents
President Bush also urged parents to take time to teach their
children about how to stay safe while using the Internet.
There are a number of resources available to help parents
increase their children's online safety, including several federal or
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
(http://www.missingkids.com) offers a variety of resources for parents
and children who are interested in online safety. The National Center, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs
Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local law
enforcement in Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, serves as
the national CyberTipline. To report information about child
pornography and the online enticement of children, parents can log on
to http://www.cybertipline.com or call the Tipline at 1-800-843-5678.
The 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was passed
by Congress to ensure that websites do not ask children for personal
information without parental consent. The FTC has developed a website
with online privacy tips for parents and children at