The notion of Child abuse is not given front-stage discussion because such societal issues are often associated with the third world and developing countries. It is published knowledge however that large numbers of children in the country are becoming casualties of perpetrators of violence against children. The victimization and enslavement of children usually occur in form of kidnappings, violent attacks, sexual abuse, and online predators. Child trafficking, which is the most common form of Child abuse is the mistreatment of children for economic or sexual purposes, The U.S. Department of Justice has referred to Child trafficking as the process of obtaining or manipulating a minor for the commercial sex act. The Offenders of this crime are called ‘pimps’. Victims of these illicit acts may be forced into all kinds of tasks and situations that discountenance their childhood such as illegal adoption, early marriage, prostitution, etc.
The United States is regarded as one of the primary arrival spots for trafficked and exploited children, with reports coming in from almost all the states in the country. Statistics conducted a few years ago exposed that there was a 25% increase in the cases of human trafficking for sexual and commercial purposes between the years 2017 and 2018. Similarly, out of the 23,500 children reportedly missing in 2018, it is said that 1 out of every 7 missing children is a victim of child trafficking. The victims of these nefarious acts who are U.S citizens are usually held in a slavish state, lacking basic amenities and cut off from their contact with their families. The United States is regarded as one of the world’s biggest dealers of content that promote child abuse. The situation is such that 50% of persons who share and distribute child pornographic materials come from the United States. These dire statistics create an imagery of the intensity of the problem of Child Exploitation facing the U.S.
Crimes Against Children Program
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has initiated a Crimes against Children program which is aimed at:
- Gathering the necessary resources needed to tackle the threat of child exploitation that falls within the jurisdiction of the FBI
- To help in the discovery, and recovery of casualties of child victimization
- To create a positive professional working relationship with other local and international law enforcement agencies to battle child exploitation.
The Bureau has prioritized the investigation of the following child Maltreatment cases:
- For child abductions of minors less than twelve years old, the child is not required to have been missing for 24 hours as is usually the case before the FBI takes action on the case.
- International and domestic sexual activity with minors, as well as the creation of materials containing depictions of child perversion.
- The carnal abuse and molestation of children
- Dealing with materials containing the sexual abuse of a child
- International Parental kidnapping; involves removing a child from the country to hinder the exercise of parental rights as stated by the law.
Furthermore, the Bureau has come up with some initiatives that help to fight particular crimes against children amongst them are the following:
- Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) Team: Established in 2005, they work hand in hand with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit representatives, the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime coordinators, and the child exploitation task force members to ensure the safe return of any child kidnapped in the country and within the confines of the jurisdiction of the FBI.
- Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP): This program was initiated in 2004 to recognize unidentified persons entangled in the perverse and sexual exploitation of children and the promotion of any medium containing contents on the subject of child abuse of a sexual nature.
- Partnership with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC): The bureau assigns some of its human resources to work with the NCMEC in reviewing the data provided via the NCMEC cyber tipline. This team was created to also pick-out individuals engaged in the illegal acts of producing, and distributing, CSAM as well as engaging in sexual relations with children. Data gotten on these suspects from these processes is sent to the FBI field office for further investigation.
- Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force: This group is made up of officers of the law curated from the international community working jointly for the sole purpose of effectively tackling the worldwide issue of child abuse. Created in 2004 it consists of over 60 investigative personnel from over 40 different nations.
- FBI Child App: The Bureau has created an online avenue where children may have their data such as pictures and physical descriptions kept, and if such a child goes unaccounted for, the data may be immediately sent to the authorities from the user’s mobile phone.
How to Participate in the Fight Against Child Exploitation
Dealing with child trafficking is a towering necessity as it protects the innocence of a child and in the long run, creates a habitable society for all. To that effect, the fight against child trafficking requires the participation of all members of society, and the fight may be conducted through different means including:
- Advocating: Persons living within a community may help in resisting child abuse by drawing attention to the issue to the ears of the elected officials. Advocacy programs may also be held to educate people on how they could join in the fight against child abuse.
- Donating: Several organizations are championing the fight against child abuse. Donations to these causes would be considered helpful. An example of an organization to donate to may be the UNICEF USA
- Contact the Authorities: Where a person has intelligence that may help in locating a missing kid is available, such intelligence should be passed on to the authorities like the FBI, the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453), and The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on (1-800-843-5678), the National Human Trafficking Resource Center on 1-800-373-7888.
- The Laws against child abuse should be built up and reinforced to deter persons from being a part of the act of child abuse and molestation and also to support casualties of such societal menace.