LEADING ADVOCACY GROUPS FOR SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL VIOLENCE CALL FOR EXECUTIVE ORDER FROM PRESIDENT BIDEN
February 3, 2023 | Washington, DC: Twenty-six leading organizations working to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children are calling for an Executive Order from President Biden. Today, February 3rd, these organizations released a letter containing signatures from these organizations within the fields of prevention, healing, and justice ahead of the State of the Union on Tuesday.
Sexual violence against children and adolescents in the United States is rampant public health crisis. In 2021, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline received 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, an increase of 35% from 2020 and 73% from 2019. Ninety-nine percent of these reports were of suspected child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). The widespread production, distribution, and consumption of CSAM point not only to the need to prevent the creation of and remove this content online, but also to rescue children who are being abused both online and offline. Abuse can happen to children while at home, at school, in sports, at church, and in other community organizations and activities. It is important to remember that children are at a greater risk of being abused by the people they know including their families, friends, and other adults in their circle of trust.
For a variety of reasons, child sexual abuse is woefully underreported. Statistics indicate that in in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday in the United States. Rates of sexual violence are 7 to 10 times higher for children and adolescents with cognitive and physical disabilities. Gender nonconforming, transgender children, and LGBTQ+ children are at greater risk.
In addition, the mental health costs of this abuse are astounding. The total lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States in 2015 was estimated to be at least $9.3 billion. The economic cost of this abuse only compounds over time.
In this Executive Order, we’re asking President Biden’s office to do the following:
- Invest in programs that prevent the initial perpetration of child sexual abuse and exploitation, including through technology-facilitated interactions, to help reduce the number of incidents. Resources and training should be provided to educate all children, youth, parents, and child-serving professionals on how to prevent, identify and respond to online and offline child sexual abuse and exploitation through programs that are survivor-centered and trauma-informed.
- Establish a senior leadership position in the White House to coordinate action at the federal level on all forms of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
- Mobilize financial resources in the upcoming budget for federal domestic and global agency programs that focus on prevention efforts and healing and justice for survivors, as well as improved data collection and research on the global and national prevalence of online and offline childhood sexual violence, as well as risk and protective factors particularly for children with disabilities, children from ethnic and racial minority backgrounds, children that identify as LGBTQI+, child runaways, and victims of child trafficking.
- Work with Congress to develop comprehensive national legislation to include policies, programs, and research to prevent all forms of sexual violence against children, protect and support healing for survivors, reduce the cost of sexual violence to society, and provide access to justice for victims.
- Improve support for child survivors of all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation by increasing investment in and the availability of comprehensive, victim-centered and trauma-informed assistance programs, including mental health treatment, counseling and legal services led by professionals specifically trained to support survivors of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation as part of larger efforts to break the life cycle of abuse and to aid in healing.
- Increase efforts to improve existing technology and develop new technology, including age verification, anti-grooming and child sexual abuse material detection tools, to better protect children online.
- Provide additional funding to increase the staffing, incentives, and training of law enforcement officers tasked with investigating online sexual exploitation and abuse of children cases, including capacity-building on the latest investigative techniques and tools and ensure funding is available to continue to build partnerships with other countries to jointly investigate cross-national cases and support opportunities for information sharing, training, and learning.
- Increase funding to support Homeland Security child exploitation investigative efforts at home and abroad to interdict child sexual abuse material offenders and to increase efforts to identify children seen in these materials who remain unidentified.
- Expand U.S. support for global programs to end all forms of sexual violence against children.
Read the full letter to President Biden here.
About the Keep Kids Safe Movement:
The Keep Kids Safe Movement is a powerful movement between organizations, survivors, and allies focused on ending sexual violence against children and adolescents, online and offline, in all its forms – child sexual abuse, incest, child sexual exploitation, rape, sexual violence in dating relationships, and sexual violence among peers. The movement is focused on inclusive, comprehensive, bold and transformative action from leaders including: prevention to protect this and every generation to come, healing for victims, survivors, and their families, and justice for victims and survivors and accountability for perpetrators and institutions who covered up the abuse. For more information, visit our website HERE
About the Ending Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Coalition:
The Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children (OSEAC) Coalition is a U.S. advocacy coalition that aims to improve U.S. government policies and programs to better prevent and address the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children and provide appropriate support to survivors. Officially formed in early 2022, the coalition is the result of a series of community discussions held in 2021 to build a unified movement amongst civil society to address this growing threat to the safety and wellbeing of children. Together we are working to galvanize political will and leadership to take action to ensure children are able to navigate online spaces safely. For more information, please visit our website HERE.