Four Representatives & ECPAT-USA Introduce Guide To Help Members Of Congress Discuss Child Trafficking With Constituents

Four members of the House, Chris Smith (R-NJ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Pete Olson (R-TX), joined ECPAT-USA, the leading organization fighting sex trafficking of children, in introducing a guide to help members of Congress organize a discussion with constituents when there is a trafficking case in their districts on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Capitol Visitor Center, Room 268, U.S. Capitol.

The Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide is available on ECPAT-USA’s website at this link.

“Americans are frequently surprised and alarmed to hear that child sex trafficking cases might occur right in their own backyards. Members of Congress can play an important role by using the opportunity to educate the public about the issue, how to respond and what government is doing to protect children,” said Carol Smolenski, ECPAT-USA Executive Director.

“ECPAT has been at the forefront of alerting communities and those on the frontlines – including police, health care workers, and people in the transportation and lodging industries – on how to identify predators and help victims in order to aggressively combat the scourge of human trafficking,” said Rep. Chris Smith, author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act and four other trafficking bills enacted into law. “ECPAT’s Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide will go a long way toward helping educate the public – including members of Congress – about how to identify and stop sex trafficking.”

“Protecting our young people is our national and moral responsibility,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. “ECPAT-USA’s guide is absolutely vital to spreading awareness and helping our communities confront and understand the prevalence of child sex trafficking that is perpetrated in our cities, suburbs, and rural communities. While human trafficking spans all demographics, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness and a member of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, I am painfully aware that children from high-risk backgrounds are more vulnerable to victimization, exploitation, and human trafficking. This is why today, Reps. Buchanan, Wasserman Shultz, and Steube are joining me in introducing the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2019, to introduce critical trafficking and exploitation prevention training into our highest-need school communities. I’m grateful for ECPAT-USA’s endorsement and look forward to continuing to work with this leading organization to combine awareness with prevention efforts to spare young people from the horrors of this modern-day form of slavery.”

“Human trafficking is a crisis that occurs each day in our very own communities,” said Congressman Michael McCaul. “In Texas alone, 300,000 people are entrapped in this nightmare. As a country, we need to wake up to the fact that this is a crisis and actively wipe out this modern day form of slavery. I commend ECPAT for all the excellent work they have done, and continue to do, in our communities to raise awareness of human trafficking in the U.S. I will continue to work with law enforcement and advocacy groups such as ECPAT, and others.”

“Stopping human trafficking is an important issue that hits close to home — just last month, a police sting in my district led to the arrest of dozens of human traffickers,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “I’ve been working closely with local elected officials for years to try to end this brutal form of modern day slavery. Organizations like ECPAT and their Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide are an important part of the solution. As Co-Chair of the Victim’s Rights Caucus in Congress and with the exceptional work of law enforcement, local advocates and volunteers, we must end this evil once and for all.”

“I want to thank all our partners, Reps. Alcee Hastings, Mike McCaul and Pete Olson for their continued partnership with ECPAT-USA in ending child exploitation and trafficking. Their dedication to protecting children from this heinous crime is admirable and we are grateful to have their voices in Congress. I also want to thank Congressman Chris Smith, a long-time leader whose name is synonymous with anti-trafficking in the U.S. Congressman Smith was the Republican House sponsor for the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act, signed into law in 2000. It is the centerpiece for all of the anti-trafficking work in the United States that has occurred since then. He has been absolutely steadfast in ensuring that the issue stays front and center in both national and international policy discussions,” Smolenski said.

The resources in this guide were developed by ECPAT-USA for elected officials to take the lead in their districts in helping community members confront and understand the existence of sex trafficking in their midst. It is expected that the guide will be useful after a case of sex trafficking has been identified in the district. Americans are frequently surprised and alarmed to hear that these trafficking cases might occur right in their own backyards and are not aware of all the forms that human trafficking can take, specifically sex trafficking. It is not a crime that only happens to people in other countries, it happens frequently here in the U.S.

The resource guide will help Members of Congress to plan a community meeting with suggestions for who to invite, an agenda, talking points, a sample press release, and background information about the topic.

The launch of the Guide was made possible through the support of the following sponsors: The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), UBER, MGM Resorts International, American Airlines, Marriott International, Hilton, and Guidepost Solutions. Marriott International is the lunch sponsor.


ECPAT-USA Co-Sponsors Special Performance Of OSCAR At The Crown

A few weeks ago, ECPAT-USA co-sponsored our sister trafficking organization, Saving Jane’s big, end-of-summer cultural bash for under-served youth in NYC. After months of working with producers, cast and crew, we helped to present a special free performance of the interactive, acclaimed musical OSCAR at The Crown for homeless kids, survivors of human trafficking, LGBTQ youth, immigrant youth, young people in recovery, and other under-served populations of young people in NYC.  The immersive musical includes singing, dancing, and moving stage platforms – all happening inches from the crowd. Over 25 youth organizations, bringing over 100 at-risk young people attended the show! 

OSCAR at The Crown is a musical about a gang of cultural outcasts who have holed up at the Crown, an off-the-grid nightclub, in order to escape a dystopia that targets anyone who is "different." To entertain themselves, they put on pageants about the rise and fall of Oscar Wilde, a gay man put on trial for indecency. Staged in a functioning dance club, the 3 Dollar Bill, there is non-stop music, movement and light shows, creating a thrilling musical party experience from start to finish. The play takes on many twists and turns, revealing a very important message that resonated deeply with many of the youths in attendance.  No matter how marginalized you are by your culture, no matter how dark your circumstances are, no matter the pain you’ve had to endure, there is always hope for a life of authenticity, flourishing and joy – and it all starts with that first, scary step toward finding that new light. This is an especially important message for survivors of trafficking. 

Among people who were sexually abused during childhood, many often engage in abusive relationships as adults. They might repeatedly find themselves in adult relationships where they are victimized, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually. Some may even become abusive themselves.  Children are often coerced by an adult they have trusted. This can lead victims to distrust therapists, social workers, and other support systems who try to aid after their recovery. 

Feelings of fear, irritability, abandonment, and mistrust can arise. It is crucial to end the cycle of abuse. We should always advocate fully and holistically for youth, both before potential harm and after abuse has occurred to guide young people toward finding their happiness and realizing that they are worthy of genuine love and trust, free from pain.

Many youths left the show with heartfelt tears of joy in their eyes, explaining how beautiful the messages were about welcoming happiness in the face of adversity. The performance was followed by a pizza party. During the pizza party, Saving Jane's Thomas Estler moderated a Q & A that culminated in a radiant rapport between the cast and the young audience, and everyone left the experience with a heightened sense of community and hope. The young people expressed their gratitude for the performance, as well as their own interest in the arts inspired by such a wonderful production. This is especially influential as art can often be helpful medium for those who have endured distress. 

A special thank you to the cast, crew, and producers of OSCAR at the Crown for donating the special performance for one of the most vulnerable populations and for Saving Jane for including ECPAT-USA in such a powerful event. 

Photo courtesy of OSCAR @ the Crown

September Business Events Champion - Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group

Each month, ECPAT-USA will be highlighting a Business Events Champion who, in support of our 20BY20 campaign, has pledged to join with us in ending child sexual exploitation and trafficking through educating and empowering business events professionals.

Carina_August 2017_imex466print (2).jpg

Carina Bauer is the CEO of the IMEX Group, one of the foremost organizations connecting the global meetings industry. Recognized around the world for her exceptional leadership in business events, she serves as a Mentor Fast Forward 15 for women in hospitality and events, was the winner of the Smart Women in Meetings Award in both 2018 and 2019, and named as one of Northstar’s 25 Most Influential People in the Incentive Industry. As one of the founding champions of the 20BY20 campaign, ECPAT-USA was interested in speaking with Carina about her thoughts on why being involved with this initiative was so important. 

With so many important causes where the business events industry can make a difference, what about this issue speaks to you, personally?

I think this is one of those defining moments when we can either turn away and rationalize “I’m too busy” or “I don’t see how I can make a difference here” OR we can step up and speak up. As a mother and the leader of a British company that aims to lead by example, I’m happy to lend my support. IMEX is in a unique position. We operate in a truly global marketplace. We have a voice. We have a global audience that’s willing to listen, and to learn. This is the time to put that advantage to good use.

 Why did IMEX choose to be a Champion of the ECPAT-USA 20BY20 initiative? 

The global business events industry, as a sector that brings together people from all over the world, has a responsibility to drive positive social transformation and ECPAT-USA 20BY20 helps to deliver this. Like many of the big societal challenges of our times, this isn’t about one person, one government or even one company taking a stand but about recognizing and embracing our collective accountability and knowing that lasting change demands lasting and consistent collaboration.  

 What is IMEX doing to promote your support of 20BY20?  

Other than lending our voice online and through our marketing and PR efforts,  we have a couple of ideas bubbling away but we’ll consolidate these once we’re on the other side of our current focus – IMEX America, which opens next week!

What would you say to event organizers to encourage them to take this training?

Don’t hesitate. Put yourself, your team and your business on the front foot now.

About 20BY20: 20BY20 is an industry-wide awareness campaign to educate 20,000 business events professionals to identify and respond to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Addressing the issue of human trafficking as well as the intersections between human trafficking and the event and travel industry, ECPAT-USA’s 25-minute online course, Preventing & Responding To Human Trafficking And The Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of Children teaches BE leaders how to become BE Protectors. This course provides (CE) credit for the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential.

To learn more or get involved in the campaign click here.



Lori L. Cohen To Take the Helm at ECPAT-USA

Lori L. Cohen

Lori L. Cohen

ECPAT-USA, the preeminent policy organization working to protect children in the United States from commercial sexual exploitation, is delighted to announce the selection of its new Executive Director, Lori L. Cohen.  She will assume her new position on November 4, 2019.

Ms. Cohen brings a wealth of experience to ECPAT-USA’s work to end human trafficking.  Prior to joining ECPAT-USA, she created and directed the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families, Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services.  Her team garnered widespread recognition, assisting more than 2000 adult and child victims survivors of human trafficking and other forms of gender-based abuse. 

A graduate of Yale Law School, Ms. Cohen has drawn upon her experience representing victims to engage in anti-trafficking policy advocacy on federal, state and local levels.  She has conducted trainings in the US and abroad for audiences as diverse as child welfare advocates, attorneys, judges, bankers, law enforcement, medical practitioners, Mexican congressional representatives, inmates at a state women’s correctional facility, and Russian LGBTQ activists.

“We were daunted by the task of finding an individual who could build on the stupendous work for more than twenty-five years of our current Director, Carol  Smolenski. Carol and ECPAT have created awareness of the prevalence of the commercial exploitation of American children and through our advocacy and programs have been the recognized leader in advocating for the protection of children’s rights against this exploitation. Lori is the ideal individual to strengthen and expand this work!” said Jackie Shapiro, Chair of the Board of ECPAT-USA and Co-Chair of the ED Search Committee.

“It is a tremendous privilege to succeed Carol Smolenski in her pioneering work at ECPAT-USA,” noted Ms. Cohen.  “In the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, ECPAT’s mission educating the public about the risks facing our children from sex buyers is more urgent than ever.  As Executive Director for ECPAT-USA, I am eager to advocate for policies ensuring that, one day, no child will ever again be bought or sold for sex.”

#NoFilter: Social Media, Sex, and the Untouchable

In the #NoFilter series, private sector engagement interns Ashley Solle and Nicole Phocas discuss youth, social media, and society in the context of the recent Jeffrey Epstein case.

The recent death of Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on child sex trafficking and child pornography* charges, has pushed conversations on the link between power and child sexual exploitation in the United States out of the shadows, at least for a minute. 

This is far from the first case in recent history of a wealthy, powerful man abusing his standing to manipulate and coerce children to participate in sexual acts; Robert Kraft, Terry Richardson, Larry Nassar, and R Kelly are just some of the other names that come to mind. These men abused their positions and targeted children -- usually teenage girls -- from vulnerable populations. They exploited the vulnerable child’s weakened emotional state and took advantage of problematic societal norms surrounding the over-sexualization of youth. Of course the blame lies with the abusers, but these cultural standards we’ve created have taken on a new life with social media, contributing to the ease with which traffickers can recruit victims. The problem involves youth of all genders, but since Jeffrey Epstein abused girls and since most of what we’re criticizing is based in sexist and patriarchal norms, we’ve chosen to take a female-centric approach. Besides, as women ourselves -- from the first generation to grow up with social media, no less -- we can’t help but call out how platforms like Instagram encourage certain unattainable ideals for young girls in particular. 

Like anything, social media can be a wonderful tool to access information but it also has unintended consequences. The popularity of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat has paved the way for body positive and sex positive social movements which promote a healthy snapshot of what a relationship should look like. However, posts on these platforms tend to only show the beautiful and glamorous side of life. This can be an especially damaging thing for a teenage girl in a vulnerable position, whether it’s an unstable family life, history of abuse, poverty, or lack of opportunities. When she sees the perceived happiness of their favorite Instagram influencer or celebrity, she is willing to take steps to get to this lifestyle of private jets, yachts, expensive dinners, and celebrity. When a wealthy, powerful, charismatic man like Jeffrey Epstein or R. Kelly pays attention to her, says he loves her, and offers her these things, how could she say no? Why would she want to? 

Sex-positive images posted on social media by teenagers are not an excuse to sexualize them without their consent. By ignoring the problem, we are telling these children that their bodies are not their own.

The impunity that society gives wealthy and powerful men for sexual exploitation goes way beyond the individual. Our culture has an enormous problem with the over-sexualization of teens. Just to be clear, there is a massive difference between sex positivity and sexualization. Sex positivity encourages and promotes the expression of sexuality as a healthy and natural occurance when placed in the context of consent and autonomy. Sexualization is related to assigning sexuality to someone or something else, regardless of the subject’s knowledge or consent. For example, if a teen girl chooses to embrace her sexuality and post a photo on Instagram in a bikini, she has every right to do that. Regardless of her intent, no one should be sexualizing the image without her explicit consent. By contacting the girl who posted the photo, under the assumption that because she posted the photo she automatically wants sex, the viewer is over-sexualizing that person. We’ve both had instances of men, both older and our own age, harassing us on social media for innocent photos we posted, even when we were underage. There has been an issue with sexualizing teenage girls for ages: “sexy schoolgirl culture,” the young age that lingerie models begin high profile careers, and countdowns for underage female actresses turning eighteen. Because of the anonymous nature of social media, this sort of behavior is becoming more normalized. Sex-positive images posted on social media by teenagers are not an excuse to sexualize them without their consent. By ignoring the problem, we are telling these children that their bodies are not their own. 

The oversexualization of teens is not just happening online, however. These norms and ideals perpetuated by social media are manifesting into real, physical transactions between teenagers and older adults. Our next blog will discuss this more, but one thing is certainly becoming a trend at this point: older men who use their power and wealth as an excuse to rape and traffic children face little consequence, and their friends are often involved. While we can’t entirely blame society for the actions of child predators, the twisted promotion of teenagers as an oversexualized ideal is certainly not helping change the narrative.

Wealthy, powerful men like Epstein coerce and exploit vulnerable youth by promising a lifestyle they see as unattainable. Cultural standards that validate exploitative behavior have existed for decades, but with progress comes new ways to trick, coerce, or force children into dangerous situations. Social media is a platform that normalizes these standards even further, but we can’t blame the platform for the culture. Change comes by recognizing that we live in a country where justice favors powerful men over vulnerable children and by reminding these men that they are not untouchable. 

*A note on language: While the legal term related to his charge is child pornography, ECPAT-USA urges society to move away from the term child pornography because it equates child sexual abuse to a legal industry and reduces the severity of the crime. Instead, we advocate for the use of the term child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Review our Terminology Guidelines here.

READ MORE:

#NoFilter: Media Coverage of the Epstein Case 

ECPAT-USA Statement on Jeffrey Epstein’s Death

Grooming: Is R Kelly Using the Same Tactics as Human Traffickers to Control His Victims? 

ECPAT-USA Report on Child Sexual Abuse Material

ECPAT Terminology Guidelines

As Child Sex Abuse Cases Fill the News, Don’t Be A Bystander

Coming Soon - #NoFilter: Seeking Innocence in an Online Dating Culture



Human Trafficking 101: What is the Difference Between Labor and Sex Trafficking?

What is Human Trafficking?

The US Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act defines trafficking as the “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar global criminal industry exploiting all genders, ages, classes, and nationalities. It is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and though many believe it only occurs outside the US, every state has been an origin, transfer, or destination point. While many forms of human exploitation fall under the human trafficking definition, sexual and labor trafficking are the two most commonly known.

What is Sex Trafficking?

According to the US Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, sex trafficking is the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” Additionally, children under 18 involved in commercial sex are automatically victims of child sex trafficking under US law.  There are an estimated 4.8 million people sexually exploited worldwide according to the International Labor Organization, and within the US, the National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded 34,700 sex trafficking reports from 2007 to 2017. Since sex trafficking is identifiable along highways and in public areas, it is the most reported form of trafficking.

Sex trafficking hubs include:

  • Hotels & Motels

  • Escort services

  • Strip clubs

  • Massage businesses

  • Truck stops

  • Residential brothels

  • Online advertisements

What is Labor Trafficking?

Labor trafficking is transporting victims by coercion, threat, or fraud to perform labor services. The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported over 7,800 labor trafficking cases within the US since 2007. Labor trafficking is less visible and severely under-reported when compared to sex trafficking, and affects more foreign victims than sex trafficking.  According to the The US Department of Labor forced and child labor produced 148 goods from 75 countries. Motivated by greed and profit, labor trafficking capitalizes on occupations where vulnerable workers such as immigrants, work under threat and inhumane conditions.

Industries involved:

  • Agriculture

  • Horticulture

  • Fishing

  • Construction

  • Mineral

  • Textiles

  • Food service

  • Domestic work

  • Entertainment

  • Health & Beauty

Human trafficking is a local and global problem requiring immediate response, and despite awareness, victim services, and growing database demonstrating the problem, the crisis persists, and it is difficult to know exactly how many fall victim. Traffickers ensnare women and men, young and old, from every background into forced servitude, enduring all manner of psychological, emotional, and physical abuse anywhere from a few days to years. It may seem like a problem too expansive for any individual to solve, but you can do your part to join the fight  against trafficking.

How You Can Help:

  • Always report incidents of suspected trafficking to law enforcement or by contacting the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888

  • Write to your elected officials to support local, state and federal human trafficking legislation.·  

  • Shop consciously by learning where your products are made and the labor practices there.

  • Donate to and support ECPAT-USA and other organizations fighting to end trafficking.

  • Inform yourself by keeping up with ECPAT-USA’s events and latest news

#NoFilter: Media Coverage of the Epstein Case

In the #NoFilter series, private sector engagement interns Ashley Solle and Nicole Phocas discuss youth, social media, and society in the context of the recent Jeffrey Epstein indictment.

There are literally millions of images and videos depicting child sexual abuse on the internet right now, and findings of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) are growing exponentially. Between 2015-2018, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's (NCMEC) CyberTipline noted a 4 fold increase in CSAM reports, from 4.4 million to 18.2 million. In the last few years, we have heard countless stories about wealthy, well-connected men abusing their power to exploit children. These men include household names like R Kelly, Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky, Kevin Spacey, Jared Fogle, Harvey Weinstein, Jimmy Savile, Woody Allen, Larry Nassar, and countless religious leaders. The recent MeToo Movement has exposed the systemic sexual harassment and abuse of women and children which has been going on for centuries. In past blog posts, we have gone into depth on the sexualization of youth in our culture. And then we have Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire businessman who sexually exploited, trafficked, and raped children for decades without consequences. He has been given a pass by the media, who have portrayed a diluted version of the events that played out. Even now, after his apparent suicide, the media are focusing more on promoting conspiracy theories than on getting justice for the children he abused. 

Mainstream media outlets such as Rolling Stone, Boston Globe, and Forbes, to name a few, use a variation of the phrase “nude photos of underage girls” in reference to child sexual abuse material found in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. The words “nude photos” and “children” should not exist in the same sentence. Nude photos of children are not art and they are not okay. They should be portrayed as what they are: illegal child abuse imagery. One article from the New York Post, which we honestly thought came from the Onion when we first opened it, even used the phrase “kiddie porn.” Need we say more?

Beyond more extreme phrases like “kiddie porn”, even the most reputable news sources still have a long way to go in terms of highlighting the severity of the sexual exploitation of children. A commonly used term is child pornography; however, we prefer the term child sexual abuse material (CSAM) because it both demonstrates the severity of the problem and ensures that child abuse is not equated with the legal pornography industry. Refer to our terminology guidelines for more information on phrasing. 

From the New York Times to New York Magazine, the media regularly use the term “sex with underage women” in reference to the Epstein case and many cases like his. These are not underage women, they are children, and for someone Epstein’s age, this is not sex. It is either rape or trafficking. On that same note, why is it that we call adult women “girls” when we are trying to silence them, but call young girls “women” when it is convenient to the patriarchal narrative surrounding sex? These are children. This is abuse. 

The media has a duty to bring light to injustices. By not emphasizing what happened to the child, but rather diminishing it to a neutral, problematic, or clinical phrase, they are silencing the victim’s story and diminishing the severity of the abuse. The media is expected to sensationalize and dramatize events and crimes, but when they have the opportunity to talk about a case that is already dramatic, dark, and horrifying without any exaggeration, they don’t. Call it like it is: rape, children, exploitation, international child sex trafficking ring, child sexual abuse material. This story does not end here. Do your job and tell it right. 


Children Abused in Sex Images on the Internet Mostly Aged 11 or Younger New Study Finds

ECPAT-USA Report “We Need to Do Better” based on news reports from 48 states 

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to read the full report.

More than half of children sexually abused in the millions of videos and photos available on the Internet are age 11 or younger, including 17 percent age 4 or younger, according to “We Need to Do Better”, a study released today by ECPAT-USA, the country’s leader in fighting child sex trafficking. The study is based on information from 538 news reports of crimes from 48 of the 50 U.S. states over a three-month period. Offenders, those creating, possessing and disseminating the material, are often in the child’s circle of trust: 56% were connected to schools or other youth work or a religious institution.  

“Despite the astounding growth in child sexual abuse material crimes over the past twenty years, the general public has little understanding about what it means, how vast the problem is, and how violently the children are abused in order to produce the imagery depicted in photographs and recordings of child sexual abuse,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “We don’t use the word ‘pornography’ because the accurate description is images of sexual assault on children. Sometimes this assault is very violent, and some victims are as young as infants.”

The study found out of the 538 news reports:

  • 281 (52%) reported age-related information on the victim. 

    • 17.4% of victims were age 4 or younger. 

    • 36.7% of victims were age 9 or younger. 

    • 58.0% of victims were age 11 or younger. 

    • 72.6% of victims were age 13 or younger.

  • 133 (24.7%) reported the gender of the victim.

    • 72.9% of victims were female. 

    • 27.1% of victims were male.

  • 114 (21.2%) reported the profession of the offender.

    •  43.0% of cases involved an offender who was a teacher, school employee, youth worker, coach, or youth mentor. 

    • 19.3% of cases involved an offender who was in law enforcement or the armed forces, i.e., police sergeant, officer, state trooper, deputy, detective, public safety dispatcher, or a member of the army, air force, navy or coast guard. 

    • 13.2% of cases involved an offender who was a church worker, including priests and pastors. 

    • 7.0% of cases involved an offender who was a medical professional, i.e., doctor, surgeon, pediatrician, dentist, EMS worker, and health worker

  • All of the cases disclosed the gender of the offenders. 

    • 97% (521 cases) involved a male offender. 

    • 3% (17 cases) involved a female offender.

  • All of the news articles disclosed the age of the offenders. 

    • In 3% of cases, the offender was under the age of 21. 

    • In 61% of cases, the offender was between the ages of 21 and 44. 

    • In 30% of cases, the offender was between 45 and 64 years of age. 

    • In 6% of cases, the offender was over the age of 65.

The data on the 538 cases was gathered by using Google Alerts to find media reports in the United States from October to December of 2015. They include stories written at the time of arrest or, in some cases, at the time of trial or sentencing of a perpetrator.

In recent years the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material has become much more widespread, with younger children being depicted. The invention of digital technology and the Internet have completely changed the playing field for the crime, making it easy for offenders to create, conceal and spread this material.

The ECPAT-USA report also summarizes the findings of other organizations:

  • Victims are getting younger. According to the USDoJ, the ages of victims depicted in child abuse imagery have significantly decreased. In 2014, 7% of victims were infants. According to the We Protect Global Alliance, this increase in pre-verbal children in recent years has been due to a deliberate effort to involve children who cannot self-report their abuse or describe what happened.

  • Images are more violent than ever: Reports by other organizations describe the increasing violence shown in the images. A report by ECPAT International and Interpol in 2018 found that more than 60% of victims were prepubescent and that the younger the child that was depicted, the more severe was the abuse.

  • There’s more than ever: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC’s) CyberTipline received over 10.2 million reports of child sex abuse materials in 2017, a stark increase from the 1.1 million it received in 2014. And then it almost doubled in one year, reaching 18.4 million reports in 2018.

  • Videos are traded, giving more people the incentive to create them. For the most part, transactions appear to be non-commercial. In 2014, 91% of videos analyzed or processed by the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) were “shared or traded among like-minded criminal individuals at no cost.” Thus, “In order to have the requisite ‘new’ images needed to barter for images in return, a defendant may decide to produce images of his own abuse of a child.”

“This report draws attention to the tremendous growth in the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse material,” Smolenski said. “Because it is illegal to own even a single child sexual abuse image, and many people have never seen the images or heard about the issue, it is difficult for the public to grasp the nature and horror of the crime and the extreme abuse that is depicted. But it is important for there to be public knowledge about the problem if we are to create better policies and practices to protect children.”

The report includes recommendations for all segments of society including: 

The public:

  • Write to your legislator to tell him or her that you are concerned about this new growth of child sexual abuse materials and ask for greater regulation of tech companies.

Policy makers:

  • Federal and state sex offender laws should be strengthened and standardized to keep offenders from falling through the cracks.

  • A federal commission should be appointed to investigate and develop recommendations for how to make the Internet a safe place for children.

The private sector:

  • Robust background screening policies should be in place for anyone who works with children, including those who work as online moderators for tech companies.

  • All computer repair companies and technicians should receive awareness training about how to respond when this material is identified on a computer.

Schools: 

  • Education for parents, educators and youth about online safety should be implemented in every school across the country.

Religious institutions: 

  • Robust background checks should be in place for every person who works at a faith-based institution.

  • Mechanisms should be in place for children to safely report incidents of abuse to a safe and trusted adult.

The media: 

  • Report on the vast scale of child sexual abuse materials and provide details.  

  • Hold institutions responsible for their response or lack of one.

Although the term child pornography is used commonly in official documents and media, ECPAT-USA prefers the term child sexual abuse material. The word pornography refers to material with adult sexual content that in many cases is made and distributed legally, involving individuals who are legally old enough to provide sexual consent. It is ECPAT-USA’s position that the term child pornography does not adequately convey the horror and violence of sexual crimes against children.


Don't Let Epstein's Enablers & Associates Escape, ECPAT-USA Says

Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested on charges of sex trafficking in July, was found dead by suspected suicide Saturday morning. The indictment in his case alleged that from 2002-2005, Epstein sexually exploited minors, some as young as 14 in Manhattan and Palm Springs.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s death should not be the end of the story. We must also bring to justice his enablers and those who joined him in abusing young girls,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA, the country’s leader in fighting child sex trafficking. “By all accounts, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of young girls involved and also other men involved in sexually exploiting them. There were many people who aided or enabled Epstein, including in the criminal justice system. There can be no justice and no end to the Epstein case until everyone involved is held to account. There were also many people who saw what was going on and were suspicious, but said nothing. This case makes it clear why it’s essential to speak out to save children.”