Owens Fights Child Exploitation

WASHINGTON Representatives Burgess Owens (UT-04), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced the Child RESCUE Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen federal efforts to rescue U.S. children from sexual exploitation and abuse. 

“The explosion of child exploitation and abuse is a crisis that demands immediate action,” said Rep. Owens. “Capitalizing on the latest technology, predators have found new and horrifying ways to target our most vulnerable, and we can’t turn a blind eye to these abhorrent crimes. I’m proud to once again lead the Child RESCUE Act, a key tool in our fight against this evil, empowering local, state, and federal authorities to proactively tackle this epidemic head-on, protect our children, and bring these criminals to justice.”

“The safety and security of our children must be a top priority. Congress and the whole of the federal government must do more to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, help law enforcement investigate these crimes, and make sure state and local authorities are able to prosecute the criminals who engage in such despicable activities,” said Rep. Spanberger. “While local child protective services, law enforcement officers, and nonprofit organizations are working tirelessly to protect children and crack down on these crimes, these professionals alone are not equipped to contend with an epidemic of this scale. Our bipartisan legislation — which I am proud to reintroduce — would require the federal government to carry out a focused, coordinated strategy to aid in the rescue of children across the United States from abusive, neglectful, and traumatic situations.”

“Now more than ever in this digital age, legislators need to work to protect our children from sexual exploitation,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to lead the bipartisan Child Rescue Act alongside Rep. Spanberger, which will strengthen federal efforts to protect and rescue children from exploitation and abuse.”

“Today marks a significant step in our mission to safeguard children from exploitation. As an organization dedicated to ending this injustice, RAINN enthusiastically endorses the Child Rescue Act,” said Stefan Turkheimer, Vice President for Public Policy, RAINN. “This legislation takes proactive measures to identify and rescue children from the horrors of sexual exploitation and abuse, prioritizing the safety of all children.”

“Child sexual abuse is already horrific, and yet it is magnified when it spreads online,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO, National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Our country’s leaders must confront this scourge by finding solutions to stop the spread of CSAM, including addressing issues, such as instances when technology companies refuse to respond to law enforcement, and the use of VPNs and encryption for CSAM sharing, which the working group created by this bill would seek to analyze and guide how attorneys general respond.”

“The Child Rescue Act is a pivotal enhancement to our efforts in protecting children from exploitation and abuse. By establishing a national working group and focusing on both proactive strategies and necessary resources, prosecutors will be better equipped to handle these complex cases,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director, National Districts Attorneys Association. “This critical bill not only fortifies our legal framework but also bolsters our continued efforts to bring offenders to justice while safeguarding our most vulnerable victims.”

“Children do not have a vote, so it is up to adults to support laws that protect them,” said Shaun Dougherty, Board President, SNAP. “This is particularly true of sexually trafficked children and those depicted in child pornography, who may have no adult in their lives who will step up to intervene on their behalf.”

Background:

The Child RESCUE Act would require the U.S. Attorney General to establish a national working group — known as the U.S. Commission on Children in Imminent Danger — to study proactive policing strategies, and resource needs to rescue children in the United States from sexual exploitation and abuse online. This commission would bring together experts from the federal government — including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — and the private sector to create a nationwide strategy and identify how best to respond to a changing landscape and prevent child abuse across the country. 

Read the full legislative text here.

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