(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) joined Connecticut law enforcement and sexual assault victim advocates Monday in hailing passage of the Child Protection Act of 2012. The bipartisan legislation cracks down on child pornography and sexual abuse by strengthening law enforcement’s ability to protect victims and witnesses and apprehend perpetrators. Blumenthal was joined by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in cosponsoring the legislation earlier this year.
Blumenthal said, “New legal tools will help crack down on new vicious Internet channels for child pornography and predators who exploit existing legal gaps. The Child Protection Act confronts and combats one of the most despicable and dangerous crimes in America – trafficking child pornography and sexual abuse – by increasing penalties and strengthening safeguards for victims and witnesses who help prosecute predators. I am grateful for the strong bipartisan support that enabled Congress to protect children from child predators by passing this legislation, and I urge the President to sign this bill as soon as possible so that new resources can be mobilized immediately in this fight.”
Currently, the maximum prison term for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 18 years of age and younger is 10 years. The Child Protection Act of 2012 makes the maximum prison term 20 years for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 12 years and younger – thereby creating a new, stiffer penalty for the possession of child pornography depicting victims in this age category. In addition, current law authorizes courts to issue protective orders to restrain harassment of minor victims and witnesses upon the government attorney’s motion. The Child Protection Act of 2012 would authorize courts to issue these protective orders upon their own motion as well. This legislation would also make it easier for the U.S. Marshals Service to apprehend fugitive sex offenders by authorizing them to obtain administrative subpoenas when investigating these cases. Finally, this legislation renews the investment in training for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, which train law enforcement officials on how to effectively work on cases of child sexual abuse, protecting countless children across the country.
Laura Cordes, Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS) said, "Child pornography and exploitation are insidious crimes that victimize and re-victimize children every day. The Child Protection Act recognizes the importance of combating these crimes and keeping children safe in the process. CONNSACS applauds Senator Blumenthal's leadership and dedication to promoting this important bipartisan legislation."
Connecticut State Police Col. Danny Stebbins emphasized the need for interagency collaboration, stating, "It is important for Federal, state and local partners in law enforcement to constantly work together to protect our children from these predators."
The advent of the Internet spawned a resurgence in trafficking of child pornography. In fact, statistics paint an even grimmer picture:
- Internet child pornography is among one of the fastest growing crimes in America, increasing at an average of 150 percent per year.
- In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. Of all known child abuse domains, 58 percent are housed in the United States.
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed more than 51 million child pornography images and videos in the hopes of identifying the victims in them.
- The Justice Department estimates that one-third of the world’s pedophiles involved in organized pornography rings worldwide live in the United States. In a survey of identified offenders,
19 percent had images of children younger than 3 years old;
39 percent had images of children younger than 6 years old; and
83 percent had images of children younger than 12 years old.