The Trump administration launched a safety pledge on Tuesday with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in order to fight against online predators and sex traffickers—both of which the non-profit says have surged since the coronavirus pandemic, according to Fox News.
A recent case where a man paid an 8-year-old girl with Roblox cash for nude videos revealed that a predator was hanging out in online chat rooms and soliciting nude videos of children. This is ideally the kind of thing this new initiative would stop.
It has been reported that Attorney General William Barr, White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump, and the NCMEC non-profit will be launching the "Safety Pledge Campaign"—an initiative that aims to combat child exploitation online. The initiative is intended to raise awareness and provide resources to aid parents, educators, and other caregivers in order to learn about the risks that children face online.
"With an increased use of social media and gaming platforms while at home, there are more opportunities than ever for abusers to exploit children online," Ivanka Trump said. "This administration is fighting to protect our children from online predators and traffickers at every turn."
The administration decided to make a move to address online child exploitation after NCMEC saw a "dramatic increase" in reports of "sexual exploitation with a potential increase in vulnerability of children."
The administration's renewed focus on online child exploitation comes after NCMEC witnessed "a dramatic increase" in reports of "sexual exploitation with a potential increase in vulnerability of children."
The non-profit reported that instances of online child exploitation had increased as much as 126 percent during the pandemic. And according to a recent NGO study, more than 50 percent of domestic minor sex trafficking survivors interviewed met their traffickers online, according to Fox News.
"While our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on child safety will continue to develop, we know more time online means more direct access to children, including those who intend to harm them," the White House and NCMEC said in a Tuesday statement.
"With a majority of children being educated remotely this fall and more children online and using devices and unfamiliar platforms for school lessons and social interactions, it is essential that we work together to help them stay safe."
Acting DHS Secretary Wolf noted that Department of Homeland Security has hired officials to work and protect and rescue children from criminals who seek to harm or exploit them, "including cyber criminals."
"COVID-19 has driven children of all ages online, seeking connection and community," Wolf said. "Sadly, in too many cases, this has also led to the growth of online sexual exploitation of children of all ages."
"Never has online safety of our nation's youth been more important than it is right now," he continued.
The Safety Pledge is reported to be working on a website, where "fun activities and conversation starters" will be available to help parents, teachers, and caregivers show children "how to navigate the online world."
Fox News reported that "the website will also include 'the Safety Pledge,' which invites participants to publicly commit to learning more about online safety. Those who participate, according to a White House official, are encouraged to share the pledge with at least two others that they know."