April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect.

The Seattle Police Department is the lead agency for the Washington State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The task force is made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working to identify, arrest and convict those individuals who victimize children by way of the Internet.

The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program, created in 1998 to investigate cases of child sexual exploitation, has become a nationwide partnership of law enforcement agencies with the mission of protecting children online.

Currently there are 61 ICAC Task Forces located across the United States representing over 2,000 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. Since its inception, the ICAC Task Force program has investigated over 280,000 complaints of alleged child sexual exploitation and arrested almost 30,000 suspects.

In 2011, the Northwest Regional ICAC Task Force investigated approximately 400 documented complaints. In addition to the total documented complaints, over 1,300 cyber tip line reports were also received from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Of the cases investigated, 160 were pro-active investigations initiated by law enforcement, resulting in 39 arrests.

The combined educational outreach efforts of the Northwest Regional ICAC Task Force produced 255 online victimization prevention classes, resulting in over 34,000 parents, teachers, and community members receiving training on keeping children safe while using the Internet.

The Northwest Regional ICAC Task Forces continues to look for ways that law enforcement, local business and service providers (i.e. healthcare providers, faith based programs or social service providers) can work together to provide an awareness of the issues and challenges that existing and emerging technologies can pose in the lives of youth. The regional task force strives to continue providing public outreach in the form of community education efforts on the topic of internet/cyber safety throughout Washington State.

One of the primary goals of each national ICAC Task Force involves reaching out to other agencies in their respective parts of the country to help them establish an internet presence and to build capacity and expertise. In so doing, they create an even larger network of law enforcement agencies capable of dealing with online threats and exploitation.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) interacts regularly with ICAC offices, providing assistance during investigations where the suspect has solicited young victims from throughout the United States and other countries.

The partnership between NCMEC and all ICAC Task Forces nationwide is essential to protecting society’s most innocent victims, children.

The ICAC Task Force Program is an important partnership that focuses its efforts on protecting children on-line and holding offenders accountable.

The ICAC Task Force investigators are committed to working tirelessly to strengthen police relationships and promoting awareness and participation in order to produce positive results that help make the Internet a safer place for America’s children.

Anyone having information regarding online sexual exploitation of children should report this information to NCMEC via a “Cyber Tip” at www.cybertipline.com 

For more information on ICAC Task Forces see www.icactaskforce.org 

For more information on NCMEC visit www.missingkids.com 

For more information on the Seattle Police ICAC unit go to http://seattle.gov/police/units/investigations/ICAC.htm