Project Safe Childhood pushes to stop child sexual assault
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -
The U.S Attorney's Office has joined forces with the Mercy Child Advocacy Center. Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative that was started in 2006.
The project hopes to fight child sexual exploitation. Project Safe Childhood was originally started to stop online child exploitation, but it now covers all federal child sexual exploitation offenses. Internet exploitation of children is a crime that's constantly changing and evolving with the explosion of social media.
"We're talking about Facebook. We're talking about Snapchat, Instagram. We're talking about Omegle and other online applications or online websites that provide venues where children go on to communicate with their peers, but also those are the areas where they're exploited as well" says Tim Duax.
The Mercy Child Advocacy Center sees children ages 0-18 and also developmentally delayed adults. These individuals have been referred from DHS or law enforcement because of emotional or physical abuse. The center gives these individuals a place they can come and be heard in a nonjudgmental way.
"You know when you're talking about kids, you're talking about a vulnerable population. They aren't always thinking that people that they may be communicating with online could potentially be someone who's dangerous" says Sherrie Schweder.
Officials say Project Safe Childhood has been very successful in the past 10 years.
In 2015, more than 54,000 reports of child sexual abuse were investigated nationwide through the program leading to 8,500 arrests.