New RAINN-Supported Legislation Seeks to Help Rescue Children from Harm

A bipartisan group of members of Congress, led by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Ben Cline (R-VA), has introduced the Child RESCUE Act, which will help ensure that children experiencing abuse can be identified and removed from harm as soon as possible.

“Child exploitation crimes have exploded globally, overwhelming law enforcement’s ability to identify and rescue children who are in harm's way,” says Camille Cooper, vice president of public policy, explaining RAINN’s support for the bill.

According to the New York Times, 45 million images and videos of child sexual abuse were detected online last year alone. The most widely traded series of images and videos depict acts of sexual abuse and are produced by someone related to the child or within the child’s circle of trust.

“The Child Rescue Act (H.R. 7919) will require the U.S. Department of Justice to prioritize leads that help identify ‘dual offenders,’ who are suspects that both sexually abuse children and commit online crimes against children,” said Cooper.

To create a proactive strategy to identify dual offenders and remove kids from harm, the Child RESCUE Act would establish a commission that brings together subject matter experts from the FBI, Department of Justice, RAINN, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In addition to the Child RESCUE Act, RAINN’s public policy team is working with lawmakers on legislation to enhance the ability of the specially-trained law enforcement officers who exclusively work on child exploitation cases, to better collaborate with U.S. Attorneys’ offices.

To respond to the current shortage of federal prosecutors who have training in child exploitation cases, the bill will increase resources, training, and collaboration of specialized investigative task forces and federal prosecutors across the country.

“In addition to working to combat online crimes, RAINN is working to create ways that children would be able to directly report abuse or get the support they need — particularly when the abuse is occurring at home,” said Cooper. “As the COVID-19 pandemic persists and children continue to be home more than usual, helping kids in these situations is critical.”

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