August 1, 2016
Donald Trump Pledges To Protect Children From Sexual Exploitation Online
Vows Aggressive Enforcement of Existing Federal Laws
Washington, D.C.-Donna Rice Hughes, CEO/President of Enough Is Enough®® (EIE), whose mission is making the Internet safer for children and families, is very encouraged with the response to The Children's Internet Safety Presidential Pledge, developed by Enough Is Enough®. The Pledge was sent to each of the Presidential Candidates,calling upon them, if elected President to make a pledge to defend the innocence and dignity of America's children by enforcing the existing federal laws and advancing public policies designed to 1) prevent the sexual exploitation of children online and 2) to make the Internet safer for all. EIE is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse or oppose candidates for office. Mr. Trump's campaign promptly returned the signed Pledge. Secretary Hillary Clinton's campaign declined to sign the Pledge citing the campaign's policy against signing pledges, stating that they did however, support the Pledge's goals. Governor Gary Johnson's campaign has not yet responded.
"Mr. Trump's leadership and commitment to uphold the rule of law is demonstrated by his signing of the Children's Internet Safety Presidential Pledge," said Mrs. Hughes, a leading Internet safety pioneer, author of "Kids Online", and producer and host of the Emmy-winning Internet Safety 101SM TV series, in a personal statement as a concerned citizen, not in her capacity as the CEO/President of EIE: "Making the Internet safer for children and families is a critical step in making America safe again. The Clinton campaign's support of the Pledge's goals is also a step in the right direction. This is a bi-partisan unifying issue in which we can all check our differences at the door for the sake of the children. I remain optimistic that Secretary Clinton will reconsider signing this important pledge and that Gov. Johnson will do the same."
Mrs. Hughes, who also served on the bi-partisan Child Online Protection Commission, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force of the State Attorneys General of the United States, and who has testified numerous times before Congress regarding protecting children online, went on to say: "Governments can't parent and parents can't enforce the law. Parents alone cannot prevent Internet crimes against their children. Government must also do its part and enforce all the laws on the books, not just some of them! Over the last two decades America's children have paid an unnecessarily steep price for the lax enforcement of federal obscenity laws. Obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment, and the failure to enforce the law is harming children across the nation and around the world. Strong leadership to protect vulnerable children from unscrupulous Internet pornographers, predators and traffickers must begin at the top.
"Preventing the sexual exploitation of youth online requires a multi-faceted holistic strategy with a shared responsibility between the public, industry, and government. The need for aggressive enforcement of existing laws and adequate funding for Law Enforcement to do the job is long overdue. For nearly two decades, bi-partisan government commissions, task forces, Internet safety groups, and researchers, who have recognized the significant risks associated with unfettered Internet access by youth, and have called upon the government and law enforcement to take aggressive action."
The Pledge's goals include a commitment to appoint an Attorney General, who will make the vigorous prosecution of the federal obscenity, child pornography, sexual predation, child trafficking laws and the Children's Internet Protection Act a top priority. The Pledge also includes provisions for the necessary resources and tools to prosecute such crimes and calls for the establishment of public-private partnerships to step up voluntary efforts to reduce and prevent Internet crimes against children. Finally, the Pledge asks for consideration to appoint a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography and the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital age.
Last Spring, the Utah legislature passed a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis, which leads to the "hyper-sexualization of teens" and an "increase in the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, and child pornography." The Utah resolution signals an important shift in how a growing body of scientific data is influencing policy. To date, scientific data associates Internet pornography with addiction, aggression, abuse, family break-down, hindered psychosocial development and decreased well-being.
According to Dr. Jill Manning, a researcher, mental health practitioner and EIE Board member, "it is groundbreaking to have corporate and political leaders reexamining the controversial topic of pornography and concluding that the research substantiates a public health approach."
Mrs. Hughes concluded her personal statement by noting: "When the next President of the United States says enough is enough to the Internet-enabled sexual exploitation of our nation's youth, the tide will begin to turn."
Enough is Enough will be asking other federal and state legislators and candidates to sign similar pledges in order to insure their commitment to this critically important issue.
The Pledge is supported by peer-reviewed research showing the severity of the problem including:
- There has been a 774% increase in the number of child pornography images and videos reviewed through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Child Victim Identification Program between 2005 and 2011. Most victims of child pornography are prepubescent with a growing trend toward depicting abuse of younger children, including infants.
- Every day, children in the United States are sold for sex, often over the Internet on sites like backpage.com.
- Searches for teen pornography more than tripled between 2005 and 2013.
- 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online; 32% of boys and 18% of girls have viewed bestiality online.
- Internet safety is the 4th top ranked issue on the list of health concerns for U.S. children and sexting is ranked 6th.Sexting behaviors are significantly associated with consuming pornography.
- Porn users demand a constant stream of new, increasingly violent and "fetishized" content. In order to keep up with this demand, more women and children become prostituted and trafficked.
- 2016 meta-analysis of pornography research reveals adolescent pornography consumption is significantly associated with stronger gender-stereotypical sexual beliefs, earlier sexual debut, increased casual sex behavior, and increased sexual aggression both as perpetrators and victims.
- The United States is the largest producer and exporter of hardcore pornographic DVDs and web material. (2014)
The Presidential Pledge and supporting documentation can be found at http://enough.org/presidential_pledge.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Donna Rice Hughes, contact Kevin McVicker with Shirley & Banister Public Affairs at (703) 739-5920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donna Rice Hughes, Enough Is Enough®'s CEO & President has been an Internet safety pioneer, author, and speaker since1994. As a media commentator, she has given over 4500 interviews on Internet safety related issues. She is also the Emmy-award winning Producer and Emmy nominated Host of the EIE's Internet Safety 101SM TV series. She has testified numerous times before Congress, and has served as a COPA Commissioner and other national and state government task forces. She won the 2013 Women In Technology Award for Social Impact and the 2014 Professional Women in Advocacy Excellence In Advocacy Award for "Veteran Practitioner".