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  4. Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks at a Press Conference Announcing Know2Protect Campaign

Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks at a Press Conference Announcing Know2Protect Campaign

Release Date: April 17, 2024

Secretary Mayorkas delivered the following remarks at a press conference announcing the Know2Protect Campaign in New York City, New York.

Good morning and thank you very much for being here today.

Today the Department of Homeland Security is launching a new, first-of-its-kind national public awareness and education campaign to help stop one of the most heinous and most urgent threats to our children: online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The campaign is called Know2Protect. Its importance cannot be overstated; the cruelty and prevalence of this horrific crime are unimaginable.

This past January, our Department’s Homeland Security Investigations received a case referral from Europe regarding the online sexual exploitation of two under-age males. The exploitation was depicted in images and video. The victims had been lured and manipulated to believe they were speaking to a female, and they had been shown nude photographs and videos to make them believe that was true.

The case evidence led our investigators to believe the two young victims were United States citizens. Through their investigation, the work of the agency’s Victim Identification Lab, and cooperation with a local youth group in the area, Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations – or HSI as it is commonly known – identified and located the victims and began with the victims’ family the work of protection and support.

Last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received more than 36 million cyber tips from reports around the world. The volume of incoming reports has increased more than 20 percent over the past three years. The number of urgent, imminent reports involving a child at risk of imminent harm has grown by more than 140 percent over that same timeframe – almost 64,000 such reports were received last year alone. The scourge covers the world, from India to Pakistan, the Philippines to Australia, Europe, and here at home in the United States.

In too many places, the web is growing darker and darker.

I commend the courage and the heroism of the law enforcement agents and partners who fight this heinous crime every day, having to pour through horrific images and do the painstaking work of methodical, intricate research, arduous travel, and difficult confrontations.

I am in awe of the profound strength and resilience of the victims and survivors, their ability and resolve to overcome the traumas and rebuild their lives for a better, safer future.

We in law enforcement cannot do the work of prevention, investigation and accountability, and victim protection and support alone. We need everyone, working together with us, to forge an all-of-society effort against the global epidemic of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

That is why we are launching Know2Protect.

As part of this campaign, we are rolling out new, free resources and tools that children, their parents and loved ones, their peers, and the trusted adults in their lives can use to learn of the dangers and how to guard against them, how to stay safe online, how to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, and how to seek help. These free resources are available right now at Know2Protect.gov.

Know2Protect also includes an in-person educational program, called Project iGuardian, which teaches children, teens, and adults in schools, community groups, companies, and nonprofit organizations about the ongoing threat children and teens face from online predators, and prevention strategies to make the internet a safer place for the children and teens.

In ensuring that our Know2Protect campaign is an all-of-society effort, we reached out to organizations outside of government to join forces with us, understanding the tremendous reach and influence they have. The response was immediate, and we are both proud of and grateful for the growing partnership and momentum our campaign is already building. Our partners at launch include professional sports leagues and organizations, including NASCAR, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and the nonprofit U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which represents Team USA athletes; technology and gaming companies, including Google, Snap, Roblox, Meta, and Intel; civic organizations, including Boy Scouts of America and the National Police Athletic League; law enforcement partners, including the National Fusion Center Association, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and the Small and Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association; and many, many others.  You will hear from several of our partners shortly.

This morning, Know2Protect was broadcast on the NASDAQ billboard in Times Square. We have materials at Know2Protect.gov that are accessible to children, and we will work with schools across the country to distribute them. We are active on social media amplifying the campaign’s messaging, reaching out to target audiences where they gather with critical information they need to be safe.

Education and awareness make a difference. This past October, HSI Special Agents conducted a Project iGuardian presentation at a school in Tennessee. Following the presentation, after hearing how important it is to tell a trusted adult if you suspect you are a victim of online exploitation, a young girl in attendance came up to the Special Agents, accompanied by her parents. She told them that an adult male had contacted her on social media, sent her sexually explicit imagery of himself, and persuaded her to produce and send her own. The child received victim assistance, and federal prosecution of the perpetrator is now being pursued.

We are working with our partners in Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere around the world to fight this scourge. First and foremost, we must prevent the harm from ever occurring. Tragically, too often we must do the work of rescue, protection, and support.

The need to keep our children safe online requires all of us to work together, as partners. That is what our Know2Protect campaign is all about. We are grateful for the growing partnership and proud of this campaign. Our dedication to this work – to this mission – will be unrelenting. Thank you for joining us.


Last Updated: 04/17/2024
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