FRANKFORT — “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” – Luke 18:16.
The internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for our children. Computers, cellphones, tablets and game apps can be the conduit for sexual predators to communicate with and quite possibly harm our children.
We have all heard the warning “don’t talk to strangers” when trying to protect our children. This saying still rings true but now it applies whether our kids are outside or online.
As parents, we must be vigilant in monitoring and teaching our children about the risk strangers, or even perceived friends, present to them through technology. As the parents of a 5- and 6-year-old, my wife Brittiany and I are constantly keeping an observant eye on our children.
But with technology always changing, parents must be increasingly diligent.
As attorney general I’m focused on helping parents and better protecting our children by doing everything in my authority to make our neighborhoods and streets a little safer every night.
With a laser focus on preventing and prosecuting child abuse, my office is removing those predators who seek to harm our children on our streets and over the Internet at a record pace.
In the last biennium, the Office of the Attorney General removed 30 child sex offenders from Kentucky communities. In the first few months I have been in office, we have removed 17.
We are on track to triple the number of child sex offender that we catch.
Our efforts to protect children have led to arrests or convictions in cases in Bell County; Taylor County; Clark County; Pulaski County; Oldham County; Jefferson County; Fayette County; Shelby County; and Campbell County. My office also assisted in the arrest of two men in Louisville on human trafficking charges.
Human trafficking is the worst form of child abuse. Many Kentuckians do not realize that there is no such thing as a child prostitute in Kentucky. It’s human trafficking.
When I took office three months ago, I created a family branch in the Attorney General’s Office to draw extra attention to the challenges facing Kentucky families with specific divisions focused on child abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking.
To help in the fight against human trafficking I have asked lawmakers to give my office the authority to prosecute human trafficking cases across the Commonwealth. While Kentucky has some of the nation’s strongest human trafficking laws, only about 10 percent of child trafficking reports to the state have resulted in criminal investigations.
My office stands ready to assist local law enforcement and local prosecutors to attack these cases and pull our children out of these horrific circumstances.
Removing predators from our streets is an important piece in ending abuse. But collaborative education, outreach and awareness efforts are imperative if we are to successfully prevent child abuse.
To better arm parents and school officials, my office is partnering with Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky to offer Internet safety trainings for families and professionals. This strategy includes an update and publication of the Internet safety toolkit, a highly-successful approach to Internet safety training.
This training is in Lexington May 18 and 19. Those interested may register on my website at www.ag.ky.gov. The safety toolkit will also be housed on the AG’s website for all parents to learn from.
We face some major, complex problems that affect every single one of us. Child abuse is one of the most egregious issues we face as a state.
But child abuse can be prevented.
It is a result of frustration, stress, ignorance and misunderstanding. It has been passed down through generations. But it can be prevented.
We must share this message with our communities. We must openly discuss abuse and the ways in which we can prevent it. And we must impress upon everyone that it is their legal and moral duty to report abuse. To report child abuse, contact my office at 877-KYSAFE1.
We cannot stand idly by at the expense of a child.
My office stands ready to help in any way we are able. We are committed at our core to better protect Kentucky’s children.
And together, we will make a difference.