Project Safe Childhood: Combating child sexual exploitation and abuse across the Carolinas

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(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – For many parents, the pandemic brought increased awareness to how much time kids spend online and how potentially dangerous the web can be. 

But for the federal government, they’ve been watching over our children with Project Safe Childhood since 2006 – an initiative uniting federal, state and local agencies to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. In essence, to protect the well being of children online. 

Assistant United States Attorney Cortney Randall has been with the program for almost 15 years. She is a prosecutor in the Western District of North Carolina and says it’s a nationwide collaborative effort. 

When a perpetrator has cases in more than one state, law enforcement from the different agencies decide together who prosecutes first by looking at potential sentences, strength of evidence, different laws and perhaps, most important, what is best for the victim. 

So how do victims get targeted? Randall says some criminals go after who they have easiest access to. 

Whereas others, Randall says, “Go online and seek to meet any child anywhere they can find them, anyone can be a victim – they don’t care where they are.” 

Randall also warns how everyday messaging apps are weapons for child predators as well as video games like Xbox. So how can parents protect their kids from being online victims? 

Randall says to parents, “When you do come across something online or someone does try and contact your child please report it to law enforcement….even if your child is not a victim, that person is just going to go out and find a new victim.” Adding, “Any child can be a victim, anyone. There’s no certain ago, no certain gender, no certain socioeconomic status – anyone can be a victim.” 

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