The Most Important Piece of Evidence at Crime Scenes
According to estimates by the federal government, the number of child sexual exploitation cases is on the rise
—with a 1,000-percent increase in child sexual trafficking cases reported since 2004. Moreover, the Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports that one in six runaways in 2014 were likely sex trafficking victims.
Thanks to efforts by Congress, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors at the federal, state, and local level, the number of active child sexual exploitation investigations has increased by 2,062 percent over the past 15 years. This increase has significantly heightened the demand for expertise and forensic resources at every level of government, resulting in growing backlogs of cases that have yet to be fully investigated. In fact, according to recent testimony provided to Congress by the FBI, the processing of digital evidence in some cases can take more than nine months.
Investigating and prosecuting child exploitation cases can be especially daunting. The fact patterns often involve shadowy networks of perpetrators who are able to move seamlessly across virtual and physical borders around the world. But as technology continues to make our world a smaller place, these perpetrators are finding it harder to hide in the shadows. The current number of mobile devices in use around the world recently exceeded seven billion, and this number is expected to continue to increase exponentially. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 91 percent of adults have a cellphone today—a mobile device for almost every person. The National Consumers League states 56 percent of children between the ages of eight and 12 have a cellphone, with the average age of receiving a first phone being 10-11.
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