Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of the PROTECT Our Children Act (S. 782).

Chairman Goodlatte: I’m pleased today that we are voting to reauthorize the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 — or, the PROTECT Act. The PROTECT Act authorizes local law enforcement task forces to combat crimes against children online. These Internet Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, task forces have been absolutely crucial in the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of Internet crimes against children. The program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child sexual abuse images available electronically, and heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with potential underage victims.

Since the ICAC program’s inception in 1998, more than 589,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigative and prosecute ICAC-related cases. More than 709,000 complaints of alleged child sexual victimization have been reviewed resulting in the arrest of more than 73,000 individuals. There are now 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

The need for these ICAC task forces has never been greater. The use of the Internet by children is only increasing, and so are the crimes committed against them. Law enforcement officers are encountering new types of crimes, such as sextortion, that create new complexities in their investigations.

I’d like to take a moment to commend Ms. Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Mr. Smith of Texas for introducing the companion bill in the House. During his tenure as Judiciary Committee chairman, my friend Lamar Smith was a tireless advocate on behalf of our nation’s children.

Children are our most precious resource, and we must be vigilant in ensuring their protection. As a father and grandfather, I can think of no more important role we can play than protecting our children.

Thank you Mr. Speaker. I reserve the balance of my time.