A leading advocate for protecting children from obscene internet content says President Obama has been absent in the fight and she is urging Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to play a leading role in fight against child exploitation, child pornography and other obscene material.
Donna Rice Hughes is president and CEO of Enough Is Enough, an organization committed to “making the internet safer for women and children.” The group is sent out letters to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, asking them to be aggressive in enforcing existing laws against obscenity, exploitation and trafficking.
Rice Hughes says the commitment is needed because there has been no leadership on this issue for the past eight years.
“The issue, by and large, has been bipartisan in Congress, but I would say we’ve seen more aggressiveness by the Departments of Justice under (George W.) Bush as opposed to Clinton. And Obama, I don’t know what he’s doing,” said Rice Hughes.
She says Obama’s record on this issue is appalling, far worse than simply not making it a priority.
“In fact they had a few obscenity prosecutors in DOJ. They only had three in the entire department, when you’ve got a multi-billion dollar industry. They told me when (Obama) came in, they were told not to prosecute obscenity anymore,” said Rice Hughes.
That’s why Enough Is Enough is demanding promises from Trump and Clinton to be out front in protecting kids from online predators and obscenity.
“What we’re asking the candidates to do is to agree, before they’re elected, to enforce all the laws on the books that are in place currently designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online. Those laws are, specifically, the federal obscenity laws, the child pornography laws, the sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws,” said Rice Hughes.
In addition, the group is demanding the next president nominate an attorney general who will make this issue a priority and aggressively prosecute those committing crimes against children online.
The pledge also asks the candidates to consider creating a special presidential commission to help tackle the problem. It also wants more resources devoted to hunting down these criminals.
“Law enforcement simply doesn’t have the resources and the tools to really get on top of that. The bad guys are many, many steps in front of law enforcement. And like I said with respect to obscenity laws, they haven’t even been touched by the Obama administration,”said Rice Hughes.
The pledges went out earlier this year. Rice Hughes says the GOP nominee responded right away.
“Donald Trump’s campaign sent back the signed pledge immediately,” she said.
Rice Hughes says the Clinton campaign has voiced strong support for the pledge but did not sign it.
“We did receive a note back from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager that they had a policy against signing pledges but that she supported the pledge,” said Rice Hughes.
She says the campaign director later called her to say Clinton really wanted to sign the pledge but had already rejected many other groups because of their policy.
Rice Hughes says parents are overwhelmed by the flood of horrific images that are just a click away for their kids, noting alarming statistics such as a 774 percent rise in the amount of child pornography online between 2005-2011. Searches for teen sex tripled from 2005-2013. The data show 83 percent of boys and 57 percent of girls have seen group sex online. Thirty-two percent of boys and 18 percent of girls have even viewed scenes of bestiality.
She says strong evidence exists that hardcore pornography is a major reason for the rise in juvenile sex offenders, why children as young as five years old are acting in increasingly sexualized ways. And she points out that the demand for more graphic like group sex and bestiality content leads to increased trafficking of women and girls to perform in the films.
Rice Hughes stresses the effort to crack down on obscenity is not in conflict with the first amendment.
“People need to realize that just because this content it out there doesn’t mean that it’s protected under the first amendment. It is not. It is there because it hasn’t been enforced. Those laws against it have not been enforced,” she said.
“This is about the children but let’s recognize that this is about much more. This is about the public health and safety of our children, our women and even our men,” said Rice Hughes.