tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN July 16, 2014 9:00am-10:01am EDT
military prosecutors, and health care professionals. processed more than 2.6 million cyber tip line reports of suspected child sexual exploitation and reviewed more than 115 million images and videos of apparent child pornography to assist law enforcement in identifying these victimized children. to date, nearly 6,000 children have been identified through clues gleaned from these images. the national center's done a lot to make our children safer, but this organization is needed more now than ever. the world is a different place than it was 30 years ago. the internet has transformed life in many positive ways, but it has also fostered an explosion of child pornography, literally images of violent sexual assaults against children that are traded amongst offenders from all walks of
life. the internet has inspired new crimes with names like online enticement, and sextortion and has become a thriving marketplace for selling children for sex. many children today have cell phones which function the same as computers. this is why it's vital that we work even more closely with our nation's schools to help educate them about the dangers on the internet and the real world. as part of our recent reauthorization, you gave us the authority to provide more resources to state and local educational agencies. we have started to use this new authority to expand our programs to protect more children. among our expanded initiatives with schools are new prevention curriculums, such as our kid smarts prevention curriculum which includes lesson plans and teaching tools set to launch this summer in time for the new school year. we've also been working to develop more age-specific, grade-level appropriate online curriculum and related educational resources for
teachers to download from our website to use directly in their classrooms. when i became president of nicmec two years ago, i was appalled at the number of children being openly sold for sex on websites like back page. technology has changed the playing field. a customer can shop online from the privacy of a home or hotel room and a child will be delivered to their door. as part of our work to combat child sex trafficking, we assist the fbi with operation cross country as has been mentioned. that was headquartered at our center and led to the recovery of 168 children over a 3-day period and the arrest of 281 pimps and predators. one example was a 16-year-old who reported to her mother that she ran away from a group home because she was being recruited by gangs.
the mother took the initiative, looked up back page, saw the phone number advertised, called the national center. we were able to track that phone number to three states in the span of less than three days. we passed that on to law enforcement. that girl was recovered during operation cross country. with respect to those children missing from foster care, there are current laws before congress now that we urge congress to pass. right now, only two states have laws mandating the reporting of children missing from foster care. as has been pointed out, one in seven missing children are also being sexually exploited. 67% of those are coming from foster care children. no one is looking for these children. they cannot be found until they are looked for. so i want to first thank this committee for focusing your efforts and giving us the ability to work more closely with schools, with teachers, with communities. especially those children with
special needs. 1 in 68, according to the cdc, suffer from autism. these children go laundering 50% of the time. that's not the right term. they are bolting. where are they bolting to? unsafe environments such as bodies of water. 45 children with autism have drowned in the last two years. we've set up new protocols for first responders because the behavioral characteristics are quite different for these children. parents need to be educated. first responders need to be educated. and we believe schools will play an important role in the prevention and awareness of this new phenomenon. it has reached epidemic proportions. so, with that, chairman, i've devoted more time for q&a because i think that's more important to focus on what is happening now and how we think we can partner further with this committee.
i want to thank you, though, for the reauthorization and the ability to meet these emerging challenges. >> and i thank mr. ryan. as i said earlier, i'm going to defer my questions to the end, and the chairman of the full committee is now recognized for five minutes. mr. kline. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. ryan, for being here. it was a pleasure to meet you and work with you when we were doing reauthorization, and as you know, i think that the center just does amazing and almost unimaginable, unimaginably difficult and challenging work. so we thank you for that. i'm looking at a couple of things here. i've got a, i think probably provided by your office, a nice little chart talking about the national center's statistics for minnesota, and looking at statistics since 1990 in
minnesota, alone, nicmec worked on 1,699 endangered runaways. family abductions. 67 loss, injured, or otherwise missing and so forth. that's one state. and not that big a state where you're working all the time. and doing, as i said, unimaginably challenging and difficult work. speaking of minnesota, in minneapolis we have a little company there called life touch. it's a school portraits company. you've arranged to work with them to help law enforcement and the media. how did that come about, and how does that work? >> life touch actually approached us back in 2004, as you say, they're based in minnesota. they are the largest national school photographers. and they are now global. as they grow.
they stepped up on a voluntary basis, offered to take free photographs for families of their children that families could use and with the assistance of life touch, form what they call a smile safe i.d. card which the families can hold and it has all the relevant information plus a photograph of their child. in addition, life touch with the parents' permission digitizes that photo and information. so when law enforcement is called upon to find a missing child, and we get that notice, the first thing we do to see if we have that photo and information on file, invariably we do now because of life touch. with this program, we found missing children in over 20 states because their child's photo was in life touch digitized inventory. >> thank you. again, another example of great innovation and progress. you're one of those agencies
that where everybody is busy all the time coming up with new ideas and new approaches because you're on a mission. and it's reassuring to know that you're there and you have the relationships that you have with law enforcement. you mentioned autism. and the increasing numbers of children with autism and the things that you are doing. can you expand a little bit -- sort of my remaining time here -- and tell me how this is different and how you've developed partnerships to make this work? it's got to be fairly challenging. >> it is, congressman. we learned from the first responder community that the characteristics of a typical search for missing child weren't applied in certain cases and the common denominator they found was these children suffered from one of the syndromes of autism.
these children are attracted to high-risk environments. when we use the term launder, that comes from the discussion dealing with the elderly, when they go off and, you know, it typically is a benign situation. but with these children, they're literally bolting in a blink of an eye, and they are attracted to bodies of water, to high density traffic areas. and within seconds, they can be thrust into these environments despite the best care of parents, despite the best response of the first responder community. so we have learned that it's critical to educate the parents in terms of what measures they can take to safeguard this child, both within their home and within the schools because these children are bolting from schools.
we saw these in new york city, one last year literally bolted from the classroom and later turned out went right into the east river. and what's the lesson learned there? schools need to know what measures they can take to prevent a child like that from having open access and egress from that school. who should be notified, you know, when these incidents occur? so we are focusing a lot of our attention and partnering with organizations like autism speaks. we are engaged on a psa campaign to educate the community at large. because the awareness level is not where it should be. the public will turn out to be the eyes and ears and first responders to this problem, but they need to know what to look for and how they should respond. >> thank you. i see my time has expired. i yield back. >> gentleman's time has expired. the ranking member is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. ryan, thank you for being here, again.
i really appreciate this and the wonderful work you folks are doing. i want to talk about how the reauthorized missing children's system act is working and what more you might need from us. you know, we're often having discussions, arguments about funding and all the rest. i like to say we're in a very highly constrained fiscal environment here in washington, d.c. i think we can probably all agree to that. but, you know, is there more that you can do, and if there were more funding, and is there more that you could do, or are you pretty much at a point here where you recognize the reality that funding is in short supply? and chances of maybe giving more probably aren't so great at this point? what's your sense of that? >> one of the things nicmec does well is do more with less. for instance, in the area of designing educational curriculums, we have our own in-house studio. we create the content that we use. we don't have to use third-party vendors.
that can be very expensive. we leverage our partnerships with a number of companies. they serve as the distribution platforms. again, we're cutting into those costs. but where we need to be further engaged is getting in front of the schools on a nationwide basis. not on a community-by-community, even state-by-state, but on a nationwide approach because we have the age-appropriate messaging. it's not a one-size-fits all. we can track these kids from kindergarten through high school because the nature of the problem is different. but we have, because we're the clearinghouse, we know the trends and patterns. we have the ability to design preventative messages. we have the ability to create the format, whether they be games or lesson plans. so we need -- you know, i think this committee is positioned to help us partnered with the
organizational committee to push this message out. >> i think it's great. the idea of a public/private partnership, we're as a country moving more in that direction all the time as well giving the limited resources we have at the federal level, whether it's on transportation or any number of other things. this is an area that, you know, clearly that seems to be working well. i'd be interested in finding out from you if you can provide us some information, writing, at some point sort of how it is that you judge how you're doing your job. what the metrics are. that kind of thing. you know, i can get that from you, if i get that from you in writing, i think we'd all probably appreciate that. i have no doubt you're doing a great job. you're doing your job and doing it about as effectively as you possibly can. can you elaborate a little more on the educational aspect of this? you already mentioned a number of things you're doing with schools. there may be more things you'd like to do with schools, with public schools, and private schools for that matter as well. can you elaborate on that a little bit? >> sure. where we think we could make a difference is train the trainers. in this case, the trainers would be the teachers. >> right.
>> we know that they are in position to be an early alert system. we learned here close to where we are now, fairfax county, with one of the better school districts in the country, over a three-year period, there was a major operation where gangs were recruiting high school students from the schools and trafficking them commercially through a neighborhood and community hotels. these children were going home at night. they were going to school for the most part, but nobody was picking up on the signs. so we learned from that. we work with law enforcement. we then have the conversation with the teachers. what did you see that was different? performance dropping off, coming in late, maybe bruises? it could have been very well-dressed, flashy jewelry. a whole range of symptoms that if the teachers were made aware of what to look for, they then could intervene at an early stage and pass that information on. >> i know in some places, in
iowa, for example, my wife taught second grade for a long time, teachers are mandatory reporters, too. that's something that is really important because teachers are in a situation, as you just said where they're right there on the front lines. school counselors, school nurses, a number of those folks are really critical. >> that's right. >> if we can continue to do that across the country, i think it makes a heck of a lot of sense. thank you so much. my time is almost up. i'm going to yield the rest of my time. >> i thank the gentleman. the gentleman from tennessee is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first of all, thank you for what you do every day, and i have to tell you that with our human trafficking bills that the congress passed in a bipartisan way just a few weeks ago, it really helped educate me about the enormity of this problem. i had no idea it was as large as it was. and i look at this graph that you have on your cyber tip line, and do you think -- i mean, down here from 1998 or 2000, now
there's just an astronomical increase. >> right. >> and what's the reason for that? is it because of better awareness, do you think? because i can tell you, i was clueless about how enormous this problem is and how you just very well described it could be in a school if you're not really paying attention and don't know what to pay attention to. somebody could be right there in front of you carrying on an apparently normal life. >> that's right. >> and they're not carrying on a normal life. >> i think one of the critical factors that has caused the increase is the online classified ad platforms on the internet. the back pages of the world. this has provided a relatively inexpensive business model for pimps and predators to advertise their clients, minors, for sex. and for a modest investment, they are trafficking these children around the country.
usually under the radar of local law enforcement because they're moving them from community to community, state to state. and these are children from all walks of life. the majority of them start off as endangered runaways. but some of them come from stable households. they're applying for jobs that they think may be modeling or something in the entertainment business. then they're lured by these predators and taken then across the country. so it's in everybody's backyard. if people are not aware of it, they're not looking for it. >> what's the way to -- i didn't even know what back page was three months ago or four months ago. >> sure. >> how do you go after those folks? one of the bills we passed was to go after the people who advertise on -- is that an effective method to do it, because it's cheap, as you said, to put up a web page? >> and currently there's no regulations that they fall under, so unlike the responsible electronic service providers who
have a legitimate business model, they choose not to know who their customer is. they turn a blind eye. if they see something that may look like potentially child pornography, they may make a preliminary report, but they're not searching their systems. if they see a phone number associated with potentially illicit activity, well, search your system. that's not an isolated occurrence. that child associated with that number has probably popped up in multiple states as we saw in operation cross country. so they are doing the bare minimum. >> a wink and a nod. >> exactly. >> that's all they're doing. >> precisely. >> and one of the things we did, i think, in the bill, that's extremely important, is to take the victims, not make them criminals but make them victims and so they can turn themselves in and not be prosecuted. some of the fear is they're probably afraid i'll go to jail because i'm engaged in something illegal. i thought that was a huge issue
to take these children -- they're not. they're victims of these crimes. >> you're 100% right, sir. when they were treated like victims, they were not reporting because they felt that law enforcement was not a potential ally, potential threat. and the gap still exists, though, when these minors are recovered, for instance, in operation cross country. where do they go? where are they placed? they're not in the criminal justice system now which is good. but there's no hold over them. we don't want them going back to the same environment because the rate of recidivism is very high. that 24, 48-hour period is critical to put them in the right hands to get them the therapeutic care that they need. i think this committee is well situated to identify those resources and agencies we can partner with. >> there's a real shortage as i understand it as i learned about this. the other thing i want to in my short time remaining is to talk about the missing from foster care. i would think that that would
be -- that's amazing to me that only states have any requirement if a child walks away from foster care that no one would know that. what can we do or what should states do to alleviate that? >> presently there is legislation in front of this congress with bipartisan support that would require social service agencies, those foster care facilities, to report every instance of a child going missing to law enforcement and then on to the national center. we know the two states that currently do that, florida and illinois. we received over 4,000 reports over the last year. we can intervene with law enforcement at an early stage. we can find out, because they frequently run away. it's not an isolated situation. we know where they're likely to go, who they're with. law enforcement gets that information, they can intercept them before they're exploited. so a mandatory uniform program of reporting will be immeasurably an improvement. >> thank you for what you do. you're making a difference in this country. i yield back. >> thank you, sir.
>> gentleman's time expired. now introduce a legislator who is a dear friend to everyone on this committee, the gentle lady from new york, representative mccarthy for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you ranking member loebsack. just listening to, reading your testimony, but a few things bother me, especially on the foster children and also the children that are in the schools. my sister is a school nurse, and she does report an awful lot of things to social services. if it's not a high-level case, they can't take it and they just let it go. this is one of the biggest complaints that i hear from her when she knows something is going on. and, of course, the child does not open up. so i think that is something that we really need to look at, you know, because you're talking about social workers which we don't have enough of them. we don't have enough school nurses to be able to have, like -- everybody does go to her.
the children. you wear that white uniform, that's safe. so i don't know how we're going to, you know, solve that problem, but the children with disabilities, you know, i'm sitting here -- they already got two strikes against them, especially those that have a hard time communicating and that's going to be a real problem and that is a real problem. and i'm thinking of some people my age, little bit older, some of us have pendants, so if we fall or something, it has a gps so it can respond. i don't know what the privacy laws would be, but especially with children that can't communicate well, can like a gps watch help them to recover? >> absolutely. and there are some programs in place based on gps tracking, and
it's a voluntary process where their family decides to, you know, implement that device. it can be something in their school bag so it's not, you know, visible. it's not going to be something that's going to, you know, cause any alarm or, you know, undue, you know, discussions. and some police districts have signed on to support that. so that device will only be triggered when a family member activates it. it goes directly to the police agency. we had a case here recently in montgomery county where actually the child of one of the autism speaks executives, their young boy traveled to school back and forth on a school bus. inadvertently was put on the wrong school bus, gets lost in the system for many hours, which is a nightmare for a child. that child had that device in his school bag. they called montgomery county. it was activated. they found that child within 15 minutes of the activation. >> to follow up, the programs you're doing in the schools, are you also reaching out to the pta so the parents are also
educated? one of the things we found especially with trying to educate parents on they should know what their children are looking on on the internet. there's so many good programs out there, but we're finding a lot of parents don't take advantage of that. >> you're right, congresswoman. we provide -- our website is our principle resource for parents and the community. but if they don't know about us, they're not going to go to us. so we have to do a better job of getting out to the communities, raising awareness of what services and resources we can provide, all of them for free. i think, again, that's why the schools are the nexus. >> yeah. >> because the parents are connected to the schools for a range of services and guidance. so i think if we can, you know, get our foot in the door there, we can do a better job dealing more directly with the parents. >> now, have you been doing a lot of work with some of the
social workers? especially for those children that are placed into a foster home? because you hear and you read about so many cases where these children are put into these foster homes and there for a number of years but the turnover, or the runaways are extremely high. is there any way where the social workers are actually the key to really see that these abuses are going on, but a lot of times a social worker comes in, the child is petrified, doesn't want to say anything, especially depending on the age. by the time they get to be a teenager, they bolt. >> that's right. we have -- in connection -- in addition, i should say, with the two states that are reporting, we have made outreach efforts to a number of states through social service agencies and law enforcement agencies to form partnerships and protocols of reporting, and we've had some
success in a number of states where, again, social service workers are the key. they are the ones outside the classroom that have the most contact with these children. and even if they're not getting the information from the child, they know something's wrong. they're not being told something. what is that? if they know that the national center may be able to provide additional information, what could be happening, then we form that link that kind of closes that gap. you is social services, you have law enforcement, you have the national center. we may know where that child is going from because with the dialogue of social workers, does that child have a phone? what is that phone number? we have access to all the public databases. the social media platforms. like that mother did of that 16-year-old.
she looked for her daughter's phone number on back page. we can look up that number. we may see where that surfaces and it may not be a good story, but we can pass that information on so there's intervention before exploitation. >> thank you for your service. >> gentle lady's time expired. gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. ryan, thank you for being here, for one of our most crucial missions. keeping our children safe. really appreciate your work. i was pleased to learn of your initiative, safe to compete. >> yes. >> which raises awareness of child athlete sexual abuse and provides training and preparedness opportunities. i'm sure we can all agree that putting forth a set of best practices will ensure our children will be safer when participating in sports. can you briefly describe what is currently being done to ensure our athletes are protected and how as policymakers we can further assist with those efforts? >> as a result of that safe to compete conference where we drew together most of the nation's largest youth sports entities and mental health professionals
as well as community leaders, they signed on to what you have referred to as best practices which includes that critical stage when an organization is taking on either a volunteer or a paid staff member who will have close contact with these children. many of these organizations have overnight, weekend stays, even week to a month stay. so parents need to know who they are entrusting their children over to. who is literally going to be responsible for their children? these organizations now are doing background checks. they're doing criminal history checks. so they are able to detect red flags before they turn over the care and custody of these children to these, whether they be volunteers or staff members. now, more needs to be done. and that's where i think congress can help because we need a nationwide uniform program of background checks. the larger organizations can afford it. they can, you know, pass that on
through dues or other, you know, grants that they get, but the small local community-based organizations, and there are thousands of them, they cannot. so we need to supplement their ability to do the same background checks. because it's equally as important. because there's a gap then. and predators find the gaps. they're not going to go to an organization where they know they're going to be vetted and checked out. they'll go to a smaller organization because as long as they have kids, that's all they need. and if they're not going to be properly, you know, vetted, then they get in the front door and that's where the problems are. so we need a nationwide uniform approach of background checks. fingerprints have proven to be the most reliable and comprehensive. there is a cost associated with that. but there are ways to spread that cost around. we've worked with some of our
partners like lexisnexis. they have, as a result, a safe to compete. they actually helped fund that conference, congressman. and they offered a discount rate to community organizations to provide those necessary checks, to ensure the cost was not a prohibiting factor. so we're prepared to work with congress. we can identify some of these corporate partners who could help defray some of these costs, but it needs to be done. >> thank you, as always. you do such great organization. i wanted to zero in on your workshop which seems like a valuable tool to teachers, parents, and students. can you talk a little more about this program, and how will the new initiative, kids smarts, deliver from your main education program? >> well, we're expanding -- net smarts started out as primarily a web-based platform where we provided the access to teachers and educators to come to our website, download the resources, and then utilize them in their
school. because we've grown, as i mentioned, we have our own in-house studio now. some of them get carried away. they think they're like disney animators. they created characters and formats, again, that are age appropriate. so you don't want to scare kids at the age of 5, but yet some of these kids have access to ipads. so you can't neglect them and say, well, wait until they get a little older. you have to approach them and address them as soon as they're starting to access these devices. so, but yet the same message, the same cartoons, you know, a high school student is going to say, obviously not for me. but they are still vulnerable. sexting. sextortion. those are new offenses that are targeting what we call tweens. they're the ones who are socially adept at utilizing the
technology much more so than i, but yet they don't know the real-world problems that are being facilitated through those devices. so, again, we now have the ability to target these messages, and we have the platform now, but we still need that entree. you know, i think we need a committee like this and other partners to get into this discussion because it's free. at the end of the day, it's free. this kids smart program we're going to launch in september, totally paid for by honeywell. not a dime of taxpayer funds. and they are committed. if this is successful, as we hope it is, they're not going to just say this is a one-time release. they will stand behind it. and other partners will step up. we've been in touch with the rotary association. i didn't realize how strong they are. 1.2 billion members. and they are -- all the stakeholders that we would hope to deal with, business leaders, educators, political leaders,
you know, the schools. they are adopting now some of our challenges. they're about to take on child sex trafficking as maybe their next national campaign after polio. that is huge. because they touch all the important sectors that we need to touch that we couldn't do without support like that. so, again, we look forward to the partnership with this committee because you have the same charter, and we can, i think, with our subject matter expertise in this area, work well together. thank you. >> thank you. gentleman's time expired. the gentle lady from ohio is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. ryan, for being here today. mr. ryan, i represent the 11th district of ohio where news, national news was made last year when we found three young women had been held in a home for more than ten years. but we also found that there was
a great amount of change needed within our police department because their practices in some ways made the problem worse as it relates to how we search for and find missing exploited children. how much work do you do with local police departments to prepare them to look for these young people? >> we actually worked -- we worked very closely with that community. we have ongoing training, we call it the ceo training course. we bring in national law enforcement leaders to the national center. usually a class size is about 50 to 75. and it's train the trainers. we teach them and expose them to the resources that the national center can provide so when they go back home to their respective agencies, they become our ambassadors.
cleveland is a good example. we held, it wasn't a ceo training course, but we held what we called a long term missing children's summit in the aftermath of the cleveland case because there were a lot of lessons learned and takeaways. >> absolutely. but these police departments are not required to do it. correct? they just do it because it -- in cleveland's situation, they only did it because they had to. >> it is voluntary. >> what do we do to make sure that every single local police department has the proper training? because i'm telling you, that's a major part of the problem. >> i think it should be built into the training curriculum of every police academy. because it's going to become a critical part of their mission. it only takes one missing child case, and if they're not familiar with how to deal with that case, what resources are available, who to partner with, we will see what happened ten years ago in cleveland, where those cases, you know, fell through the cracks. so, that should never happen again. we actually had the cleveland girls at ncmec. we had the chance to talk with them. we learned from survivors what
can they teach us? what can they teach law enforcement? because they have a powerful story to tell. >> thank you. let me just take this one step further. just this year, a year later, our local paper ran an editorial titled put a face on greater cleveland's faceless missing children. i was shocked to realize how often the descriptions of these missing kids aren't accompanied by a photograph of some sort. and/or they are not put on police websites or websites of nonprofits. how do we encourage nonprofits, as well as our police departments, to make sure that these -- the faces of these kids are on their websites? >> we have a photo distribution partnership with well over 1,000 corporations including the social media platforms, facebook, and google. they have dedicated websites for missing kids and they provide profiles of who these missing kids are, age progressed photos
of these children. >> right, i understand that. i'm talking about police departments and local nonprofits. because a lot of times people don't go to those sites. if i live in cleveland i want to go to my cleveland police department and see it. let me just ask you my last question. >> sure. >> what is the recovery rate for -- as it relates to demographics with your agency? certainly at least from our experience at home we find that minority children are not recovered nearly as quickly as non-minority children. do you find that to be true? >> well, we don't keep recovery rates based on, you know, any of the demographics like race, gender. we have an overall recovery rate. i agree with you, congresswoman, that more needs to be done because we do know that over 50% of those children who go missing are from minority communities. >> precisely. >> they do not get the same level of media attention that is warranted. we have taken a number of steps to, you know, actually convene
major networks and publications to do what we think is a more responsible effort to keeping these cases alive. because it is critical. because as these cases age, out of sight, out of mind, and that should never happen. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> thank the gentle lady. the gentle lady from indiana is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. and thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this important hearing. i actually had the opportunity when i was u.s. attorney and i now don't recall what year, we toured your center. and learned it was sometime between i would a '02 and '06. that i toured the center, and was very involved in our internet crimes against children task force with assistant u.s. attorney steve debroda, who i know works a lot with the center. and my question is, how -- when
we have icac task forces all around the country, as well as local jurisdictions have child exploitation task forces, when kids come up in their investigations and photos, but you don't know enough, you don't know who the child is, or even where the crime is taking place, how are the photos or the images of those children shared with you so you can figure out if you have information in your databases about what law enforcement is looking at? >> that's a great question. well, we get our images from a number of sources that the principle one is our cyber tip line, which again, we've received over 2.6 million reports, many of them do contain images of yet to be identified children. we populate our databases with those images, and through the support of some of the technology companies, like google and facebook, and microsoft, they help us with what we call tools, visual aids, that we can go through these reams of images, millions in
number, what are the common links? where have we seen that before? because many times these images are part of a series, and some of the series may be innocuous, benign images. but we have to match that up with that illicit scene of that same child, and we're able to do that, but we're actually working now -- the problem is this, is we cannot be a state actor. if we are a state actor, then we harm law enforcement's prosecution of these cases which we make referrals to. so, we don't accept images from law enforcement. we push out to law enforcement. having said that, we have a fairly robust and comprehensive inventory or library, so to speak, because we're being fed by the largest esps.
>> that's my -- that's my concern about this. is that you do have this huge database of images and yet it seems that law enforcement, and the cases would benefit, and their investigations would benefit if they were required to push the images to you, you might be able to make the match. >> well, they have access to ours. they have access -- and we coordinate through interpol, so there are common databases that have access points. but, again, we have to segregate what we receive from law enforcement to ensure it's not tainted for potential fourth amendment challenges when these cases are prosecuted. >> okay. i'd like to talk to you about that a bit further offline as to how we can help resolve some of this. >> absolutely. >> because i think that your center, and all of these task forces, maybe we should talk about how they can work in even closer cooperation.
and i know because i work on emergency preparedness issues that there are platforms where red cross and where fema and others monitor twitter feeds and facebook. are you in a position, either working with google, pallentier, facebook, where you are monitoring twitter feeds and facebook, maybe in geographic areas to try to find out what's going on in some communities? >> we don't monitor but we do have links. and both through the -- all the companies that you mention, they actually partner with us, provide access to their software applications, and more importantly their audiences in the case of google, and facebook. so we have an active dialogue through all those social media applications. we don't monitor them per se. we encourage an active engagement, though. >> are you familiar, though,
with what i'm talking about that fema and red cross actually monitor for maybe public health outbreaks or after emergencies, cries for help and so forth? >> sure. we actually partner with fema because as you know congress has designated the national center as a national relocation center for when children go missing in a mass disaster. and so we work closely in establishing protocols with fema, and the red cross, in the event of a potential crisis so we kind of piggyback on their resources and programs, and they bring us in when they see the need. >> thanks so much for your incredible help and learning if there are legal impediments you have. >> look forward to that dialogue. >> gentle lady's time's expired. the gentleman from kentucky is not on the subcommittee but without objection i'd like to recognize him for a line of questioning if he'd like regarding this matter.
mr. guthrie. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate it very much to allow me to do so. i'm over on this side of the room. >> good to see you again. >> i apologize i'm not on the subcommittee so i'm down here. i think they had a new member come in. i apologize for that. before i get to what i was going to ask on the question of not requiring to report there's only two states required to report, that's reporting to law enforcement, right? they have to report if they have somebody in their foster care leaves theirs foster care they report it to social services or somebody. they just don't have any reporting -- >> that mate be the case. it varies by state. i'm referring specifically with reporting to law enforcement. >> and i was in the center and i did the authorization last year, and, you know, it shows that when we find common ground in the house and senate we can work together, senator leahy and i were the primary sponsors of your reauthorization, and so i came to tour the center, and i recommend it to all my colleagues to do that, and the techniques that you have to go through to find one, who the child is in the image, and who the person is creating the
image, who we want to find is interesting how you do that, and it's something we need to know, and it certainly is a skill, and ability and there are things going on in this world most people can't even get their minds around that happens. and the issue with me, i'm from bowling green kentucky and this always happens in the big city you think, and so when we're home on our working in august i'm trying to highlight the fact that this does happen everywhere. anywhere that has a computer, it's not just somebody out on the street sore so forth. so we're going to try to do roundtables or conferences in different parts of my city. what kind of things do you think, just advice for us, we should let make sure people know what's going on in their communities? because you see it everywhere. you see what's happening. what kind of thing do you think
people don't know in general that they need to know about what's probably happening in their community? >> one of the most prevalent venues where these minors are being trafficked are in local hotels. now typically, you know, people aren't paying attention who's coming and going in these hotels but those who are in the business of operating hotels they are in a position to take notice of the behavioral characteristics consistent with this trafficking. for instance, many times a pimp will come in with three, sometimes five young girls. the girls will be off to the corner, the pimp will go in, make the arrangements for three to five rooms. might be for a three-day period. typically cash. these girls will go up to the rooms. they'll never leave their rooms. food will be delivered. nobody sees them again until they leave. that's strange. what -- what's going on? why is that pimp hanging around? why is he walking the hallways? you know, 24/7.
something's going on that's inconsistent with the regular routine of the trade of that hotel. and i'm -- i'm not just talking about the very small, seedy hotels. i'm talking about very well-known, reputable brands. >> chain hotels. my home is exit 22 on i-65 is like it's right there. and so, every chain that you know that has -- >> it's every chain. what i invite people to do, and i say this with some degree of reluctance, but if you want to see the scope of the problem in your neighborhood, go to a back page because they promote ads in communities. in towns. it's not just cities, but they break it down, you know, into counties, into boroughs, into communities. so if they're advertising your area in an adult escort service that means you have a problem. a child, if not multiple
children, are being exploited in that area. >> you know, i want to reach out to you, i know miss brooks is going to, and just kind of those ideas what you think we should present so people -- those are -- i didn't think about inviting hotel owners to come to a roundtable. but that sounds like -- or tourism groups. >> you know, these young girls, there are some boys, but mostly it's young girls, they're being trafficked from state to state. so how are they getting to and from? many times they're flying. then they're getting into cabs. we've had many reports, law enforcement gets reports. they see the same young girls over the course of a month, two months, come through their area. go to the same hotels. go back, you know, at some point to the same. there are a lot of eyes and ears in different sectors who, if they're properly educated, alerted, who can they call? typically it's going to be law enforcement. they can get to the bottom of this.
and do incredibly good work. >> thank you. appreciate that. i yield. thank you for the time, mr. chairman. >> gentleman's time has expired. i will now recognize the gentleman from -- mr. sablan for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and welcome mr. ryan. and, well, looking at this map of registered sex offenders, and we see -- we're grateful, one, that we're included in the map, because usually the territories are for some reason excluded. but i want to welcome you, and tell you a little story, also, you know, about our island and the district i come from. one morning in may of 2011 there's the tragedy of two missing sisters, actually, that fell hard upon our community.
milana, who is 9 years old and philoma, who was age 10 were last seen at their bus stops as they were on their way to school. they were on their way to school and law enforcement authorities were notified that the young girls were missing only after the sisters failed to return home from school that afternoon, and so there's a gap of time that was lost, but i want to thank your organization, sir, in particular for working with our office to ensure that we were included in this information and this map that -- that we have before us, and it's been three years since the girls have been -- have not been found. there have been leads according to law enforcement officials, but the girls remain missing, and there have been no arrests. and we have not forgotten the
entire -- the entire community have not forgotten about malena and philoma and i hope your organization can still find them alive and unhurt, but under the reauthorization, the 2013 reauthorization, your organization is required to until local agencies for services, programs and resources for missing and exploited children. if we could be of any assistance to your organization in connecting you to our school officials, we'd be very -- more than happy to do that, but i need to ask you if you could tell me if you have reached out to our leas, our public school system, and if you did, what can you share with me as a result from your coordination with them. >> congressman, i'd have to look
into that to see if there's been direct contact. i know that our case managers on the case that you reference, for instance, would be in touch with the law enforcement investigators because one of the things we do and are doing in cases like that, we -- two things to keep that case alive in, you know, the efforts of law enforcement. we do an age progression which we do every year, and we release that and update that to law enforcement, and all are postered distribution, partners, that should be going on within your respective district. and the other thing we do is a comprehensive what we call actually an anniversary campaign so every two years we'll disseminate stories about in this case those two young girls
who went missing, again, to try to generate a lead and a tip to come in because, you know, as people's memories fade, if you keep the story in front of them, they may remember that one crucial piece of evidence that they may not have thought important a year or two ago but now in context they will call. >> right. >> so we are doing that, i can tell you that. >> and the reason i'm offering to help you, your organization hook up with our public school officials, for example, is from just the information that we've been able to receive from those law enforcement authorities, the time since the girls were last seen at the bugs stop and the time that law enforcement authorities were notified, those were, according to some people, very important, very critical time that has -- that would have been very useful in probably solving the crime, and -- and,
unfortunately, you know, the authorities were not notified until the girls didn't come home from school. i am -- i understand that the authorities were uninformed when the girls did not report to school, and i know that some of our school officials have changed the systems and have updated, but we need your cooperation, sir. >> sure. >> and i would be willing to connect you with -- if you've not made any contact or coordination -- >> we'll definitely follow up. >> we need our assistance in getting our school officials up to date or what are the basic things or important things they need to do to keep the children safe and -- and so we don't repeat this whole thing again. my time is up. >> i thank the gentleman. the gentleman's time. i would note for the record that he's from the john marinia islands and it was the chair's ignorance that caused the confusion in introducing him.
the chair recognizes himself for five minutes. mr. ryan, thank you again. my blood boils. at the beginning when you gave that brief example about how a child could be delivered to a hotel room as easily as ordering a pizza. as a father of a 6-year-old and 4-year-old, you know, if i saw that gentleman, i don't know if i could contain myself. probably be in jail right alongside of him for battery, if not worse. you came from the internet business, if i looked at your bio right. you worked for aol. this has nothing to do with aol, but i'm trying to establish a record here. something along the way your career led you to this position now after working on the jerry sandusky scandal, or the aftermath of it. you mentioned at the beginning
of your testimony that the world is a different place, and you immediately transitioned to the internet. did the internet cause this? did the internet enable this? is this world a different place because of a deterioration of society in general, or were these people, struggling for my christianity here, these people -- have these people always been here and with us in our society? the internet provides a global platform. it provides the ability for a
predator to so-called groom a potential victim because through all the information that is imparted in different social media sites, a predator will glean that information and then turn that around and targeted an individual. they will know the name, the school they go to, their activities, their friends, so when they start the dialogue with potential victim, that victim feels that this is a peer. they know me. they are just like me. their guard is down. that's what the internet has encouraged and enhanced, and it -- it's made the apprehension of these predators more difficult for law enforcement because, you know, they can operate under the radar, so to speak, so it -- it has caused -- i use the term explosion of these offenses because these
predators have additional tools. they have the ability to, you know, stay undetected, and they have much more opportunity to target a larger pool of potential victims. >> regarding the internet, do you have any conclusions for companies, anything you haven't mentioned yet, sort of censoring or anything that you want to get on record? >> absolutely. as aol we employed what we call parental filters. you enable parents to restrict the level of access that children have on the internet, and it requires a partnership. >> what about those kids that don't have parents effectively, the ones that might be going to the social worker? that was brought up in earlier questioning and that sort of thing. >> it enhances the problem, but,
you know, whoever is entrusted with the care and guardianship of that child, whether it be a social worker or even a teacher during that school day, they have to be that responsible person who if they are providing access to the internet which all schools do now, they have to take on the added responsibility to know where they are allowing that child to navigate and what tools and filters are in place. >> thank you. the time i have will have -- you mentioned several times, committee being well situated quote, unquote, to help develop the partnerships. can you give more detail on what you mean by that i? just assumed you developed the partnership. don't wait on congress and the committee and so forth. do this work. >> well, for instance, we've had the ability in this past year alone since we engaged and got more familiar, you know, educating this community about our work and frankly we've learned more about your mission
and charter which has been extremely helpful. we've worked with the staff members in terms of their work to try to help identify legislative measures that could address some of the challenges that are emerging. just prior to this conference, this testimony, i was engaged with a very, you know, excellent dialogue with a staff member, talking about what you're seeing and what are some of your challenges and where that intersection may be, what fixes you are thinking about and what is our take. a dialogue, i found that a dialogue by interested stakeholders is more likely to end up with a mutual solution that if you don't have that dialogue, you're flying blind. >> okay. thank you. my time is expired. i'm now recognize the ranking member for any closing remarks. >> thank you, mr. chair. i just appreciate the fact that we've had you here today, mr. .