Sunday, December 14, 2008

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Attorney General Abbott Partners With Houston Texans To Distribute Child Protection Flash Drives

HOUSTON – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today distributed thousands of special child identification software-enhanced flash drives to families entering Reliant Stadium for the Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans game. The flash drives, which were developed by Family Trusted Child ID and sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), allow parents to digitally store their children’s recent photographs and other critical identifying information. As a result, if a child goes missing, parents have instant access to the information authorities need to locate the child.

“When a child goes missing, every second counts,” Attorney General Abbott said. “By storing photographs and identifying information on these flash drives, parents save precious time and ensure that authorities can start the search effort immediately. The sooner a search begins, the quicker a missing child can be found and brought home.”

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said, “The Houston Texans are proud to support this very important initiative that will help protect children. Texans fans and parents alike will be able to take home the newest technology that will make this vital information accessible to law enforcement should they need it to locate a missing child.”

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Child ID video

When a child goes missing, law enforcement authorities need quick access to information that helps investigators identify the missing child. The flash drives, which were distributed by Attorney General Abbott and officers with the Cyber Crimes Unit, ensure that parents have critically important information readily available in the event the worst happens. Funding for the drives was made possible by Dell Inc., McAfee, AT&T and Microsoft Corp., all of which made generous contributions to NCMEC.

Each flash drive stores identifying information about up to 10 children. Parents can use the flash drives to download essential identifying information, including: recent digital photos, height, weight, address, e-mail addresses, parents’ names and other important details. In the event of an emergency, the flash drives are designed to provide quick information access to law enforcement authorities, who can use the stored information to quickly publish Amber Alerts and launch other community assistance efforts. Nationwide, the Amber Alert system has saved the lives of nearly 400 children.

According to the Texas Missing Persons Clearinghouse, 58,285 Texas children were reported missing in 2007. The U.S. Dept. of Justice ranks Texas second in the nation, behind California, in the number of child abductions from non-family members. An estimated 115 children are victims of “stereotypical kidnappings by strangers or individuals of slight acquaintance.”
Judy Roach, Executive Director for NCMEC’s Texas office, praised Attorney General Abbott’s initiative: “Parents often feel helpless when a child goes missing, and these flash drives give them a powerful tool to take control of a desperate situation. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Attorney General Abbott in the fight to protect Texas children.”

Today’s flash drive initiative is another in a series of child protection efforts by Attorney General Abbott. In 2003, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which protects children from online sexual exploitation. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators often work closely with NCMEC to respond to cybertips regarding sex predators who sexually solicit children online or download child pornography.

Attorney General Abbott also launched the Fugitive Unit in 2003, which locates sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children. Together, the Cyber Crimes Unit and Fugitive Unit have arrested more than 700 sex offenders, and prosecutors have obtained child pornography convictions against more than 80 men. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators also have traveled to schools and communities statewide to offer educational cyber safety programs.

In May 2006, Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention to establish an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The Texas Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project. To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to protect Texas children, visit www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.