Using Technology to Protect Children

We live in an age when science and technology are rapidly finding solutions to our greatest human problems. Yet, while billions are invested in attacking disease, famine and environmental threats, the protection of children has been left behind.

Since 2006, the National Association to Protect Children has been the leading national voice for harnessing technology to detect and stop child abuse and exploitation and improve the way children are protected. We’ve worked with Congress and federal agencies, recruited scientists and private industry and fostered technological innovation in the law enforcement and tech communities.

The work of our legislative arm, PROTECT, focuses primarily on increasing public spending on applied technological solutions to child exploitation and abuse.*

Weiss Center Established

The Weiss Center for Child Rescue and Protection Technology was established in 2012, in honor of long-time PROTECT member and supporter Debbie Weiss. It embodies her determination to arm counter-child-exploitation professionals with the tools they need to stop child exploitation on an historic scale. The Center has funded basic research and development, provided equipment and software for law enforcement and launched the H.E.R.O. Child-Rescue Corps training program.

Research and Development

The Weiss Center's R&D efforts focus heavily on developing practical tools for detecting and interdicting child exploitation, and for identifying and locating child victims. The National Association to Protect Children believes strongly that interdiction of child exploitation is a governmental function, and does not disseminate technology outside of law enforcement. In recent years, technology development projects have included work on law enforcement information-sharing and deconfliction systems, secure law enforcement image repositories, computer forensic processing, investigative protocols and tool development.

H.E.R.O. Child-Rescue Corps Training

In 2013, the Weiss Center launched a major new emphasis on training for counter-child-exploitation professionals. The program developed the training curriculum for the H.E.R.O. Child-Rescue Corps, a joint project of the National Association to Protect Children, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Special Operations Command. Students in the HERO Corps' training complete four weeks of training in counter-child-exploitation by nationally recognized experts and receive Weiss Center certification, in conjunction with intensive computer forensics training at ICE's Cyber Crimes Center. The National Association to Protect Children is currently working with higher education providers to secure academic accreditation for Weiss Center training.

Child Protection Technology

In addition to counter-child-exploitation, or child-rescue technology, the Weiss Center is committed to advancing technology that can be used to protect children in the child protection and justice systems. Currently, the Center's work focuses on developing innovative ways of securing and analyzing data, in coordination with our Sunlight and Transparency project. Future work will include technologies to track children through the child protection system and improve communication between child-serving public agencies.

* Neither PROTECT nor the National Association to Protect Children accepts government funding