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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
15th Annual Congressional Breakfast
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Washington, DC

       Thank you, Ernie. It's great to be here this morning, and I'm thrilled to be part of this important annual event.

       I'm also pleased to join in honoring these professionals who've worked so heroically on behalf of our nation's children - and to sing the praises of a brave girl who managed to keep her head when a lot of adults would have frozen in fear. What they've done is truly remarkable.

       When I read what happened to Xochil and how courageously she reacted, it reminded me how quickly too many children get initiated into the complex - and sometimes unsettling - world of adulthood. And it reminded me that, despite what we say to our kids about how important it is that they enjoy their childhood, growing up too fast is not always a matter of their choice. We want our kids to be carefree and innocent - but too often, they're exposed to events that strip them of that innocence.

       The National Survey on Children Exposed to Violence commissioned by our Juvenile Justice Office tells us that 60 percent of children are exposed to violence - either directly or indirectly - every year. One in 10 suffers some form of child maltreatment, and 1 in 16 is victimized sexually. These findings are disturbing and should serve as a wake-up call to all of us.

       I'm so grateful that there are dedicated professionals in law enforcement, like those being honored today, who are working to protect the fragile sanctity of childhood. And we are fortunate that we have the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other committed organizations and individuals who work, day in and day out, to keep America's children safe.

       I'm also proud to work for an Attorney General who understands our justice system's responsibility to children. And Eric Holder not only understands our responsibilities, he views the Justice Department as both supporter and partner of state and local law enforcement in fulfilling those responsibilities.

       I'm pleased that my agency - particularly, our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention - plays an important role in those efforts, through initiatives like the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program and through our many efforts to find missing children and to prevent and respond to child exploitation and abductions. It gives me great pride to know that our resources are going to support outstanding professionals like the ones we honor today.

       On behalf of the Department of Justice, I congratulate them on their awards, and I thank them for all they do on behalf of children.

       Thank you.

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