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Talking Points for the Honorable Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
16th Annual Congressional Breakfast

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Wasington, DC

     Thank you, Ernie. I'm really delighted to be here. I've known Ernie for so many years, and I can't think of anyone who's done more in this country to protect our kids. This isn't just a job for Ernie, this is a passion.

     And I can't say enough, as well, about his wonderful staff. They're the best at what they do - and I'm so proud to be their partner.

     It's such a privilege to be here today to help honor these dedicated law enforcement professionals who work so hard to protect children. The work they do is truly extraordinary and they deserve our highest praise. To all of them, I say, "thank you!"

     And this brave girl, Onyka. How many of us could have done what she did? To go through so much, and to have the strength not only to recover, but to help the police find her abductor. Onyka, you are one remarkable girl!

     Onyka's story is a strong reminder to me - as I'm sure it is to all of us - of the reason we do the work we do. It's a source of great pride for me that I lead an agency dedicated to keeping children safe - and to supporting you, our partners in child protection.

     And I think we're fortunate that we have an Attorney General who understands and values the work you're doing.

     Eric Holder's commitment to kids is well-known - and - to be frank - it's very personal. Back when he was Deputy Attorney General in the 90s, he helped focus the Justice Department's efforts on children exposed to violence. And when he returned to the Department as Attorney General two years ago, he picked up right where he left off.

     Under his leadership now, we have a Department-wide Defending Childhood initiative aimed at preventing and reducing children's exposure to violence. We're also building on the Department's Project Safe Childhood Initiative to protect children from sexual exploitation.

     As part of that effort, we're supporting a network of 61 task forces under our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program, administered by Jeff Slowikowski and his terrific staff at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In fact, today, some of our staff have joined Ernie's staff at the joint ICAC-PSC conference to help train more than 1,200 law enforcement officers and prosecutors who work these missing and exploited children cases.

     We're also continuing our work with NCMEC to strengthen the AMBER Alert network. AMBER Alert has helped to rescue 540 children since 2003. And this year, I'm really excited that NCMEC announced a new partnership with Facebook to ensure that Facebook users receive geographically-targeted alerts. This represents what I think is an important expansion of the national AMBER Alert program - and a milestone in our efforts to protect America's kids.

     So we're making tremendous progress in our work to keep children safe - and we owe much of that to the people we honor today. On behalf of the Department of Justice, congratulations to all of you, and thank you again for all you do. ###

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