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Vatican official says strong families will protect children

While national laws and international policing, especially of child pornographers using the Internet, are essential in the fight against sexual exploitation of children, the first defence is to strengthen families, a Vatican representative said.

The combination of poverty and weak family relations often explains why children are involved in 'sex tourism' or become the victims of trafficking," said Janne Haaland Matlary, the Vatican representative to the recent World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

The Vatican released the text of Matlary's remarks to the congress on 22 December. The meeting, held in Yokohama, Japan, was organised by UNICEF and co-sponsored by the Japanese government and ECPAT International, a network of organizations working to stop the sexual exploitation of children.