Internet Predators on Oprah

Today’s blog is written by Sara Brueck Nichols, Director of Public Relations for Operation Kids.

Yesterday, on Oprah, the entire show focused on fighting Internet predators. I’m not a regular Oprah watcher, but because of Operation Kids’ involvement this fall in creating awareness around Internet Safety and raising funds for programs to keep kids safe both online and off, I watched it.

It made my stomach knot.

After month of researching Internet Safety tips and learning more about the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforces, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and McGruff Safehouse Network – the charities we’re working to benefit with this fall’s gala – I thought I could handle the statistics that Oprah was bringing up, but each one nearly knocked the wind out of me.

  • Law enforcement is only able to investigate about 2% of the child pornography leads they receive, due to lack of adequate funding.
  • According to Interpol statistics, only one-half of 1% of online child predators are ever prosecuted.
  • At NCMEC, 50 analysts screen between 100,000 and 200,000 image and video files of child pornography to help law enforcement officials track down the victims and the predators.
  • 15,000 images of child pornography are traded online every day, according to Flint Waters, commander of the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
  • In the past two years, 300,000 to 500,000 computers have sent child porn images in the United States – and those are just the ones that are trackable.
  • Studies say that 30 to 40 percent of those who view child porn online are also molesters

Each statistic was more harrowing than the last. Each one made me stop and think about the number of children hurt in these situations.

And each one reminded me that, as a parent myself, there is a lot of work to be done. We’re only just beginning.

I am excited to see this topic get some coverage this fall – to continue the discussion among organizations, law enforcement, parents and the media. I am excited to see tips to keep kids safe online listed on Oprah’s site. I am happy to see that there is currently legislation pending to increase money and technology support to federal law enforcement officials (see here for more info). I was glad to learn that the public can now donate resources to Utah’s ICAC – one of the most efficient and effective in the country – to help them increase their staff and technological capabilities.

We are also working to get the word out. A couple of weeks ago, Rick posted some tips to keep kids safe online.  We are also live streaming a portion of our annual gala this year – the tribute concert by Collin Raye , to increase awareness and activism around this issue (see here on how to view the concert for free). We are working with our media partners, Fox and MediaOne to help bring the issue to light here in our area. And we trust that our readers and supporters will help in creating a sense of activism around this as well.

Most importantly, is our continual vigilance and support as parents – knowing with whom our kids associate, with whom they are conversing online and teaching them caution and awareness of the world around them.

I am still haunted by the images in this episode. There is a lot going on, but we have so much further to go. And even one more child is one more child too many.

Like everyone else at Operation Kids, I am continuing to work until every child is OK.



Filed under Initiative: Children's Issues

2 responses to “Internet Predators on Oprah

  1. nvestigating Internet crimes against children:Seeking a new law enforcement paradigm

    Dr. Frank Kardasz

    For the first time in history, law enforcement officers in the 21st century possess proactive methods to
    identify and bring to justice those who sexually abuse minors. In years past, law enforcement had to wait
    for reports of child abuse before investigations could begin. But today, using innovative undercover
    techniques and the Internet, investigators can proactively seek out and apprehend offenders. Although this
    is one of the greatest advancements in the history of the enforcement of crimes against children,
    investigators still cannot take full advantage of the innovations. This work explores some of the
    stakeholders in the cyber-struggle and the troubling reasons that more resources are not devoted to the
    growing problem. The work explores legal, systemic, societal and psychological hurdles related to Internet
    crimes against children and suggests a new law enforcement paradigm that better recognizes such

    to read more on this subject Google: Investigating Internet crimes against children:
    Seeking a new law enforcement paradigm

  2. Janet Franji

    Hello, unfortunately with the lack of funds available many law enforcement folks find themselves without money to do the job the way they want. Parents MUST watch what their children are viewing on the internet ( I changed to Safewave for my children) .
    It is a scary internet world. Every time I hear about another predator ( weren’t they called pedophiles) it sickens me. Oprah’s show brought out the incredible swift nature of how these people operate, of how they view our children as prey – to use and kill. I cannot even think about it.

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