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.