Most people think of the Internet as an innovation that allows them to stay in touch with friends, access information and stay entertained for hours. Sadly, there are also thousands of people across the country who use this technology for a more sinister purpose—trading child pornography.
It's estimated that more than 5 million pornographic pictures and videos of children are circulated on the Internet every day. "Part of the reason for this show is for us to be educated about what the word pornography really means," Oprah says.
To help Americans understand the severity of the problem, Lisa Ling travels to Milton, Florida, to document the arrest of a suspected child pornographer.
According to the Florida attorney general's office, law enforcement officers in this area are ramping up their fight against child sex abuse and rape on the Internet.
When Lisa arrives at the office's CyberCrime Unit, she meets Chief Chuck McMullen, the man leading this operation.
Chuck tells Lisa that the person they're after has been downloading and transmitting vile images of children being violently sexually abused.
"He's a higher-than-average user or possessor of child pornography," Chuck says. In just three weeks, police officers say they tracked more than 50 graphic images of child pornography to his home computer.
Though this bust is a step in the right direction, investigators say it won't even scratch the surface of this problem. Currently, the CyberCrime Unit is tracking thousands of cases in Florida alone.
Before heading to the suspect's home, Chuck warns Lisa that busts like this can be dangerous. To ensure the officers' safety, reinforcements are called in from across the state.
Lisa gets into the squad car and travels to the suspect's home, which looks like the others in this quiet neighborhood. Suddenly, the officers storm the front yard and enter the house, not knowing what they'll find inside.
Maureen Horkan, director of the Child Predator CyberCrime Unit, arrives on the scene and tells Lisa that pornography was being downloaded on a computer inside the home when the officers arrived.
"We have flat-out child pornography," she says. "[It's] child pornography that includes sexual conduct. Sexual conduct means penetration, means rape of children, means bondage with children. ... It can be some of the most horrific stuff."
After further investigation, the officers name the homeowners' 18-year-old son, a high school student, as their prime suspect. Officers pull him out of school and bring him home for questioning.
After searching the home, a forensic analyst tells Lisa they discovered several pornographic video files and homemade CDs containing graphic content in the teen's bedroom. They also confiscated four computers and multiple hard drives.
"These images show the rape and sexual torture of children in all varying stages," Chuck says. "I want the public to understand that these aren't just pictures."
The 18-year-old was arrested, but the next day, he was released on bond. He pled not guilty to multiple child pornography charges.
To help motivate people to take action, Oprah asks Maureen and Chuck to describe the images they confiscated in detail.
"I can, and I will," Maureen says. "I have to say, though, that really people might want to choose not to listen, because it's hard."
Oprah says the graphic details should be hard for people to hear. "We are supposed to hear it, and we are supposed to, where appropriate, see it because that is the only way it ever gets changed," she says. "It's one thing for us to hear it. It's another thing for children to have to endure it. I think for us to turn away, to not to listen, to not to observe, means you turn away from the problem."
Warning:The material on this page is graphic and not intended for children.
Maureen says the first video they found on the teen's computer featured a little girl who was 4 or 5 years old. "She is in a bedroom. There are other children on the bed as well, and she is bound from her hands. They're bound to her ankles by duct tape," she says. "There is an adult male in the room with no clothing on who begins to fondle her. The child is completely exposed, and there is no mistaking what is happening. The guy rapes her."
Chuck says the video lasts for more than 40 minutes. In this time, the child endures repeated penetration by an adult male, Maureen says.
Another video shows a young girl putting her mouth and hands on a dog's sexual organs. "There's a person shooting that from underneath the dog telling her: 'No, do it this way. No, do it again,'" Maureen says.
"This is what we mean by child pornography," Oprah says.
Chuck says the suspect's parents were shocked by their son's arrest. "They were amazed because the search warrant says words like 'child pornography' and 'digital images,' and they didn't have any idea, because they knew they weren't involved in that," he says. "Then, once we told them that it was their son, they were very saddened, as any parent would be."
Like most parents, Chuck says they want to protect their son, but they're also concerned about other children living in their home. "They have mixed emotions, obviously," he says. "They have other children in the house they also have to protect, so that puts them in a very difficult position."
Oprah Show producers attempted to contact the 18-year-old boy's attorney for comment and did not receive a response.
What do parents need to know to keep their children safe? First, Maureen says moms and dads need to be aware of how much volume is out there and understand what their children are doing on their computers.
"[Parents] have never been on some of these websites that children are on," she says. "They're on MySpace, Facebook. They're using computers constantly."
Maureen says parents can't tell their children what not to do if they don't know what they're talking about. To inform yourself and get resources, visit websites like SafeFlorida.net or MissingKids.com.
"I think the more knowledge we have about what's going on with predators and our children, the more we are prepared to take action against them," Oprah says.