Child Pornography Epidemic
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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.
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.
"[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.
Watch as Maureen and Chuck offer advice to concerned audience members.
Read the producer's blog about this show
12 things you can do to be safer online