Oprah's contribution towards the USA National Child Protection Act of 1993
As a survivor of rape and sexual abuse herself, Oprah Winfrey is aware of the various short and long-term effects that childhood sexual abuse can have on a child’s psyche. Her commitment towards preventing abuse and healing those who have endured it has been effective on many levels. From highlighting the struggles of survivors of abuse and sharing her own personal story, Oprah has successfully brought out the issue of sexual crimes against children and the urgent need to address it through her show. The Oprah Winfrey Show is one of the most popular talk shows in the world with a weekly viewership count of 44 million; it is broadcast in 140 countries. Each abuse awareness themed episode therefore reaches out to at least a fraction of the world. Among her many endorsements of Senate Bills and child protection policies, Oprah initiated a campaign with the objective of creating a national database of convicted child abusers. Her doing so was based on facts and statistics gathered throughout the country which showed an alarming increase in child predators, who slipped under the radar undetected after committing acts of violence, due to there being no tracking system which could help detect them. The issue of child predators crossing states in order to abuse children was also brought forward. Upon realizing that this issue would increase without a consolidated effort at identifying and registering predators, Oprah initiated the Oprah Bill in 1991, where she brought forward her appeal for the establishment of a national database of convicted child abusers. She testified in the presence of a US Senate Judiciary Committee; and the Bill was signed in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. It became the National Child Protection Act of 1993, and is currently available to law enforcement agencies and related agencies in all 50 states in America. Apart from her creation and contribution towards the actual bill, Oprah made it her priority to consistently develop and promote campaigns which highlighted the need for greater action against child predators. In 2005, Oprah’s “Predator Watch List” combined the results of the database which was developed thanks to the National Child Protection Act, and highlighted up to 12 predators who were listed and on the run. The watch list was then highlighted in various episodes where mug shots of featured predators, along with details of their crimes and preferred hideouts were mentioned. A cautionary advisory was also issued which instructed viewers to immediately contact law making authorities if they chanced upon any of the predators. A reward of $100,000 was offered for viewers who successfully turned in a predator. The watch list was a success, resulting in the arrest and conviction of 9 predators that were featured on the show. Oprah’s overall contribution towards the passing of an important Act which served to collate national level information about dangerous child predators, and subsequent efforts at capturing predators are testimony to her influence and effectiveness at tackling the issue of childhood sexual abuse.