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Protect Your Kids from Sex Offenders

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Though sex-offender John Albert Gardner III had been jailed before, he was roaming the streets a free man when he allegedly raped and murdered high-school student Chelsea King. As parents, there are things we can do to protect our kids.

chelsea king and john albert gardner III

Chelsea King, a 17-year-old high-school student, was jogging in a San Diego park when she was reportedly raped and murdered by John Albert Gardner III. In 2000, Gardner had pled guilty to molesting a 13-year-old girl -- for which he served just five years in jail.

Trudy Dana, of the Lynnwood, WA. Police Department's Crime Prevention Center, has been working in the field of child safety for 35 years and has written two books on the subject. She has this good advice for momlogic parents:

Recognize the real risks. Abduction by a stranger isn't one of them. According to law enforcement, more than 90 percent of abduction cases involve someone the child knows. Though you can't ignore the possibility of a stranger grabbing your child, it's not likely to happen.

Reassure your kids. Talk to them. Tell them, "This will probably never happen to you, honey, but should a man pull up in a car and try to grab you, shout and holler as best you can."

Don't instill fear in your kids. It will do more harm than good. If they inquire about something happening to a child, communicate openly -- but try to stay away from saying scary things like, "If you play alone in the backyard, someone might get you."

Role-play with your children. Say that a man in a suit who's driving a nice car pulls over with a map and tells your child, "I'm late. Can you help me?" Most of the time, kids will go to the car. Abductors have "hooks" to lure children in: "I have a lost dog;" "Look at these puppies," etc. Tell kids about these situations and teach them to leave immediately! Always role-play that a man is the offender, because almost all sex-offenders are men.

Keep computers and telephones out of your kids' rooms. Especially if they're teenagers! Leave computers in family areas.

Talk to your kids about surfing the Web. Be open, so they'll communicate with you. For example, say something like, "Sometimes if you type in something, a picture of a naked person may show up. If that happens, don't worry. Just tell Mommy, OK?"

Tell your child not to volunteer information. They should never give out info about themselves via the Internet. Educate them about the fact that people online lie, lie, lie.

Be involved. If your child does have a computer in his or her room, keep the door open and make frequent visits. Find a million reasons to go in and out of that room.

Know where your kids are going. Create parameters for the neighborhood: Set areas that are off-limits.

Take neighborhood precautions. If you know that a registered sex-offender lives in the area, don't alarm your kids. Just calmly say something like, "Honey, we're not going to visit that house when we sell Girl Scout Cookies, OK?"

Don't let them exercise alone. Does your teenager, like Chelsea King, run or exercise outside? Tell her to carry pepper spray, to know where she's running and to always bring a cell phone along. Better yet, go with her: Follow her on a bike or in the car.

Use caution in public places. Don't drop your child off at a public place alone; make sure he or she always has adult accompaniment. (When kids are a little older, they can go in a group.) 

School your kids about strangers. Teach your children that you will never arrange for a stranger to pick them up -- they will always be picked up by someone they know. Tell them that if a stranger does try to pick them up from school, they make a fuss and alert a teacher.  (The offender will likely go away.)

Want more tips?

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53 comments so far | Post a comment now
mollysmom March 8, 2010, 2:13 PM

if he had been put down the first time this wouldn’t have happened. i don’t understand how child molesters are allowed to live much less serve a couple of years and let back out to repeat. i truly believe once a child molester is found guilty he should be killed and i don’t care about how he can “change”, he has changed the childs live forever that he assaulted so he should deal with the consequences.

cindy March 8, 2010, 4:16 PM

VERY GOOD TIPS! My heart is broken for Chelsea King. I wish she had a TASER and tased him repeatedly over and over until his screams got him caught or he had a heart attack and died. We know there are other victims too! Good point-
“Don’t let them exercise alone. Does your teenager, like Chelsea King, run or exercise outside? Tell her to carry pepper spray, to know where she’s running and to always bring a cell phone along. Better yet, go with her: Follow her on a bike or in the car.”

Pepper Spray, stun gun or TASER… Something…
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mollysmomisright March 9, 2010, 6:53 AM

People like these offenders aren’t rehabiliated, that desire is still there and they quite simply don’t desrve oxygen—

CFCOklahoma March 9, 2010, 10:03 AM

Politicians can write all the laws you want. They will not prevent anyone from committing a crime, if they are determined to do so. In fact, the harsh laws encourage the killing of a victim, because dead people cannot testify. Unless there is some kind of evidence to direct investigators to the Perp. So, how do you tell who might be dangerous? While nothing is 100 percent in this world, we must concentrate on the most dangerous.

1. The VIOLENT offender.

2. The REPEAT offender.

3. The offender who DID NOT KNOW their victim.

If you notice. The vast majority of these most heinous sexual assaults, fall into 1 or all three categories. We are wasting all the resources on the low to no risk while the predators are hiding in the registry.

This is so simple and so to the point! When people say, “Well, we can’t get rid of the register, what do you think we should do?” Answer, if we need a public register at all, and I truly don’t think the public has proven that they can handle it, then the only ones on it should be those that fell into the categories above!

California has a HUGE amount of registered sex offenders. Punishing all of them for the acts of one individual does not make sense.

He and he alone should be punished. If found guilty, he and he alone should suffer the consequences of this murder.

That’s supposed to be the American Justice system.

Sexual abuse is a complicated and difficult topic - for all included. Our hearts go out to all survivors and their families. In supporting and advocating for improvements and changes in laws for those who have sexually offended or been charged with sex abuse, our intent is not to demean those impacted by the actions. Our goal, as should be everyone’s goal, is for prevention and for an environment that makes everyone more healthy and safe.

VDog March 12, 2010, 5:46 PM

Interesting. But the fact is, virtually every study done to date, including one done by the Dept. of Justice has shown that 1: SO’s have the lowest recidivism rate (13.4% for sex crimes) of all convicted felon except murder. The average amongst felons is over 46% 2: Residency restrictions and work place restrictions have absolutely no effect on recidivism , and 3: While the statement is always, as John said “protecting children from molestation” or “If we protect only one child…” the fact is the public registries recklessly endanger the lives of not only the offender, but his children, family, friends and work place associates. Do you have any idea what it’s like to see a friends child come home from school beaten within an inch of his life because his mother (or father) is on the registry for something that did not even evolve a child?

Of course we still have not addressed the fact that 95% of all child abuse cases involve someone in their home such as a parent, relative, guardian or trusted friend or associate. A child is 1900% more likely to be assaulted in his own home than by a stranger, much less a person on the registry. He is 10,000 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver. But attacking those issues is not as sexy and does not get the pandering politicians near enough sensationalist media exposure. Why address the real issues or really address child safety if it wont help get you elected?

Christiee March 29, 2010, 1:18 AM

I’m very disappointed with pretty much every article that I’ve read so far on this website. But this issue, I think is far more important than many like to see.

I think it’s sad that even this article, although they state “Recognize the real risks. Abduction by a stranger isn’t one of them. According to law enforcement, more than 90 percent of abduction cases involve someone the child knows”
They then go on to talk about the ways your kids and teens can be safe against strangers. BTW even as an adult, I would not want my mother,or anyone to follow me around in a car while I jogged, that’s just weird, and probably very embarrassing for any teen. I’d imagine getting teased for having a paranoid parent. Also on having a taser or cellphone, I imagine if she knew or thought that guy was going to do something to her, she could of just turned and run. As in, I’d imagine it happens to fast & unexpectedly
people, parents, especially, need to focus more on family threats. Especially for younger kids, because they don’t know whats wrong or right, and by the time they’re old enough to understand it, the way our legal system works, after you turn 21, nothing really counts,so there is never really have any consequences. It’s hard to even say or think about it. Also my husband asked me once, if I had any female friends that hadn’t been molested, and for the most part, I think almost everyone I’ve gotten close to has said that they have at some point. I just think, it happens a whole lot more often than people like to think. There just seems no stopping it.

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