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My Neighbors, the Sex Offenders

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Guest blogger Kourtney: As I was driving up the highway with my 10-year-old daughter the other day, we noticed an "Amber Alert" posted on electronic signs between exits. "Child Abduction," it read. "Black Honda LIC XXX-XXX." My daughter asked me what it meant. 

Taking advantage of a teachable moment, I told her about "Amber," the girl who had been abducted and murdered (for whom the Amber Alert was named). I'd explained the whole "stranger-danger" thing before, but this time I was blunt: "Strangers can do some pretty horrible things," I said.

I explained (again) the importance of not trusting strangers, of never talking to or going off with one and of fighting like hell if one tried to physically force her into a car (or physically force her to do anything). It wasn't an easy conversation, but I would rather that she be scared than unprepared. As parents, we never think our own child could be abducted; it's always something that happens to someone else. But it does happen -- and I can think of nothing worse than some deranged person kidnapping and harming one of my children.

woman infront of computer

When we got home that night, I checked the sex-offender website to see if any lived near us. Chances are, I thought, there'd be one or two. But I was disturbed to find out that there are SEVEN within a one-mile radius -- and two of them are IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. (As in, one street over in each direction!) 

OK, I realize that these people have to live somewhere. But having them this close is too close -- especially since I live two blocks from an elementary school (which both my kids attend) and from a park (which my kids play in). How are these people allowed to live so near to so many children? Of all the places to choose to live ... they live by a school and a park?! It seems suspicious to me. I can't help but think of a couple of starving wolves pacing around the henhouse, licking their chops.

I called the school's principal and the director of the park and asked them if they were aware of these creeps -- and what they were doing to protect the children from them. Both were aware of them, and also knew their addresses, their names and what they looked like. This made me feel better, but still -- the fact remains that there are these dangerous pervs living way too close for comfort. 

Besides educating my kids about them, what else can I do? I would appreciate some advice. Do any of you have sex offenders living near you? What have you done to protect your kids?


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25 comments so far | Post a comment now
Trish June 15, 2010, 3:34 AM

Stranger Danger is such a worry. With my child beginning kindy this year I started frantically hunting around for any teaching material to help me discuss the subject. In the end I wrote my own.

If you would like to listen my free read through of my book please visit http://www.newmothersandbabies.com/

Take care,
Trish

Passing through June 15, 2010, 5:03 AM

Most sex offenders abuse their own children. Which is another way of saying that the greatest danger to children is not strangers — it is one of their parents, and overwhelmingly (but not only) the male of the household.

Sad to say, these offenders can be “nice” people on the outside.

The lesson? Well, it’s not that you should suspect all parents, but you should be attentive to warning signs.

David June 15, 2010, 5:19 AM

All the attention given to registered sex offenders gives a distorted perception of the more likely perpetrators of sex crimes against children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93% of children who are victims of sexual abuse are victimized by family members or acquaintances. 94% of those arrested for the sexual molestation of children in New York State are first time offenders who are not listed on any registry. To put it another way, if a child has been the victim of sexual abuse, the odds are 4 in 1,000 that the child was victimized by a stranger who is a registered sex offender. The odds are far greater, 874 in 1,000, that the child was victimized by a family member or acquaintance who is not listed on the sex offender registry. The primary effect of sex offender registries is to give the public a false sense of security or, conversely, to raise hysteria.

Mary of Virginia June 15, 2010, 6:46 AM

Kourtney,

Interesting how you called the registered offenders “pervs”.
Obviously you need to be educated on how easily you, your spouse and your children could be labeled Sex Offender in America today.
Also Residency Restrictions actually drive registered offenders underground and make them homeless. Today you know where they live and the park and the school know who they are. The “not in my backyard” mentality that pushes registered offenders out of their homes actually puts society in more danger. There have been scores of studies over numerous years that prove where a registered offender lives and works has no correlation in if they will reoffend. But if they are homeless and unemployed with nothing to lose then their chances to re-offend skyrocket.

We have links to these studies and reports on our web-site.

Your finger pointing, name calling hate drive editorial has no basis. Do your homework next time.

Mary
RSOL of Virginia
rsolvirginia.org



Black Iris June 15, 2010, 7:40 AM

Thank you David, for your reminder of the real danger. The best way to protect your kids is to keep them away from relatives and family friends who are known to have abused children. Sadly, people are often reluctant to do this - the guys really are nice people. Nobody wants to believe it. Telling your kids about stranger danger is not enough, you need to tell them they have the right to say no to ANYONE. As for the registered offenders in your neighborhood, avoid them. Just don’t think that makes you safe.

Tracy June 15, 2010, 7:41 AM

Others are right to point out that you need to teach your kids that anyone who crosses personal space boundries or acts inappropriately is a danger to them, whether relative, friend or stranger. I have taught my kids to listen to their intuition—if someone gives them the creeps or makes them uncomfortable, get away!

For the predators in your neighborhood, I would show the kids their pictures and say, “This man is dangerous, he lives on that street and don’t go anywhere near him”. I know that sometimes the registry is too broad, but better safe than sorry with your kids.

Christina  June 15, 2010, 7:50 AM

I have a real problem with “Stranger Danger”. As the people who posted above me mentioned, the likelihood of your child being abducted or molested by a stranger is very low. But the likelihood of both by a family member, coach, family friend, etc is too high. Strangers are also doctors, firefighters, policemen, the nice ladies at the mall who will help you if you lose your mommy. I tell my girls that Monsters are real, but they look just like everyone else. You can’t SEE a Monster, but you can FEEL one with your heart and your mind. GOD will help you FEEL the Monster. If you FEEL uncomfortable or weird at all with ANYONE, Get away. You don’t have to talk to, hug or be around anyone who makes your FEEL “weird”. Trust your heart and brain to tell you who to trust. And many studies show that kids who are scared, not confident and won’t look grownups in the eye are TARGETED by the Monsters in our society. Strong willed, confident children who speak proudly and openly and know how to say “NO!” are not targeted. I’ve gone rounds with my preschool about this. STOP telling my kids to be AFRAID!!

Tenika June 15, 2010, 10:51 AM

I don’t think it can be stressed enough how important it is not to lump all sex offenders into the child molester category! “Sex offender” has a broad definition & can include & stigmatize the 16 year old boy that had consensual sex with his 16 year old girlfriend or a parent falsely accused of molestation by a vengeful ex with no evidence or even a guy who is a sexual predator but was convicted of raping an adult. It is better safe than sorry but there’s hardly anything worse for a person to be accused of being than someone who sexually molests children except being someone FALSELY labeled as being someone that sexually molests children.

Rita June 15, 2010, 11:39 AM

Wow, momlogic really doesn’t mind if their bloggers don’t do any research on their articles, do they?

Sex offenders aren’t all pedophiles, you know.

A sex offender can be the 18 y.o. boy who had consensual sex with his 17 y.o. girlfriend and her mother found out, pressed charges against the boy, and now his life is ruined because he is classified as a “sex offender” now.

A sex offender can be a drunk man who made a poor decision and urinated on a public street in the middle of the night.

A sex offender can be a 15 year old GIRL who sent a naked picture of herself to her 15 year old boyfriend and he shared it with his friends and it somehow made it to an adult, who decided to press child porn charges on the 15 year old girl and boy.

In today’s world, it’s very, very easy for someone to be labeled as a sex offender.

However, as parents, we do need to be aware of the REAL sex offenders out there, who are likely to strike again, who like to expose themselves to little children, who actively pursue children and watch them to see who their next victim will be. As parents, we need to let our children know of stranger danger from the time they learn to walk and talk.

They really need to change the levels of sex offenders to color-coded so it’s easier for people to understand, i.e. Green=No danger, (Consensual teenage sex, teen sexting, etc) to Red=Major most likely to offend again (sex with children, raping woman, etc).

I know a few people who are labeled as sex offenders but what was their crime? Having consensual teenage sex. The label has ruined their lives over something most teens are doing. They have families now, but its hard for them to get a job. They are in no way attracted to children, they’ve never laid a violent hand on anyone, but their life is ruined now, all due to some politicians who want another vote.

www.familywatchdog.us is a website where you can search for sex offenders in your city and neighborhood for free and you can also see what their crime was, how old the victim was, so on and so forth, and that website IS color-coded so it’s easier to understand.

Please, please do some research before freaking out because you found out a sex offender is living near you. For all you know, it’s the guy who had consensual teen sex 20 years ago.

Pay attention to your gut feeling when you meet someone, anyone. If your gut is telling you to run, then that person probably isn’t the one you should be talking to.

Tell your children to always be aware of their surroundings, to watch for suspicious people or cars.

And lastly, most children are sexually abused by someone they know and trust, like a family member, a parent of a friend, teacher, doctor, etc. It’s not always a stranger.

You shouldn’t be scared all the time, but you do need to always, always be careful.

Rita June 15, 2010, 11:41 AM

One more thing, the Amber Alert warning isn’t always a sex offender who took a child. It’s almost always a non-custodial parent (sometimes even the mother) who took the child, or it could be the teen who ran away from home, or the teen who ran away with her older boyfriend.

greg55 June 15, 2010, 2:15 PM

I have a good way for Kourtney to correct this issue she has brought to our attent. Seeing these sex offenders are obeying the law and the restritions forced on them by these unjust laws nothing can be done…unless they are not in compliance with the law. I have to assume they are or the But you may want to concider that the registry is growing larger and larger everyday with the laws that are in place…so no matter where you live you will have a sex offender as a neighbor…Maybe Kourtney should concider this if the registry only had the truly dangerous offender listed on it and not the names of ever person caught for peeing in public,streaking, mooning someone, taking pictures of there kids in the bath tub,breast feeding there baby in public or the teens that had sex in the back seat of a car…she may not have sex offenders as neighbors….I read resently that less then 15% of the names on the registry are truly the dangerous ones….these are the ones we all should fear but the way its being done to list all only adds to the confussion and hysteria….OH MY GOD A SEX OFFENDER LIVES NEXT DOOR….mentality

Krista June 15, 2010, 3:08 PM

I live in Canada and here criminals are protected. There is no such list for the public to view, only the police are allowed to view list. I hope this will change soon and we can see a list and protect our children!

XXXX June 15, 2010, 3:30 PM

they’re in every neighborhood can’t get away from them

Mary Lewis  June 15, 2010, 11:29 PM

Until I did some research on this topic, I too felt “sex Offenders” were predators but I discovered that this “registry” has become so broadly defined that many many good people and there children are suffering a living hell, it is eerily reminiscent of the witch trials of the 1700’s.

Admittedly there are some real predators that need to be watched but the list is so large now that the real predators are diluted by a sea of mostly good people. Take a look at this article from Physiology today regarding just one such case. It could be argued that the children of these non predatory offenders suffer as a social stigma and withdrawal if they were a victim of one of the real predictors.

Article summary:
“My husband is on the sex offender registry in Illinois, for 15 years for having a consensual relationship with me, his wife, when I was 16. He is lumped in with pedophiles, rapists and the worst kind of perverts. We have three children and my husband cant keep a job (he has a P.H.D), he cant pick up our kids from school, we’ve been thrown out of our home twice because we live by a school and police monitor our home. Why in Gods name isn’t any common sense prevailing around this issue and when do we start letting people off the registry who are not a public threat? “

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/look-it-way/201005/some-really-scary-sex

greg55 June 16, 2010, 12:07 AM

Mary Lewis to answer your question “why isn’t common sense prevailing around the sex offender issues.”
Well you have news agencies profiting by keeping this hysteria alive. You have web base business profiting by this hysteria as people flock to there sites to check if a sex offender lives next door.(and it don”t matter if that neighbor had lived there next to them for 20 years he is suddenly a monster) you have politicians getting re-elected as a result of the hysteria…look how tuff I am on crime re-elect me.
And the list of list can go on and on..this is why…..and maybe because society in general has become so full of anger and hatred that they need a whipping boy to take all there pend up frustrations on, Who better then a sex offender…all this that is going on will go down in the history books someday right along side of other great American accomplishments..Salem Witch hunts, the internment of Japanese American citizens in prison camps during the war….and will surly rank up there next to the Nazi’s and what they did to the Jews

Jane D. June 16, 2010, 1:23 AM

There are those that made a serious mistake and will pay the rest of their lives for it under registration. It does go all the way up the food chain. No one in any position or status is immune from commiting this type of crime. The same person that says ” not me” or “never in a million years” has and can be the next one on the List! Your child may be friends with a Father or Mother that ended up in that position. They paid for their crime and deserve the right to re-build their lives and provide for their familes. The laws regarding this matter were put into place because of vicious sexual crimes. Looking at child porn for example is illegal and rightfully so, however, does the person or parent that did it have to lose their dignity and way of life for the rest of their lives? Is it really necessary to inform the whole world that little Lisa’s daddy is labled and brought to shame the rest of their lives? Some of these offenders are good people who made a mistake. Don’t ever completly judge an offender. You may never know or suspect that very person you see as a productive and sincere individual, a good parent, a church member, even a good friend may be on the list unless it came to your attention in some way. Would you still see them the same way if it did? Politicians are preying on the good fortune this issue brings. It’s an easy subject to exploit, all under the guise of protecting our kid’s. This slap happy law is creating more problems than it will ever fix.

greg55 June 16, 2010, 2:42 AM

JANE D.I agree fullheartedly with all you said…with one exception…yoou said church member. And that cann’t be the case any more you see churches are areas where sex offenders can no longer go…..they are even deprived of there religions freedoms on top of everything else.


Sarah Batty June 16, 2010, 10:52 AM

To be registered as a sex offender, you could have done as little as pick up a prostitute or be caught in a brothel… I doubt those kind of people will harm your kids…

Grow up and get the facts. Sex offender is a scary set of words, but learn what it means before you go all crazy!

Jenn June 17, 2010, 6:51 PM

I’ve noticed that a lot of posts are complaining about how easy it is to become labeled as a sex offender, inability to go to church if you are one, etc.. I agree that in the case of a teen having sex with a teen a year younger is ridiculous, but most sex offenders are really sexual predators.

If you research online, you can find out exactly what the person did do. In a search on one website, I found a sex offender living 440 FEET from my daughters’ school. He is convicted of child rape, and twice of child molestation. My husband’s ex-best friend married a woman who was a sex offender. She lied about why she was labeled as one and later we saw online that she had raped her own daughter. When she later broke her own parole, she went back to prison. Upon returning to the community, she tried to sign up as a childcare worker in our church. Thankfully, they do background checks. Yes, she’s still welcome there, but they do require her to be accompanied by another adult - of her own choosing - while she is at the church and she is not allowed near the childcare areas.

What I am trying to say is that, yes, sometimes ppl are placed on that status unfairly. And, yes, we should do research on why they are labeled one. However, it is also important to realize that sexual predators do exist, can seem wonderfully nice and innocent, and try to find ways to be near children. In my case, I do worry about the sex offender near our school. It would not be hard for an adult to sneak near the playground area and try to tempt a child away. I understand that they need to have a place to live and rebuild their lives, but I’m not willing to put children in any danger for them to do so.

Here is a site that will help you locate what offenders are nearby and what convictions led to their status: http://www.familywatchdog.us It will also send you an update if a sex offender moves in or out of your neighborhood.

Caylin June 20, 2010, 11:30 AM

Hey i am Ten years old and i searched it and it said that i had 9 sex offenders in my neighborhood and i am scared to tell my parents…


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