Recent events have made us more aware of the presence of sexual offenders in our midst. From rapists to child molesters, they seem to lurk in every dark alley and around every corner. In some cases, sexual offenders can even hide in the most unlikely of places. Right next door to you, perhaps? In your child’s school? Your local church? Your family?
So how do we ferret out these monsters? How do we keep our families safe, when the people next door could be child molesters? Fortunately, there are registries and organizations that track these fiends. Laws are made to protect our children, stating that child molesters must register and declare where they are living. In many cases, they are not allowed to move anywhere within a certain distance from schools, playgrounds, or anywhere else that children might congregate. Of course, this does not mean that they all follow these laws. Staying on your toes and keeping track of your children are essential to combating the bad elements out there in the world.
It wasn’t very long ago when I received a flier in my mail, showing a mug shot of a good-looking young man in his early 20’s. He looked like an average guy-next-door; clean cut and pleasant in appearance, the type that you would trust, most likely, if you met him on the sidewalk. Emblazoned across the top of the page, however, was a notice telling us to BEWARE in bright red letters. Curious, I read on.
Amazingly, this letter was from a local enforcement agency and urged us to contact the manager of our park and demand to know why a registered child molester was allowed to live in our midst, without our knowledge. A known child molester, in our all-ages park, filled with children. One can imagine the dry sensation that filled my mouth and the way my heart quickened. A known, registered offender in our midst, and we were not told this? I, and a plethora of angry adults, were soon on the phone and demanding to know what this was all about.
Following this discovery, my bubble of self-deluded safety had been burst and I found myself on the internet, attempting to find out how to further combat this issue. Fortunately, there are several online references that can be accessed, in order to check for known child molesters and sex offenders in your area. By simply entering your zip code, an easy search can reveal the names and addresses of registered sex offenders in your area (chances are that you will be amazed by the results). Additionally, some websites can also allow you to check your child’s school staff or other people, simply by entering their name into the database. A simple click and you have the individual‘s name, photograph, and last known address.
If you don’t have access to the internet, try contacting your local law enforcement agency and asking them what sort of listing/registry that they have available, regarding criminal sex offenders and child molesters. Also talk with people in local neighbourhood watches and see if they have been made aware of known sexual predators in your midst. If they have not, you may want to suggest their looking into it further and possibly setting up a community network.
Keeping our children and our loved ones safe is a top priority. Be sure you’re not kept in the dark. In cases like this, prevention is essential. Stress safety issues, good touch vs. bad touch, and abduction escape techniques with your children. You will thank yourself for it later.
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