How Many Sex Offenders Live On Your Block?

How to discover potential risks that may exist in your own neighborhood.

by Julie Joyce

For any parent, learning that a convicted sex offender lives on the same block, can be a chilling discovery. The thought of it alone, can be disturbing. Most parents can't imagine that someone, who could be so potentially dangerous, may live somewhere on their block or along the path their child takes to school. However, it is highly likely that there are registered sex offenders in your neighborhood.

Beginning in the mid 1990's legislative actions established guidelines for tracking convicted sex offenders and making such information available as part of a community notification effort. In 1994 the Jacob Wetterling Act began requiring states to register individuals convicted of sex crimes against children. The "Pam Lychner Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996" was enacted by Congress to provide for the nationwide tracking of convicted sexual predators. "Megan's Law" (1996) further served to clarify the public nature of information and authorized the release of relevant information that is necessary to protect the public. Together, these three key pieces of legislation have shaped the structure of sexual registries, nationwide. Today, almost every state maintains a registry of sexual offenders, and makes this information easily accessible via the internet. Some states may not allow online access. However, they will explain, online, the procedure to follow to gain access to their registry.

Currently there are approximately a half of a million registered sex offenders in the United States. They live in cities and towns all across the country. They are in "poor" and "affluent" neighborhoods. And they could be on your block. The twice-convicted pedophile who raped and murdered Megan (Megan's Law) Kanka lived across the street from her home. Every parent should make it a priority to do a quick search to educate themselves about potential risk exposures that may be "dangerously" close. It is commonly said that, "What you don't know can hurt you." But more importantly, what you do know can save your life!

As you search the various databases it is important to realize some important issues. Not all databases are complete. Some only have listings for a small time period. Others only list certain types of sex offenses. While these registries represent a noble effort to empower the community with access to information about dangerous individuals that may still pose a threat, they are by nature incomplete. Not all jurisdictions update and maintain them with the same level of commitment. And compliance to maintain them is not known. You must also realize that every "offender" had a first victim and not every offender is caught. Those offenders would not be listed on any registry or criminal database.

The FBI maintains links to the various state's registries. Access their links at: (http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/states.htm). However, surprisingly it is not the most up-to-date list available. The Klaas Kids site is a good site with extensive details about the types of offenders that appear on the various state's registries. Access their database at: (http://www.klaaskids.org/pg-legmeg.htm). And a newly updated link list has just been posted at the SafeKidsReport site, at: (http://www.SafeKidsReport.com).

For parents, access to this invaluable information will serve many goals. One, it will help families to identify potential risks in their own neighborhoods. Two, it will encourage parents to initiate defensive behavioral changes that may dramatically protect their children from predators. And third, it will inspire parents to educate their children about the dangers that exist and the safety strategies that will help to protect them from harm.



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About the Author

Julie Joyce is the Editor of "Safe Kids Report" - a newsletter dedicated to helping parents protect their kids from a variety of dangers. Parents can access Free Child ID Kits and other free family safety resources, at: http://www.SafeKidsReport.com



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