Whether you have freaked yourself out watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit or you find yourself panicking when your child darts out of sight for a few minutes at a park. It is inevitable once you have children that you start caring for their safety and wondering what predators lurk in the night.
There are a variety of websites in this day and age that allow you to merely log on and put in your address and it will spit you out a detailed list of sex offenders near you.
By far the easiest and most reliable service to use is Family Watch Dog. The Family Watch Dog has been in the service of the people since 2005 and has stuck to its motto that 'Awareness is your Best Defense'.
Just enter in your address and the service provides you with pictures, addresses, and convictions. Family Watch Dog even has a service where you can put in your address and it will alert you when a sexual offender moves nearby to you.
Knowing that there is a rapist or a child molester next door definitely will not help you sleep soundly at night, but as the Family Watch Dog says, awareness is your best defense. It may cause you to reconsider taking the dimly lit shortcut home from the store or allowing your kids to play alone outside. You cannot shelter everyone from everything, but a little dilligence can go a long way.
How to Use the Map
After you have gone to Family Watch Dog and put in your address, it's time to be surprised! Unless you live in the middle rural Alaska where there is not another person around for 50 miles, it is most likely that you live by a sexual offender of some kind.
You can zoom in and out of the map and it will adjust the result, for me it could not lock onto my address because it's kind of obscure but it gave my general area.
You may be shockingly surprised at the amount of child molesters that live around school.
There is almost always at least one by a school anywhere. Playgrounds are also strangely popular. It's really quite scary. However, with the proper diligence on your part and some quick teaching about etiquette towards strangers to youre children you can live in those areas all your life under relative safety.
Family Watch Dog Color Scheme
Family Watch Dog has a very informative color scheme for their map of sex offenders. It helps sort out the child molesters from the sexual batteries.
The color scheme is as follows:
Red - Dark Red
These are people who have commited a sexual crime against a child. These are pedophiles and you should keep your children away from these areas. Dark Red a place that employes a child molestor.
Yellow - White
Yellow represents people who have commited sexual crimes on other adults. Most often these represent rapists. You may want to use caution when travelling in those neighborhoods at night. White represents that places that employ these sex offenders.
Blue - Dark Blue
Blue represents sex offenders who were guilty of sexual battery. The dark blue represents where they are employeed.
Green is used to represent any other offenders who do not fall into the above categories. These other offenses include sexual misconduct, incest and criminal sexual conduct
Facts About Sexual Abuse
Who Commits Sexual Abuse?
Adults and children, men and women, people of all races, religions, sexual orientations and cultures can commit sexual abuse. There is no set of people that become sexual abusers.
60% of abusers are family friends (babysitters, neighbors, childcare providers or friends of the family)
30% of abusers are their own family.
10% are strangers
23% of abusers are under the age of 18
Older children tend to be at greater risk for sexual abuse
0-3 year olds: 10% of victims
4-7 year olds: 28.4% of victims
8-11 year olds: 25% of victims
12 and older: 35.9% of victims
Girls tend to be at greater risk of sexual victimization than boys.
However, boys are more likely to be victimized by a perpetrator outside the family than girls.
Educating Your Child
If you live near a sexual offender, you should keep your children educated about it. Point out the sex offenders house to your children, but leave out all the scarier bits about why they should keep away from there.
Make sure your children also know the basics:
Do not accept a ride from a stranger.
Do not go into the home or yard of a stranger.
Tell your parents if a stranger offers you toys, money, gifts or candy.
Try to use the buddy system when children play outdoors.
Call 911 if your parents are not around and a stranger approaches you
Not All is as it Seems
A word of warning as you look at the multi-colored map in front of you and have a whole bunch of paranoia set in. Not all of these people are scum of the earth. Some may have been wrongly convicted, because lets face it, it DOES happened sometimes.
Keep in mind that a large portion of these young people may also be convicted of statutory rape. This is a situation where a man or woman may be at the age of sexual consent, but their partners are not. I have heard of a few fathers ruining a young mans' life merely because he did not like the man fooling around with his daughter.
You do not need to go on a tirade on these people and chase them out of the neighborhood with pitchforks and torches. Some of them may be innocent, some may be guilty. Some may have responded to therapy and have control over their sexual proclivities, and others may be on child playing in a slip-n-slide away from a relapse.
You cannot treat people unjustly because of their past. The only thing you can do is be aware. Know your surroundings, keep and eye on your kids, and do not put yourself in dangerous situations.
We should not have to live in a world where sexual predators prowl around unchecked, but sadly, we do.