11/24/08

Where Are Your Local Sex Offenders?

When I was a child, I would leave the house when I got up in the morning, and not be heard from again until dark. Riding my bike, visiting friends, walking around the block- the only rule was that I needed to call home and let them know if I changed locations. Now as a parent, I couldn’t imagine letting my kids roam the town and go wherever they wanted. Times have changed. My 10 year old isn’t even allowed to walk around the block on her own, and my six year old can’t play on the front sidewalk without first letting me know where she is. I feel like I can’t let them out of my sight because a sex offender lives two streets over.

I check the state sex offender registry once a month. I feel it is important for me to know where these offenders live, and keep my kids from going down those streets. I know that six sex offenders live in my village, five level 2, and one level 3 (Level 3 being the most likely to repeat their crime). I know where these people live, what they look like, where they work, and what kind of vehicles they drive.

I realize that there were sex offenders around when I was a kid. I have no idea who they were or where they lived, and I’m sure my parents didn’t know either. My freedom was not dictated by a level 3 who lived four blocks away, like it is for my kids. Aside from the occasional fight, or fall from a tree or bike, my friends and I were safe and were never confronted by the “bad people” that I so frequently find myself warning my kids about. I knew not to talk to strangers, but it was ok to ask the guy from down the street permission before we played with his dog.

Awareness of sex offenders in society has greatly increased in my lifetime. I can find out every detail about an offender, ranging from details of the original crime, to the license plate number by checking the national registry.

I was thrilled when Megan’s Law ensured I’d be better able to protect my children. I am even more thrilled now at the recent e-Stop legislation (The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, took effect on April 28, 2008). This law states it “enables New York to combat misuse of the internet by convicted sex offenders by requiring sex offenders to register their internet identifiers with law enforcement, permitting social networking websites to access the internet identifiers of convicted sexual predators in order to prescreen or remove them from services used by children and notify law enforcement of potential violations of law, and prohibiting certain high risk sex offenders from using the internet to victimize children.” (Assembly s6875a)

I still have to keep NetNanny on to keep the porn and violence away from my kids, but this law, along with properly teaching my kids how to use the internet safely, gives me more peace of mind. At least there is one area of their lives I can let them roam without fear of the "bad guys."

To check for level 2 or 3 offenders near you, go here and enter your zip code.

1 comments:

Bev said...

Thanks for the reminder. I haven't checked it lately, so I just did, and found out there's a level 2 in my brother's apartment complex.