I know. This time of year the kids are here, there, and everywhere.
No school means they have a lot of time on their hands.
Mama can we go…..? Dad can we go……?
I don’t mean to terrify you even more than you already are but….
Here are the bigger questions?
Is your child going to play with another child where a sex offender happens to reside with another adult?
Is your child being befriended by a juvenile sex offender this summer?
Is your child being watched by a sex offender this summer while they are visiting other relatives?
When I talk to parents and ask them about looking up sex offenders, oh they are on it. They do this on a regular basis. In their area. Where they reside.
Please remember to look up registered sex offenders in all areas where your children will be going.
Yes, even for short visits, spontaneous visits, sleepovers. If they leave your house and go somewhere else it is a visit. Visits require thorough checks and conversations.
Remember when we were kids. We twisted our parents in knots with requests to go anywhere during summer break.
Q: Can we go to Jocelyn’s, step father’s, sister’s house? Just to play with her little niece because she has an Atari.
Now I’m a parent
Real conversation about 5 years ago:
My Son: Ma, can I go to John’s house? We just want to play video games for a little while.
Me: Hmm. John. Yeah. I remember him. Okay, who is going to be in there?
Me: At John’s house while y’all play video games? Isn’t that where you said you were going?
Son: Oh! I didn’t know what you meant. Just me, John. Oh and his mom and dad are having some people over.
So. He got tired of the being on the witness stand. After my questions, he had to answer my co-counsels questions. My husband.
Well, eventually I noticed that my son’s friends began to gather here. At my home.
Yes, we are those parents. You see. I just know too much.
And really every parent needs to know as much as possible. When your children asks to go play at someone’s home you need to know who will be there. It was my duty to protect him from harm. How could I do that if I didn’t even know who he would be around?
You’d be amazed at how much clarification I received when I asked him those questions.
I’ve discovered that there was going to be an adult party going on. Alcohol would be served to the adults. The kids would be off on their own frolic somewhere. (my interpretation of the situation)
Oh $#%@ no!
See they leave this stuff out. All the kids are thinking about is going to hang out or play. My job as a parent is to think about everything else.
2. Relatives: Joint/Shared custody, grandparents, extended family Remember, adults who don’t normally have children with visiting all year round may not notice certain things that an adult who has children most of the year does. Are the grandparents your child may visit aware of the sex offender registry in their area? What about the parent with joint or shared custody?
Other very important places:
3. Organized Extra-Curricular Activities: Summer camp, band camp, cheerleading camp, religious/faith activities. Even though the children are often in closed and supervised spaces, many of them walk back and forth to the site.
4. Popular Hang outs: Please don’t forget the places that children frequent. The playgrounds, the lake, the basketball court, swimming pools, etc.
I am telling you where there are children the predators will be lurking. They know where your children are. You must try to gain as much information as you possibly can.
Is looking up this information a failsafe measure? No.
However, I still can’t get the image of Megan Kanka’s mother out of my mind. She had no idea that her family was residing near a home shared by 3 sex offenders. Megan never got to turn 8.
One of those offenders raped and killed her.
The vast majority of child sexual abuse crimes occur at the hands of someone that the victim knows. Familiarity is subjective, especially to children. If they meet you once or twice they consider that “knowing” a person.
(Some adults do too but that’s another lesson entirely.)
All these folks need to do is get to “know” your child and the trap is set.
One of the best things that you can do is to try to find out as much information as you possibly can about registered child sex offenders everywhere that your children are.
United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website
FBI-Sex Offender Registry Site description: The National Sex Offender Public Website—coordinated by the Department of Justice—enables every citizen to search the latest information from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and numerous Indian tribes for the identity and location of known sex offenders.