Wednesday, November 02, 2005

To tell or not to tell, vote please!

I'm back on line, and for some of you that's a relief. You've not had an update for ages. Ginger worked on the shipped hard drive and it's just fine. I'm slowly building my files back. I did, however, lose a month of pictures and might have lost most of the bar mitzvah pictures, but I'm in denial about that.

One thing I am not in denial about is Sexual Offenders. There is a sexual offender's registry and you can check by last name or zip code. Someone shared the link and I looked around. Looking doesn't mean, as an acquaintance said, that I think the world is a terrifying place. It means I use resources that are available to protect and inform. I also lock my doors and use the factory installed alarm on my car, when I didn't have a car with a factory install alarm, I didn't buy one. This resource is on the web. I encourage ALL parents to use it. Check the last name of any and ALL adults your child comes into contact with. Don't write off your next door neighbor as "I know him/her, I don't have to check" unless you know and understand that it's your fear that's keeping you from checking. Knowledge is power. Check, then chat. Find an offener? Read up on what their offense is. Know them personally? Chat with them about your discovery. Then, when you know, should you tell other friends who come in contact with the registered offender? I vote "yes". Why? Because knowledge is power. Because sexual offenders are felons and it's important to make informed choices. Even if you think the offender is harmless, being around children may put his/her parole/probation in jeopardy. Think, ask, then go with your gut. If the offender lives with kids, remember they are not offenders and should not be castigated because their parent is an offender. Welcome the child, but avoid the offender. Safety first, manners later!
What about group events? Individually, responsible offenders know their legal and judge ordered limits, but may choose to live outside them. Again, check. If you discover a member of a group is a registered offender, speak to the organizers or leaders about asking that individual to refrain from attending group activities. You might not want to see a headline "XYZ Group harbors sexual offender" the next morning with your coffee.
While you may not feel threatened by a convicted sexual offender as a partner or neighbor, others might. You both have a right to your feelings, but you don't have a right to knowingly expose other's to someone just because you think it's safe. There's a sexual offender's registry for a reason. Use it.

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