A Sex Offender in the Neighborhood: Some Reminders About Child Safety
We learned last week that a registered sex offender has moved onto our block. We gathered with some neighbors who are dear friends and who have young children to talk about how to handle it. Emotions ranged from anxious to helpless to what-should-we-actually-do-about-it?
Because of our roles in ministry overseas, my husband and I have been trained in Child Safety multiple times. I was grateful for that background during our discussion. Below are some highlights from our conversation that I hope will serve you well—either by way of reminder or perhaps to help you think through these issues for the first time.
You can search for registered sex offenders throughout the nation on the FBI website. Our local map reveals that there are many sex offenders in our area. This is not surprising. Sexual sin is rampant and many, many offenders exist who are not on the map because they haven’t yet been caught. Sadly, the absence of a registered offender on your street doesn’t make your street safe. https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/sex-offender-registry
While sex offender registries are helpful, forensic psychologist Cynthia Calkins, PhD says, “you should remember that 95 percent of new sex crimes are committed by individuals not on a sex-offender registry. Also, more than three-quarters of sex crimes are committed by someone the victim already knows, not a stranger.” https://www.aetv.com/real-crime/what-can-you-do-if-a-registered-sex-offender-moves-into-your-neighborhood
According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, “Approximately 67% of all victims of reported sexual assaults are under the age of 18, and more than half of these victims are under the age of 12. Approximately one in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18…Most sexual offenses are committed by someone the victim knows — either a family member, friend, intimate partner, or acquaintance. About 27% of offenders are strangers.” http://www.csom.org/pubs/needtoknow_fs.pdf
While it is indeed alarming to know that a convicted sex offender resides just a few houses away from mine, it is not the end of the world. His presence in our community is not, by any means, a guarantee that an act of violence will be committed against my daughters. I did tell my girls about him, made sure they knew which house he lives in, and even showed them his picture and pointed out his car.
Beyond that, though, we rehearsed the prior conversations we’ve had about sexual violence. The reality, is sexual offenders are everywhere, registered or not. They are more at risk from someone that we already know. I want my four girls to be aware, ready, and strong. This is a topic that we don’t shy away from in our home.
Here are some strategies I’ve taught my daughters for staying safe:
Here are some child safety rules we follow as a family:
Here are some book recommendations on child safety:
Here are some reasons why you should believe your children if they ever tell you they’ve been sexually harmed:
Here are some child safety measures to think about within your church:
Here are some alarming realities about sex trafficking:
My friend and neighbor summed up our conversation well, “We all need Jesus.” Indeed—both the offender and the offended.
May we walk in the truth that those who have been harmed and those who have done the harming are not outside the reach of a Savior who forgives and heals. I want to walk with my daughters in a posture of preparedness and wisdom, as well as a confidence that comes from God’s sovereignty alone, and a tenderness that comes from his forgiveness extended to me and to everyone, no matter the crime.