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Do you have a sex offender in your neighborhood? Here's the way to find out

Posted March 5

Is your neighborhood actually as safe as you thought? (Deseret Photo)

The first time I checked the sex offender registry, I was shocked. Only a few minutes from my college apartment there were at least five registered sex offenders. I made an effort to remember the picture of the sex offenders and avoid them at all costs, but is that really the right approach?

The statistics

As of March 2016 there were 805,781 registered sex offenders in the United States and its territories. When it comes to your children, keep in mind that these numbers aren't all in regard to child sex crimes — but 1 in 5 girls (and 1 in 20 boys) are victims of sexual abuse, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Registered sex offenders might have done something stupid and wrong at the age of 17, but 20 years later had never repeated the crime. A registered offender may be on the list for having consensual relations with a minor (think of a 19 year-old having consensual sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend). So don’t be too quick to judge the registered sex offender but it still is a good idea to check out what's happening in your neighborhood.

Finding registered sex offenders

There are lots of sites where you can find where a registered sex offender is living. Most sites try to keep their records accurate, but there are times where addresses aren't updated. The following sites are usually reliable:

Family Watchdog

This site not only allows you to see the sex offender’s address, but you can also get information on his/her description and crime. If you sign up on this site you will receive information about sex offenders moving into and out of your neighborhood.

In the picture, you can see the different colored flags which indicate a different kind of sex abuse crime.The red and maroon deal with child sex abuse.

National Sex Offender Public Website

This site is run by the US Department of Justice, so it’s usually accurate. You can also read up on tips about how to protect your children — and download the app to help keep your mind at ease when traveling.

Crime Reports

This site not only shows you who the sex offenders are and where they live, but you can also look at other criminal activities that are going on around you.

Neighborhood Scout

This site has loads of helpful information, but you have to pay for it. You can learn about the average real estate cost, the demographics, school ratings, crime activity (including registered sex offenders) and weather trends in your area. It'd be helpful to check this out before moving to a new neighborhood.

Protecting your children

Teach your children common safety procedures like not going into a stranger’s home. If the offender is still on probation, you can contact your local police station to talk to their probation officer; feel free to ask any questions you have. Occasionally you will receive a public notice if an offender moves into the neighborhood.

Keep a watchful eye on the person and report anything suspicious to the police, but remember the offender could have changed their ways. Each of the offenders have been declared guilty for reason, but it doesn’t mean they want to, or are going to repeat their crime. Be considerate, but cautious always keep a watchful eye.

Stacie Simpson is a journalism student. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.

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