In response to “Signs not answer to sexual assault,” I agree with the opening statements and the closing one. However, I question much that is in between.
You say that the signs keeping out new registrants are a good thing; this smacks of NIMBYism and, as you yourself point out, the greater risk to children for sexual harm does not come from outside the family’s circle of trust but from within. After reading many studies and much expert literature for quite a few years, I find that the percentage of childhood molestation committed by those in or close to the family is closer to 90% than 60%, but the basic premise is the same, and a much, much smaller percentage, whatever it is, may properly fall into the “stranger-danger” category.
One category it does not fall into is the “repeat sex offender” category.
Why is that omitted from your editorial?
Actually, it is what you don’t say that intrigues me the most.
Such as why it is so important to you to publish the name and address of every registrant in the county before Halloween when studies show no increased risk at all for sexual harm to children on Halloween and when exhaustive research turns up no case in the U.S. of a child being abducted or assaulted by a registrant on Halloween?
I am also curious as to why, with all of the numbers you quote, you do not specify how many of the 35 child victims age 13 and younger were victims of someone already on the registry. My guess is because the answer is zero. Most government studies estimate that the number of child sexual assaults by strangers who are also registered offenders is less than 1%. The percentage of all sexual crime, year after year, that is committed by first-time offenders, i.e., those never before charged with a sexual crime, is approximately 96%.
I also wonder what this statement means: “I won’t be shocked to see some of the listed offenders subjected to terroristic threats or assault if they comply with the sign ordinance. Depending on what your experience with this social epidemic, it might be a justifiable punishment for prior bad behavior.”
What might be justifiable punishment? The signs? Or the terroristic threats and assault?
I fully agree that the signs will do nothing to protect children from the insidious danger of sexual abuse. Nothing that puts the focus on the registry and those on it, be it the signs or the public registry itself, will protect them. The focus needs to be on them, the victims, and programs of education and prevention.
Only then will we address the problem that needs addressing.
Sandy Rozek is a free-lance writer and the communications director at Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc., an organization that advocates for laws based on facts and evidence and for policies that support the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of law abiding, former sex offenders into society.