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Help! There is a Registered Sex Offender in my neighborhood!

Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Help! There is a Registered Sex Offender in my neighborhood!

What can you do to if there is a Registered Sex Offender (RSO) in your neighborhood?

When searching Family Watchdog, I am sure that the average user has found sex offenders residing around their residence. What does that mean for the safety of yourself and your children? What can you do to protect yourself and your family? What are your rights as well as the RSO's rights to reside where they want to? Can they live near a school or park? Are they all bad people? We are going to try our best to answer your questions. We would love to see some input on the controversy of having sex offenders as neighbors, comment below and let us know what you think!

Can a sex offender live near a school or a park? What about visiting such places?
Each state has different laws and regulations on where a sex offender can live and visit. It varies from offender to offender based on their conviction information, requirements and the county they were convicted in. For more information on where an offender can reside, work and visit, we urge you to contact your local state police and ask them. Remember, each offender is different! Offender number one may be allowed to live across the street from the school and visit after school programs often, while offender two may not ever be 1500 feet from a school.
Take notes on what the rules are where you live. And if you see something that is out of the ordinary or suspicious, report it!

Can I tell my neighbors that there is a sex offender in our neighborhood?
Absolutely, yes. Family Watchdog's motto is "Awareness is your best defense" meaning, if your aware, you going to keep your eyes open more than someone who doesn't know. So yes, tell your neighbors! This is why the sex offender information is PUBLIC knowledge. However, if you are wanting to post flyers or put notecards in mailboxes, PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL POLICE! Some states do allow this, but most states are against posting the offender's information all over the neighborhood.
Another thing you can do is make a Safety Portal on Family Watchdog for your neighborhood members to visit. It's a great start to a neighborhood watch!
Making a Safety Portal - Login to your account by entering your username and password as usual. On your home screen, under "other functions" click "create a safety portal". Follow the steps and customize to make it yours! You will get a link that you can create to share with other people in your neighborhood. It's great for adding in newsletters! If you need any help, contact Family Watchdog customer support.

Does the police have to tell us when a sex offender is moving in our neighborhood? Does the RSO have to tell us?
In many states the police and sex offenders do not tell anyone. Some states they do not even have to report this to their landlord. You can find out your state's rules on this by contacting your local state police and asking them what their policy is. Some do nothing, while others send out notecards in the mail alerting neighbors about the offenders in their area.

How can I protect myself and my family?
Awareness is key. Educate yourself and your family. Find ways to talk to your children to let them know the dangers that are out there in the world and what to do if they were ever put in a position they should not be. Family Watchdog publishes a lot of this information in their newsletters and all over their site for you to use. You have to figure out what is age appropriate to talk about with your children. You know them best!

Remember, sex offenders are people too!
Not ALL sex offenders are horrible people who did horrible things. In fact, a very small percentage of them are violent or dangerous to strangers. Many many RSOs are what we call "Romeo and Juliette" offenders - you know, when the girl is 15 and the boy is 18. The parents find out, they don't like it one bit so they turn him into the police. Later they may try to drop charges, but because a child is involved (the 15 year old), the state picks up and pursues charges. Many of these offenders are normal people that made stupid decisions when they were younger and now have to live with the consequences. I remember a police officer telling me once that an offender in NY was charged as such - he married his victim (teenage sweetheart) and had 4 children with her since then. The police officer told me this happens very often and it's sad that they have to be on a registry when they are trying to live a normal life.
But there are MANY offenders out there that I personally would not want living or lurking around my house and my children! You can find out the true nature of the crime by contacting the state police in the state that the RSO was convicted in to learn more about that offender and the risk of re-offending. By taking this information into consideration when talking to your family about sex offenders, you can reduce the stigma around ALL offenders and teach your children who the real scary ones are to avoid.

I hope we made some key points for you to look into. Get to know your neighbors and your neighborhood. Notice changes and be aware of your surroundings. If you see something, report it! Talk to your children about stranger-danger, don't put it off! Is there anything else you would like to add? Comment below! Tell us about living next to sexual offenders in your experience!

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