What do the following people have in common?
- An Air Force Colonel
- A prison guard
- A Christian school teacher
They are all in positions where they are responsible for protecting people? Yes, but not what I was looking for. They all require specialized training and background clearances? True, but again, not what I had in mind. They are all people we should trust and respect? Ok, not the answer I had in mind. Guess again…
They are all sex offenders? Bingo! You guessed it!
I scan the headlines daily to share relevant news with our members. Within the past 24 hours, I’ve read stories about a former Air Force colonel ordered to pay $150,000 for raping a 15-year-old girl 30 times, the State of New York being ordered to pay $500,000 to a woman who was raped by a Department of Corrections officer at Rikers Island prison, and a former teacher at a Christian academy in Springfield, Oregon who will serve time in state prison for having sex with a student.
And that’s just in 24 hours. These stories come out every day! I generally don’t re-post them because we’re not about judging or shaming, but occasionally I feel like shouting from the rooftops, DON’T PEOPLE REALIZE THAT IT’S NOT PEOPLE ON THE REGISTRY COMMITTING THESE CRIMES!?!?!?!
97% of sexual offenses are committed by someone not on the registry. They are committed by people in the military, people in law enforcement, people in your child’s classroom and very sadly and most commonly, people in your home!
Sex offender registries were created in the wake of tragic but incredibly rare occurrences and have fostered a misconception that people on these lists are ultimately going to snatch your kid from a playground. Could you imagine what life would be like if people were instilled with the belief that their child was inevitably going to get killed in front of your house by a recidivist drunk driver? The streets would be empty! Yet the latter scenario is far more likely than the former!
“Police officer”, “teacher”, “uncle”, “sex offender” are useless labels when it comes to protecting our children from sexual abuse. The “sex offender” label only serves to punish the individual after the crime, but does NOTHING to prevent the crime from happening in the first place. Every “sex offender” was a once a “parent”, “child”, “neighbor”, “uncle”, etc.
We agree that sex offenses should be punished appropriately. But the registry is not appropriate – neither for the offender, the victim or the potential victim.