There has recently been quite a stir over a Registered Sex Offender who has moved into our little neighborhood. Before I talk about this, I want to clearly establish that the safety of children is a particular cause of mine. My concern over this issue is based on an understanding that sexual abuse occurs across barriers and has no boundaries. And it’s something that we, as parents, need to be painfully aware of.

However, there is something that is really, really bothering me about the outcry over this man. Parents are sending emails that we all need to be concerned, there is chatter back and forth that he should be evicted, and people are saying that we need to patrol him. I say, “Wake Up!”.  I am astounded that this is new to people! I have been a registered member of for almost 10 years and am alerted of these offenders as they move. There are hundreds around us. Type in your address and have a look. It was one of the first things I checked when I moved here. Why? Because it’s my job as a parent to cover all the bases. To make sure that if someone is living next door to me, I know that my kids are safe and because I’m aware of the world we live in. But truly – I see ten-year old kids walking home alone. Do you think it’s this guy in our neighborhood who is going to snatch them? Most probably not. And by vilifying this one person, we are neglecting, in our naivety, the fact that we need to educated our kids about the dangers that aren’t apparent. This man has been caught and convicted, and hopefully has received some kind of treatment. We know who he is and we don’t need to forgive him his sins or embrace him, but at least we’re aware of him!

All three of my kids were at a preschool where a male teacher, who had been there for 18 years, was arrested and convicted for child pornography. Two years later it is still not completely known whether kids in our school were directly affected, except for his diaries which tell, in disturbing detail, how he was “grooming” several of the little girls. Three victims filed restitution requests. This is a man who we passed in the hallway, gave holiday gifts to and entrusted, daily, with our children. This bad man was embraced and trusted by all of us – and we were all absolutely horrified and sickened by what happened.
Now I am not saying that we should be afraid of our teachers or our friends. I am saying that we need to teach our kids. Teach our kids to be safe everywhere. Teach them how to protect their bodies, and teach them that they have a voice and should never be afraid to use it. And finally, teach them that we shouldn’t live in fear but rather in the understanding that we are all powerful and can be strong and protected as individuals and as a community.
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