An advocacy organization called ARM–the anti-registry movement–staged a peaceful protest in Florida on April 22 at the place in Tallahassee where Lauren Book’s “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” event came to completion. The group had made it perfectly clear in media interviews and in all announcements that they were in total agreement with the work Lauren does with sexual abuse healing, education, awareness, and prevention. The protest was not against any of those noble goals, goals that ARM, WAR, SOSEN, and RSOL all share. The protest was against what has been called Florida’s “scorched-earth policy,” a policy whose intent, from all evidence, is to make it a virtual and a literal impossibility for all registered citizens living in Florida to assimilate into a law-abiding society. It is this policy that created residency restrictions so stringent, and with penalties so harsh, that registrants are living in the woods, under bridges, in fields, in railroad yards, and in other places and in such conditions that few of us would allow our pets to endure.
Some members of ARM have attempted to reach out to Lauren Book and dialogue with her and her organization about the facts and evidence laid out through research that contradict a scorched-earth policy. Rather than agree to that or even to acknowledge the areas where the goals of ARM and of Lauren’s Kids are the same, this was posted on the homepage of Lauren’s Kids a few days before the walk’s completion date.
As you may know, there are some organizations that do not agree with Lauren’s Kids’ mission of preventing sexual abuse and healing survivors, or our work in the areas of education, awareness, and advocacy. It has come to our attention that there may be a few members of these organizations who will be in Tallahassee on April 22 to host a peaceful protest in opposition to our advocacy efforts.
Why Lauren would deliberately misinterpret and misconstrue the goal of ARM’s presence in Tallahassee is unclear. Possibly she feels that she is protecting children from abuse by ostracizing not only those who are on the registry but also those who advocate for them, but if so, she is forgetting the lesson she learned with her own situation. As was the case with Lauren’s sexual abuse, those who molest children are very, very seldom on the registry but are rather those with close ties to the children they victimize.
We wish Lauren Book success with her goals of educating families and ending children’s suffering. We further wish–and hope and pray–that at some point in her pursuit of this goal, she comes to the realization that thousands of children are suffering because they have a parent on the registry and that the policies in Florida that she supports are a major contributor to their anguish.