NARSOL speaks out against stranger-danger

Used with permission

By Michael Hobbes . . . The hotel industry has never liked Airbnb. Since the launch of the short-term rental company in 2008, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the sector’s trade group and lobbying arm, has urged cities to tax, restrict and prohibit Airbnb’s activities.

But now the industry may be encouraging a new tactic: inciting fear of child predators.

“With a revolving door of strangers coming and going from short-term rental properties, tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete,” wrote Stacie Rumenap, president of the nonprofit Stop Child Predators, in a guest column last March in the Knox News in Knoxville, Tennessee. “There is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door.”

At the time, Tennessee lawmakers were considering whether to forbid cities across the state from regulating short-term rentals. Rumenap wrote that if the legislation passed, “the term ‘Stranger Danger’ will take on a whole new meaning for parents in Tennessee as the community fabric of neighborhoods across the state will be fractured and local schools, parents and children will have to contend with more complete strangers in their neighborhoods.” . . .

Many of the advertisements and other written materials produced by Stop Child Predators have a striking resemblance to the messaging that the hotel industry uses in its own efforts to restrict the operations of Airbnb.

“Commercial landlords are using Airbnb to rent out multiple residential properties year-round, just like a hotel, while avoiding regulation and taxes,” writes the AHLA on the “Illegal Hotels” page of its website. . . .

Regardless of Stop Child Predators’ links to the AHLA, it’s worth considering the group’s argument on the merits: Would restricting Airbnb really make children safer?

Even a cursory look at the evidence indicates that it would not.

While child sexual abuse remains alarmingly common — up to 5% of boys and 12% of girls experience abuse before turning 18 — only 7% is committed by strangers or acquaintances. The vast majority is perpetrated by friends (often minors themselves), family members or authority figures such as teachers or coaches.

And when it comes to kidnappings, “stranger danger” is even rarer: In 2011, just 105 children were abducted by adults they didn’t know in the entire United States. Considering that more than 200,000 children are reported missing each year, strangers represent a tiny portion of the danger posed to children in the United States.

“Research on child sexual abuse does not support these concerns,” said Sandy Rozek, the communications director for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws. “Extensive research has documented that child sexual abuse risk overwhelmingly comes from individuals that children know, not strangers.”

Read the full piece here at the HuffPost.

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    • #57375 Reply

      OH GOOD GRIEF! The stranger danger mantra so often heard by John Walsh on the Justice Network is sickening, and I’m sure he will jump on this bandwagon as fodder for the guilt he must experience every day over his own son. So sad, because we all know this fear mongering is unjustified. Has anyone staying at an Airbnb, so far as we know, been arrested for a crime against a child? I think the minds of the folks in charge of protecting children are the ones with bad thoughts and an over active imagination. Once again for anyone believing in the myth of stranger danger, just please keep tabs on your kids and stop complaining about what could happen.

      • #57380 Reply

        Hello Donna,

        You did such a fine job I only have to agree 🙂

    • #57387 Reply

      I agree, If parents would keep their eyes on their children as much as their cell phone they wouldn’t have anything to worry about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a store and saw women talking on their cell phones while their children ran wild throughout the store running into people that were shopping, knocking things off the shelves all the while never seeing what the child was doing let alone who he or she was talking to. If they pay attention to their children and keep an eye on what they’re doing they wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

      • #57397 Reply

        But then there are those pesky statistics that show the child is very unlikely to be harmed by a complete stranger. So, I think the chances the kid will be just fine anyway are very good.

    • #57385 Reply
      Ed from PA

      I have issues finding employment, housing, financial support, you name it. I was recently requested to live the residence of my exwife of 35 years, I moved into a motel room, approved by the Pennsylvania State Police. After 5 days, Red Roof In gave me the boot and kept the money for that night’s stay to boot.

      • #57403 Reply
        PA Dad

        Hi Ed,

        I’m about to be sentenced and put o the registry in PA, too. But I thought there were no residency restrictions in PA! Why, if I may ask, can’t you live with your ex-wife? And how did the motel even know? Are you on probation or parole supervision in addition to the registry? im still hoping to get probation, not jail time, but i pleaded to a s.o. registry offense so thats gonna be my life…

        thanks for and advice you can give me

        -PA Dad

        • #57419 Reply

          Your life is about to change in more ways than you could ever imagine and many rights you formally had will forever be taken away from you. Life will become less restrictive once you are off probation but most regulations are for life. How? The law says that in the name of protecting children, the State can curtail your right to travel, where you live, where your work and where where you go to school for the rest of your life. Residency restrictions are about how close the residence is to a school or “any place where children gather.” The distance is different State by State and sometimes city by city. They do not care if you own the house, lived there all your life or your dying mother needs you to stay there and care for her. The law says you cannot live there. No exceptions.

          I have no idea what your legal situation is and i am not a lawyer, but if there is anything you can do so that you do not have to register ie: reject a plea, take prison time, fight your case with a trial – do it!

    • #57406 Reply
      linda shedlock

      I live in Pa. and the last I knew there are no residency restrictions that I am aware of unless you are SVP . even notification to community also ! Unless it has changed since I last looked . Please correct me if I am wrong . Last updated january 2017 that I have . Penn. 42 Pa. C.S .§§9799.10 through 9799.9. On the chart residency/presence restrictions is blank . To me that means no restrictions . Yet there are P O ‘s that try intimating family members , I guess to try an discourage them from helping . I guess they feel they are above the laws and at the time of my experience I didn’t know anything . Today don’t try to pull anything on me. Good luck !

    • #57409 Reply

      Fred, I believe you have solved the problem. I have to also give NARSOl credit in many of these areas. The stranger danger is more of a myth or a coined phrase, but is it. That is the responsiblity of any parent.

      Thedr ladies talked about chatting on the cell phone and the kids running wild in the store. Well when your a guest shopping it is their responsiblity of the store to make your shopping a safe experience. Camera’s yes we have camera’a in many establishments today. Call mointoring or recordings. I’m sure even when one goes to the liquir store to pick up some of their favorite liqour. I wonder if we montior the behavior or entice the behavior as these internet sex sting inducements or the teenager flaunting a bit too much.

      Yes there are two ways one can look at this stranger danger but being actually approched by a stranger can be frightening even for adult women. A stranger could be anyone people don’t know or know. Now the supreme Court just today has ruled that juries should hear many of these cases or should we justify ourselves as well or should say well he shot first so I have the right to take his life which is totally wrong. Reasoning and working things out is as lot better and like they say honesty is the best policy. I wonder who is justified in the end.

    • #57414 Reply

      FYI – I am a registrant. I booked an Airbnb in New Hampshire for this summer. One month before the trip Airbnb abruptly cancelled by reservation and refunded my money. They cited my being a registrant to the reason for the cancellation. They apparently use a third party company to run background checks on people.

    • #57420 Reply

      We’ve known for a long time the fallacy of Stranger Danger and the mounds of research both against it and against the registry itself, which in many cases has proven to make communities less safe.

      But this has never been about research or the safekeeping of children. The is about fear mongering for political gain about a topic that politicians “doth protest too much” about. The LGBT community is done with and has called out those politicians who speak the loudest against gay rights only to find out they are an anonymous regular on Grndr.

      Everybody knows that accidentally chatting with a mature looking 16 year old or a teenager sexting has absolutely nothing to do with Meghan Khanka or anything to do with child molestation. The laws have become so severe and ridiculous that it’s becoming obvious that we have simply become the punching bag that politicians can hide behind in order to account for their own guilty, secret issues. And there’s research starting to come out that proves that whole phenomenon too.

      Time to get real.

      • #57438 Reply
        Michael Shimkin
        Michael Shimkin

        Well said and I couldn’t agree more. What are your thoughts on how to “get real?”

        • #57450 Reply

          I just really believe that a lot of this BS is the result of a strange psychological phenomenon that is happening in the minds of these mostly white, old, very powerful men which says, “if I can’t go there (even though I want to and have many times before and oh god i hope i don’t get caught) then you REALLY can’t go there and if you do, if you do sext back and forth with your 16 year old girlfriend or if you do get of glimpse of the almighty forbidden, we’re not just going to punish you, we’re gonna ruin your life forever, label you a child molestor and apply laws meant for serial child sexual predators to make all that happen. Like I said, i compare it to gay rights. Once the LGBT community and those advocating for years for the right for gays to get married, once they picked up on the fact that, “hey, this has nothing to do with ‘marriage is between a man and a woman,’ this has to do with closeted politicians taking out their self hate by passing stupid laws that have nothing to do with them,’ they then took that knowledge, made a documentary about it even that said, “we’re onto those of you who are leading double lives and voting against this.” And what do you know, suddenly gay marriage became legal a few years later. The tables got turned. Now if we see a politician going off the deep end about gay marriage, making a big political stink about it so he can get votes or whatever, now it causes others to look at him wondering, “gee, wondering what he’s trying to hide.” Time to get real that that’s what’s going on with this issue as well. And with the number of cases that are racking up with politicians being caught with their pants down doing the exact thing they write about in these harsh laws is evidence that proves my point.

          • #57601 Reply

            What makes you believe the foundation of this is coming from “strange psychological phenomenon that is happening in the minds of these mostly white, old, very powerful men …”???
            It’s an assumption by a broad swath of society and is perpetuated accross all demographics, and the only old white men uniquely visible are the politicians that are opportunistic. But politics are no longer limited to powerful old white men. There is plenty of stupidity going around in our legislators. It’s the only real equalizer we can point to.
            More to the point, anecdotally at any rate, my life has been complicated by “highly educated younger women who are liberal in their politics, and well established in their own power. Many have come from the fields of academia, psychology, corporate leadership, and clergy. Pretty inclusive if you ask me. Perhaps we can reduce myths by not assuming one myth to explain another.

    • #57426 Reply
      Michael Shimkin
      Michael Shimkin

      Just think about. The word “stranger” in Stranger Danger is there because the alledged perpetrator is seeking a victim in a locale in which he/she is a stranger. So why then would anyone step out the front door of their AirBNB to snatch the kid nextdoor? A rookie detective could figure-out that one.

      As well, are we to believe that the longer you stay in a neighborhood, the more likely you are to grab a kid and a stranger driving through less likely?

      It might be worth asking AirBNB for statistics on crime committed by their renters.

      • #57602 Reply

        Airbnb is suspiciously quiet when it comes to reporting such facts, as are most other public service organizations. I imagine that if someone could get hold of the data, we would find the trends closely match those we already know, that it’s person’s known by the victim that would offend, even in an Airbnb. I can’t recall hearing that there is a noticable trend of sexual assualts running through other hospitality venues. So why would there be at Airbnb? More mongering.

    • #57439 Reply

      “NARSOL speaks out against stranger-danger” [from email]

      I don’t see reference to NARSOL doing anything in the full article. Might be an inexpensive way to call attention to the fallacies mentioned in the article by NARSOL writing their own op-ed pieces for those papers, or possibly taking out an ad like SCP did.

      If this happens to one of us, we should definitely consider suing the hotel or AirBnB that refused to accommodate us. It works well for the LGBTQ community when they don’t get their way. Maybe it’s time for us to get ugly and in-your-face as well?


    • #57440 Reply
      W.A.R of Florida

      Using the term stranger danger and those labeled sex offenders to make a profit..repulsive!

      The Hotel/Motel industry encouraging this tactic of inciting fear of someone on the registry in a Airbnb is as Moronic as Florida state Sen. Lauren Books introduction of HB 773 which would have required hotels to post registrants staying at the location.! It would burden the travel rights of those who have served their time and their families as well.

    • #57456 Reply

      Someone said that 65% of all SO were missing a Father when growing up. In reverse, I also know that young women who are without a Father are more likely to go after older men, and are more sexually active. I think a lot has to do with taking on more responsibilities then someone with one parent. Guidance is the treatment needed in both cases. So I say it is all treatable. The facts speak for themselves recidivism rate less then 5%. SO are curable just like everyone else!

    • #57460 Reply

      Yes we all have to give credit were credit is due. Even speaking out of line today can land someone in hot water. I had to look up the word Rational again and yes when logic and reson conclide in this rationalization than is Nero still fiddling while rome burns.

      Lets see, the sex registry I’m sure sounded like a good idea to politicians when it was proposed, even the blue law was a bit diobolical but all these ordeals have or had so many loop holes for humanity that congress should be ashamed of themself but congress or leaders are not going to admit their mistakes.

      For one the sex offender registry sterotypes a person for life, it is punitive and yes it does punish. So who is the Stranger danger today . Is it myth or truth, is it set up or let down. Is it using the negative to correct

      Sure there is two sides’ to everything. Is all this about winning or losing or some justification when a judge in Alaska has already said that a lot of this, if not many are unconstitutional, so now we have the stranger danger myth to opinionize. In the end who wins. An advocate is to help another or be a go between and yes advocates fignt for freedom and yes truth and justice is still truth and justice. Bottom line eliminate the registry in its one size fits all.

    • #57465 Reply

      My wife runs a property on air bnb. They ask for a copy of your drivers license and do a background check. When’s the last time a motel asked for that?

    • #57780 Reply

      If you want some insight into the way fear of stranger danger has been consciously stoked, check out two videos from the 50’s on YouTube. They are like the “Reefer Madness” of stranger danger. “The Dangerous Stranger” and “Boys Beware! Homosexuals are on the prowl!”

    • #57845 Reply

      For those who dont know and for those convicted of having child pornography on there computer.Well the tragic ordeal Jessica Lunsford went through is horrific but what most dont know is: BROOKSVILLE – Police investigating the disappearance of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford found a “limited amount” of child pornography on her father’s computer, prosecutors said Monday.
      Mark Lunsford won’t face prosecution for possessing the child pornography, said Peter Magrino, one of the prosecutors of Jessica’s confessed killer, John Evander Couey.
      “There’s no evidence to show that he was manufacturing or producing child pornography,” Magrino said. “There was a limited amount of that on the computer.”
      Magrino added there was no indication that any member of Jessica’s family had ever abused her in any way.
      The revelation came as the State Attorney’s Office released more than 800 pages of documents in the Couey case.
      Mark Lunsford said Monday that he never intentionally visited any child pornography Web sites, and the images that turned up on his computer were automatic “pop-ups” that can appear without the consent of the person using the computer.
      “I don’t go to child pornography sites,” he said.

    • #58355 Reply

      Mike you bring up a very point in a lot of this stanger danger, If I was married I would do every to try to protect my child as that is the responsiblity of every good parent. I remember one time back in high school that one guy got suspended from school and he thought it was wrong by the school board. The principal announced on the low speaker to not let him to class and if on the property report it to them. While this sex offender ordeal is a bit different the same principal is involved.

      Sure if one is on an adult chat talking to someone I can see nothing wrong but at times if can get out of line, but if one is induced by someone that they want to talk dirty and they use that against someone than who is justified. Many of these ordeals mike make no sense and NARSOL know’s that. Sure we can all get intimidated with this internet age but being constructive is just that. Sure I’m glad that they arested me in a few of my DUI charges over the bast. Of course dad wasn’t pleased at the time.

      This new registry thing is a bit confusing and deceptive at time. Sure we need to stop this thing for humanity’s sake as prevention is good but think… who’s instilling and who’s killing whether one uses biblical principals or not this is still America, but I hope we still have some principals or true value today.

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