It’s not necessarily a bad idea, we just have to wonder how necessary this new law will be.
A New York Legislator has sponsored a bill that provides “No sex offender shall apply for or accept a position which involves substantial contact with children while said person is dressed as a children’s character.” and that anyone who employs a person to dress as a character would have to perform a background check on the person.
As a general concept, it’s not terribly concerning since anyone who has a history that includes any crime involving children should probably not work as a mall Santa. However, we need to question the necessity of this law and what unintended consequences it might have.
For instance; has there been a problem in New York with Santas or Easter Bunnies assaulting children or is this bill something that a legislator is putting out there to “look tough on crime” in order to win votes? Also, with the overwhelming majority of sexual crimes being committed by first-time offenders, won’t it give parents a false sense of security when allowing their children to interact with characters, since it’s more likely they will be assaulted by someone NOT on the registry?
And also what unintended consequences can come of this? The Bill doesn’t just preclude paid employment, but volunteering as well in any situation “that would present a substantial contact with children while dressed as a children’s character”. Wouldn’t that preclude dressing up on Halloween, or being Santa for one’s own children? How many people will get caught in this net for completely innocent activities that would not be illegal but for the person’s presence on the registry.
The bill also imposes criminal liability on the business that brings in the employee or volunteer who does not perform a background check on them. That might be doable for a mall, but what about a small non-profit? They might forego bringing in character for the children, rather than incur the expense and criminal liability.
Do we need another law like this on the books?
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