By Sandy . . . We are sometimes asked, “Don’t I have the right to know if someone who committed a sex crime lives near me?”
The simple answer is “No.”
There is no such right given anywhere. In fact, when we think of rights, we generally and correctly think of our Constitution, and that document, rather than granting the “right to know,” grants instead the “right not to know,” better termed the “right to privacy.”
Knowing where persons who have been convicted of sexual crimes live carries with it no value. You do not know where the person who plans to break into your home; to hijack your car from your driveway in the dark, killing you if necessary; to sell your children drugs on the way to school lives. And incidentally, those things –with the exception of the killing — are statistically more likely to happen than a person on a registry committing a new sexual offense.
You do not know which of your relatives or friends or your child’s peers or authority figures might sexually molest your child, or might already have done or be doing so, and that is a far, far more likely scenario than it happening at the hands of a stranger who is on the registry.
So instead of focusing on who might commit a crime against you or your children, focus on what you can do to eliminate or reduce the risk. Have strong doors and locks and a barking dog; flood your driveway with brilliant lights and be aware of your surroundings; start anti-drug conversations with your children young, encourage them in extra-curricular activities, and stay involved with their school activities and who their friends are; and starting young, teach them the parts of their body that no one may touch without their permission, who to go to if someone is doing something that makes them uncomfortable, and that no one has the right to ask them to keep secrets from you.
Doing everything in your power to keep the lines of communication open and letting them know you love them and that nothing could change that will go a hundred time further in keeping them safe than a lifetime of looking at the sex offender registry.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.