Families need to keep their children safe from sexual predators. The National Sex Offenders Registry allows you to search for paedophiles in your neighbourhood. The predator's name, address, photograph and other information, can be viewed online. You can also receive text or e-mail alerts if a sexual offender moves into your neighbourhood. The federal law requiring authorities to disclose information regarding registered sex offenders is known as the Sexual Offender Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994. It is commonly referred to as Megan's Law, after a 7-year-old girl named Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a neighbour who was a known sex offender. Each state, territory or tribe, has its own registry, accessible online.
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Things you need
- Access to the Internet
Access The Federal Bureau of Investigation website, which links you to state, territory or tribe, sexual offender registries. A number of websites, such as Family Watchdog, offer links to the registry. There are now iPhone applications where you can connect to the registry through your iPhone.
Search by street, city or town, or postcode. A map will show sex offenders in your area. The data provided depends on the state registry. The basic information includes a photograph and description of the offender, convictions, aliases, and addresses. Some states, such as California, allow you to search for sex offenders located near a school or public park. Certain states, such as Alaska, also provide the name and address of an offender's employer, or vehicle and number plate information.
Search by name, if you suspect that someone you know is a convicted child abuser. An individual may be listed in more than one county or state, if they have been convicted in a different jurisdiction. Make sure that you have the correct spelling of their name.
Learn the law. People convicted of specific sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders with their local law enforcement agency. They must inform the registry of their whereabouts and annually update any information regarding their living arrangements. Violent offenders must update the registry every 90 days. If a paedophile is incarcerated, the registry will list his release date and the offender must provide an address to the Department of Justice.
Use any information you find with caution. You must agree to a disclaimer, which usually states that you cannot use information accessed through the registry, to harass, intimidate, or threaten a registrant, or their family or friends. While it is understandable that no one wants such a person in their midst, it is preferable that their address is known to the public. The best recourse is to keep a close eye on your children and all children in the neighbourhood. Report any suspicious activity to the police.
Tips and warnings
- If you have knowledge that contradicts the information you find on the registry, contact your state registry and provide them with the details.
- Like every database, there may be errors. Some paedophiles may be non compliant or wanted. Names may be spelt wrong, or erroneous information may be posted.
- Never take the law into your own hands. Vigilantism will only cause legal problems for you.
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