Sheriff’s Department clarifies what the law says about registered sex offenders.
In the wake of pedophile Jack McClellan’s media bombardment, many have turned to internet websites like meganslaw.ca.gov to check for registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Much to their surprise, they have come to see a list of names pop up in places like Stevenson Ranch and Valencia, some very near schools.
After learning of such instances, parents are now asking the question: “What can I do to protect my children?” KHTS AM-1220 has heard from many residents who have different perceptions about what the law says and how to combat convicted sex offenders in their neighborhoods.
KHTS spoke one on one with Detective Winslow of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who is in charge of the registered sexual offenders in Santa Clarita.
First, he clarified the law as it pertains to how close a sex offender can be to a school. He said that the law only restricts those convicted of child molestation or re-occurring child molestation that are on active parole to live no closer than ½ mile from any school with children kindergarten through twelfth grade. This only includes those on active parole, not probation.
No other offenders have such a restriction written in the law itself.
Second, it is important to note that approximately 25% of sexual offenders are not listed in public disclosure resources. This is determined by the nature of their crime, and while their names or whereabouts are not made public, they are still required to register with their local law enforcement agency.
Every convicted sex offender is required to register and update their information at least once a year. Some criminals are required to so more often, such as sexually violent criminals.
When it comes to be known that a sexual offender is living in a particular neighborhood, residents often feel the need to do something to make everyone aware. One caller to KHTS said that she was told to plaster the offender’s picture all over the neighborhood. Detective Winslow, however, cautions against that particular act, because it may leave the resident liable for civil law suits.
Instead, he says, simply tell everyone to look at the Megan’s Law website. That way, each resident is getting the information they need on their own. This will help to keep everyone alert to the situation.
To help keep your children safe, Detective Winslow suggests keeping track of where your child is throughout the day. Establishing check-in times and role playing through dangerous situations can be a good way to help prevent a sexual attack.
Also, Detective Winslow says, keep an eye out for changes in your child’s behavior. This could indicate a problem.
It would also serve the community for people to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior around places where children congregate, like parks or playing fields. If you notice an individual who appears to have no business there, jot down as much information about them as you can. This can include a vehicle description, license plate, or a physical description. Then, forward that information to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s station personnel, and detectives or deputies will follow up with an investigation to see if there is any threat from that individual.
While most attention is given to strangers, it is important to note that 90% of child victims personally know their attacker. An estimated half of child attacks are perpetrated by a family member. Furthermore, this trend continues as 80% of adult victims know their attackers.
It is for this reason that parents are encouraged to speak to their children to underline the privacy of their “private parts.”
So while there may be little residents can do from preventing a sexual offender from moving into their neighborhoods, there is much residents can do by staying alert, vigilant and educated.