When it comes to protecting children, it truly takes a village. Or, it should. Especially when it comes to keeping children safe from sex offenders. The mere mention of a child sex offender can conjure up uncontrollable emotions. The reality of a child sex offender frequenting your neighborhood sometimes warrants a drastic response.
What to do with child sex offenders is not an easy topic to discuss. Typically, it isn't an everyday debate if they are not in my backyard or NIMBY. But, what can a citizen do when they learn a registered child sex offender is spending a considerable amount of time in an area where children might frequent? And when it appears the sex offender might have a right to be in that area.
One local man's discovery of a convicted child sex offender hanging around and possibly living near his home led to a crusade to protect his and other children in his neighborhood. He found a cache of tools and electronic parts hidden near a bike and walking path. He photographed them along with the man's profile on the state sex offender registration website and a copy of the sex offender's local registration that indicated he was homeless.
After getting a less than satisfactory response from law enforcement, the father took his dilemma to social media. The offender is a 70 year-old homeless man whose last conviction was 21 years ago. One offense included use of a weapon and a 5-year-old victim.
Granted, no one wants a person with a penchant for unlawful sex acts with a child lurking in their community. But, society has said the man served his time for his crime and is free to roam about the neighborhood. As much as we all agree child sex crimes are as low as a human can go, the law doesn't deem such offenders worthy of being put away forever. The offender gets his or her life back. The victim never does.
If convicted, after a few years in the slammer, sex offenders are free to return to society. Of course, there are a few restrictions. They must register with local authorities. They are not supposed to be within predetermined proximity of places where children frequent. They are not allowed on social media.
So, how does one man make sure his children are safe? Who else will help make sure the guy doesn't find another victim? Why can't this creep be moved to another neighborhood? Well, honestly, because this offender is not in our backyard. Or so, we might think. There are hundreds of registered sex offenders in our county. It is only because of this one citizen's vigilance, that we are aware of this particular one hanging out on a bike trail.
And when the father asks for help, there is none available. The offender can't be arrested just because he exists. He is homeless and that, in itself, is not a crime. If the sex offender has not committed a crime or a violation of his release, what can law enforcement do? The Good Book says we should tie a heavy stone around the child sex offender's neck and drop him in the deepest part of the sea, but we are selective when it comes to the Good Book.
This case is just another example of the often repeated story about four citizens named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry with that because it was Everybody's job.
Until Everybody steps up, it is your job to protect your children and your neighborhood against offenders that society says have the right to be there.
Sigmund Freud said, "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection."
This one father's actions reaffirms that.