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What You Need to Know About Sex Offenders

The police chief offers information and advice.

I am always receiving requests for information on registered sex offenders in Town so I thought it would be prudent to rerun this particular column. I’ve also included some ideas on talking to children about personal safety provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). 

QUESTION:

I was recently notified that a sex offender moved close by.  Could you tell me exactly how is a sex offender classified and how can I find out if there are any other sex offenders living in the area.  I have young children and think this information is helpful to parents.

ANSWER:

A sex offender is any person who resides, works or attends an institution of higher learning in Massachusetts and who has been convicted of a sex offense, or who has been adjudicated as a youthful offender or as a delinquent juvenile by reason of a sex offense, or a person released from incarceration or parole or probation supervision or custody with the Department of Youth Services for such a conviction or adjudication, or a person who has been adjudicated a sexually dangerous person or a person released from civil commitment on or after Aug. 1, 1981.

Sex offenders are classified according to the degree of dangerousness they pose to the public and their likelihood to re-offend. A Level 1 offender has been classified as a “low risk.” A Level 2 offender has been classified as a “moderate risk.” A Level 3 offender has been classified as a “high risk.”

Before an offender can be finally classified, he/she must be offered the opportunity for a hearing to determine his/her degree of dangerousness and likelihood for re-offense. As a result, information pertaining to a sex offender will not be available to the public unless and until he/she has been given the opportunity for a hearing. Once an offender is finally classified as a Level 2 or a Level 3 Offender, his/her sex offender registry information will be available to the public.

Any member of the public who is at least 18 may request sex offender information. The information will be provided to any person who is seeking the information for his/her own protection or for the protection of a child under the age of 18 or for the protection of another person whom the requesting person has responsibility, care or custody.

A person may request sex offender information by going to the web site of the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/sorb or coming into the police department. After presenting proper identification, the requester must complete a sex offender request form containing the name and address of the requester, reason for the request and date and time of request.  Information on Level 3 sex offenders is also posted on the ’s web site. 

The following information is provided by NCMEC at www.missingkids.com:

How Do I Teach My Child About Personal Safety? Many parents and guardians feel challenged to keep their children safer in our fast-paced and global society. They may wonder at what age they can begin teaching their children about personal safety.

Unfortunately, “one size” doesn’t fit all. A child’s ability to understand safety skills and put them into practice is determined not just by age, but also by the child’s educational and developmental levels. To truly learn new safety skills, children need to model, rehearse and practice the skills to incorporate them into their daily lives. 

Here are some approaches:

      Speak to your child in a calm and reassuring way.  Fear is not an effective teaching tool; confidence is.

       Speak openly about safety issues.  If you approach child safety openly, your children will be more likely to come to you with problems or concerns. 

       Don’t confuse children by warning against “strangers.” Danger to children is much greater from someone you or they know than from a “stranger.”

      Teach children that no one has the right to force, trick, or pressure them into doing things they don’t want to do.

      Practice safety skills by creating “what if” scenarios. An outing to a mall or the park can serve as a chance for children to practice safety skills, such as checking with you before they go anywhere or do anything, and locating adults who can help if they need assistance.

      Supervise your children. It is vital to their protection and safety. Children should not be put in the position of making safety choices if they are not old enough or skilled enough to make those choices.

      Check out adults who have access to your children. The more involved you are in your child’s life, the less likely it is that your child will seek attention from other, potentially dangerous adults. 

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has a signature safety publication, Knowing My Rules for Safety, to help parents and guardians teach personal safety skills to children. The rules are simple and concise and provide encouragement and options for children who need an adult’s help.

Knowing My Rules for Safety

  1. I CHECK FIRST with my parents, guardians, or other trusted adults before going anywhere, helping anyone, accepting anything, or getting into a car.
  2. I TAKE A FRIEND with me when going places or playing outside.
  3. I TELL people "NO" if they try to touch me or hurt me. It’s OK for me to stand up for myself.
  4. I TELL my trusted adult if anything makes me feel sad, scared, or confused.

Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519. You may also email your questions or comments to chief@graftonpolice.com. Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons. 

Normand A. Crepeau, Jr. is Grafton's Chief of Police.

Shana Rowan January 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Please do not rely on information about sex offenders provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Unfortunately, they have been scrutinized in the past for making up statistics specifically about sex crime. Sex offender recidivism has consistently proven to be extremely low (much lower than almost all other violent and non-violent crimes) and the overwhelming majority of children are sexually abused by someone they know who has never been convicted of a sex crime and therefore not on any registry (source: US Dept of Justice). The very summarized answer is that the person who's most likely to be a danger to your child isn't someone on the registry, it's someone who sees them every day and who seems like a perfectly normal, friendly person with a job and a family. It is not as simple as NCMEC will have you believe. Please visit www.endsexcrime.org for an extraordinary list of studies, research and studies with sources for prevention tips.
Derive Progress January 24, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Fortunately, much of the public is not being fooled anymore with the hysteria and twisted facts and statistics presented about sex offenders. Politicians and organizations like NCMEC present this distorted information just so they can look busy. Most people that abuse children are stepfathers, mothers' boyfriends, uncles, family friends, coaches, pastors, teachers - and hardly strangers. if you want to protect your kids, look in your own house!
Shelly Stow January 24, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Shana and Derive are absolutely correct in what they say. The risk to children for any type of abuse or assault, including sexual, is overwhelmingly from someone close in their lives and from someone who has no past history in the legal system as a sex offender. They are also correct that the NCMEC is not scrupulous in the use of numbers or statistics that support its existence. All of that said, the four "Knowing My Rules for Safety" given above are good ones. In regard to number 4, however, children need to be encouraged to have a choice of several trusted adults, not just one. Sometimes the one who should be most trusted is the one doing the abusing.
Kel8856 January 25, 2012 at 04:39 PM
This may be true but the registry actually helped my family recognize a SO. Parents please look into radKIDS and The Joyful Child Foundation. See if you can get this training in your kids school. It's a wonderful program about teaching your kids without fear. 83% of kids that yell or fight back, can escape.
Shelly Stow January 26, 2012 at 01:35 PM
That is no doubt a valuable program, but since it appears to address the instance of a child being taken or restrained by someone they do not know, it will help, at the very, very most, 83% of from 5 to 10% of child molestation situations. The other 90-95% of the situations involve relatives and close associates of the children. To have an effect in these situations, different types of educational and informational programs are needed, so please look into them also. And yes, I am sure that the registry helped your family recognize a registrant. Was that registrant posing a threat to someone in your family? If not, how was this helpful?
Valerie Parkhurst March 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Now this is humorous, a bunch of broads banging sex offenders want US to not take the statistics from "National Center for Missing and Exploited Children" seriously then goes on to insinuate their stats are made up? You really dont have any shame do you Shana? Thats funny coming from members of RSOL aka NAMBLA. The general public who stumbles on this forum should have the benefit of why you feel that way, dont ya think? Shana's bed partner is a convicted sexually violent offender whose victim was 6 years old. She will attempt to circumvent that little diddy by saying her boyfriend was only 12 at the time of the incident. What she fails to mention is her pillow partner was abusing the little girl at age 12 and finally caught as an adult, tried and convicted as an adult. Then when all else fails she swears he is the way he is due to the fact "HIS mother abused him" of course we only have Shana's opinion on that, its obvious the family wont have anything to do with Shana or their perverted son. Shana at her above cohorts want sex with children mainstream and repercussions abolished for such acts. Shana and Shelly need their own registries
Valerie Parkhurst March 30, 2013 at 11:43 PM
The REAL RECIDIVISM STUDIES 1) One approach is to extrapolate a true crime rate from victimization surveys and compare that with reported crime, typically finding that roughly 90% of sex crimes go unreported. Some put the estimate even higher.. 2)One of the main problems with recidivism studies is that all studies measure it differently and define it differently," 3)One long-term study of sex offenders from Canada measured recidivism seven ways. The highest rate, 88.3%, included prior, undetected sexual offenses confessed by first-time convicts. 4)But Ohio Northern University criminologist Keith Durkin points to anonymous surveys in which sex offenders admit to as many undetected offenses as the number for which they have been caught. He views 50% as a "conservative" estimate for recidivism. 5)Young, violent offenders who suffer from mental illness, use alcohol or drugs and target very young victims "outside their family" pose the biggest risk. kinda blows that 1994 RSOL 5% BS right out the window Uh? I suppose that strange Uncle Joe can be invited back to the family barbeques now that we know the real facts on recidivism..

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