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).
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.
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
- I CHECK FIRST with my parents, guardians, or other trusted adults before going anywhere, helping anyone, accepting anything, or getting into a car.
- I TAKE A FRIEND with me when going places or playing outside.
- I TELL people "NO" if they try to touch me or hurt me. It’s OK for me to stand up for myself.
- 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 email@example.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.