National Laws Dealing with Sex Offenders

Yes, there are some bad people out there. They need psychological help, like any criminal, to understand why they did what they did. They need to do their time, and pay their debt to society.

But some of the opinions expressed in articles on this site are more frightening to me than the sex offenders are! It is clear that you are speaking from pure, over-the-top emotion, and not logic.

If we looked at the real statistics on this issue, we would see that there is not a child molester living on every corner. We would see that these crimes happen pretty rarely, actually. It is very strange that when they do happen, the news media hypes up the event for many days, as if they are trying to whip up a frenzy of fear and loathing among Joe and Jane American.

A man in my town was in the paper recently. He had to move, because he was too close to a school. The paper labeled him a predator and every other scary term they could think of, week after week. Finally (I wonder who forced them) they printed a few sentences on what he had actually done. He had been tickling his niece or step-daughter on one occasion, many years ago, and accidentally grabbed a private area of her body. He was startled by his own action, and felt horrible. In fact, he turned himself in to the authorities, and his life was basically destroyed from that moment on. All of the fear-fed, overreacting paranoia and insanity in our society said “he can’t be rehabilitated”, “he’s a monster”, and “he should be tracked for the rest of his life”. One has to wonder about all of the names on these registries . . . what did they really do? What is the real likelihood of them re-offending?

I have three children, and I’m glad that I had a chance to put this into perspective for them after reading about that man. Yes, it’s bad when someone tries to touch your private parts. But it’s bad when they touch your elbow or your nose without your permission, too. Being touched by someone is not the end of the world, though. Tell someone, yes, and we’ll do something about it, but there’s no need to go nuts.

Why is this the only crime we treat like this? Why do we not hold a robbery conviction, or a violent, drunken altercation over someone’s head for the rest of their lives, assuming that they will definitely do it again when they get a chance? It’s ridiculous and illogical to assume that one crime is an automatic lifetime of punishment, while all other crimes (except maybe murder) carry temporary consequences.

A learned psychologist once told me that in their opinion, more damage is done to a child’s psyche by their parents’ freak-out reaction to the abuse than was done by the abuse itself. This is a facet of the problem that no one seems to talk about. Bad things happen to children. They get diseases, they break arms and legs goofing around, they get hit by cars – but when those bad things happen, their parents and loved ones don’t treat them like they are permanently damaged and soiled for life. Kids can read your reactions and your emotions. When you project unhinged, uncontrolled revulsion, they will soon feel that they have lost the only support structure that they knew. The ones in their lives who should minimize the impact of the damage and help the child heal actually maximize the damage. Maybe this is a major reason the child can take a lifetime to heal from such an experience.

Do the parents need to freak out that heavily? Is this type of crime really the end of the world for their family? I’m not saying it isn’t horrible, because it is, but there are worse things . . .

In fact, there are dozens of things out there that are far more likely to happen to your children, and these can be far more dangerous. Diseases, falling, accidental firearm discharge, motor-vehicle accidents, physical abuse from their own parents, being hit by a drunk driver while riding their bike, accidental poisoning – all of these things are far more likely to happen to your child than kidnap, rape and murder. Why aren’t we working harder to do something about these things, as well as protecting them from the small number of real predators out there? Why the over-emphasis on this particular crime?

Because it’s an easy button to push. It’s an emotional hot topic. It sells papers. It makes people watch the news, and advertisers love that. It sells web services that you can use to look up offenders in your area. It sells security systems. People make a lot of money by keeping you afraid.

I have the deepest sympathy for families that have had to deal with this issue, but I think that those who cry out for tougher and tougher laws against this small minority of criminals would better serve society by focusing their energy on more valuable activities.

Please don’t take my word for any of this. Go to the CDC website, or other websites that show actual statistics on children’s issues. I am a parent, and I am concerned about this issue, but I try to keep it in its proper perspective with all of the other things that are out there that deserve more of my concern.