Raising kids is more than just feeding and housing them. Editorials we’ve written are filled with examples of where we, as a society, have failed. Whether we are talking about how Erin Andrews was treated, sexual assault in our society, treating each other with respect or the sex offender registry, we believe all of these are tied together in the quest to raise good citizens. We also believe the sex offender registry helps keep our kids – and community – safe.
It seems some people don’t like what we have to say. We received some backlash from our March 13 editorial about the sex offender registry. People complained that our opinions were flawed because they have facts that disprove our assertions. We stand by our opinions and ask that you, the reader, learn about these topics and form your own opinions.
We had some people who were outraged at our support of the sex offender registry. Is the registry process perfect? Probably not. There isn’t much in life that is perfect. But what do we do to protect our children?
Sexual abuse and assault is more common than you want to believe. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Just as we said about raising kids with good manners, respect for others and without misogynist tendencies, we need to do a better job protecting them from predators. The registry is one of the tools available to do that.
Some are worried about the rights of the sex offenders and their families. But what about the rights of the victims and their families, the rights of our citizens or the rights of possibly future victims? Others have said the registry creates hatred and violence which is directed at the offenders. Believing in the registry does not make it O.K. to harass, attack or intimidate those on the registry. The behavior goes against all we’ve written about. All people should be treated with respect and common courtesy.
The sex offender registry is an example of when rights collide; the right of the sex offender, the right of the victim and the right of society. So whose right takes precedent? Isn’t it our moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable members of our society? If we don’t, what does it say about us as a country? The editorial board believes the rights of the victims, and the protection thereof, outweigh any perceived infringement of the rights of the criminals.
The very nature of sex crimes and the lack of reporting also creates flaws in the “facts” related to claims about recidivism rates. Sexual crimes are reported far less than other types of crimes. The National Research Council estimates 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 68 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. The discrepancy in the numbers doesn’t change the fact that sex crimes are not reported nearly enough.
Because these numbers very greatly, even the most conservative estimate still skews the statistics so greatly that it seems nearly impossible to draw any conclusions on recidivism. How can groups claim there is low recidivism if the majority of these crimes are not even reported?
The Department of Justice reports on their website that, “due to the frequency with which sex crimes are not reported to police, the disparity between the number of sex offenses reported and those solved by arrest, and the disproportionate attrition of certain sex offenses and sex offenders within the criminal justice system, researchers widely agree that observed recidivism rates are underestimates of the true re-offense rates of sex offenders.”
Other complaints we received were that the registry doesn’t do any good because a large percentage of these crimes involve family members. While it is true that most sexual offenses are committed by someone the victim knows, that doesn’t alleviate the need, in our opinion for the registry.
Whether it’s your neighbor, cousin or a stranger in another neighborhood, we believe that as in all things, knowledge is power.
Whether it’s monitoring your children’s computers, phones and apps, knowing where they are at all times, knowing who their friends are, educating them on what to do in situations where they are vulnerable and knowing who the sex offenders are in your neighborhood, we believe we all need to do better.