A Mom Demands School Move Daughter’s Bus Stop, for Fear of Sex Offender

Folks — Here’s a news story of one mom’s fear with the usual missing link: analysis and commentary from someone who can explain whether the fear is justified. The story from WAVY:

Gina Brannon wants the Virginia Beach School District to move her daughter’s bus stop so the 10-year-old doesn’t have to walk past a registered sex offender’s home.

“Its like dangling a carrot in front of a hungry animal,” she told WAVY.com.

Brannon asked the her daughter’s school to change the stop, but her request was denied.

And here’s a response from Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry, which discusses the harm of sex offender hysteria and explains why a rational approach is so important:

Gina Brannon’s fear over her daughter’s bus stop’s proximity to the home of a registered sex offender is understandable – but misplaced. WAVY TV’s Stephanie Harris also probably thought she was doing the right thing by exposing the situation.

The uncomfortable truth is that there are “potentially dangerous people” everywhere – in schools, neighborhoods, churches and sometimes even in family photo albums. It’s well-established that about 95% of all child sex abuse victims are abused by someone they know, sometimes by someone they love and trust, and who has no previous conviction for a sex offense. The same studies have also found conclusively that sex offenders actually have very low recidivism rates. According to the FBI, abductions of children by strangers are very rare. Abductions by a registered sex offender are even rarer.

The sex offender registry of today has ballooned exponentially to include hundreds of thousands adults AND children, convicted of any one of over 200 crimes that are now registerable offenses. The faces of older teenagers and young men in consensual relationships with underage partners sit next to the mugshot of someone who committed a violent rape or molested dozens of children.

Truly dangerous child predators now comprise a small minority of registrants. The majority of offenders will never re-offend, and are living with their families, trying to move on. Our one-size-fits-all approach to those on the registry only places unnecessary hardship on former offenders who are law-abiding – as well as their families. Worse, the small number of truly dangerous offenders continue to fall through the cracks because resources are spread so thin.

Educating yourself and your children and helping them recognize the signs of abuse will keep them far safer than moving a bus stop. – S. R.


Is a bus stop near a sex offender dangerous?

Is a bus stop near a sex offender dangerous?

92 Responses to A Mom Demands School Move Daughter’s Bus Stop, for Fear of Sex Offender

  1. Ben August 23, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Get it into your thick head, people. Sex offender is not the same as child molester. The fact 200 offenses can get you on the list means only a fraction of them are child molesters. You know: those low recidivism offenders they talked about in the article.

  2. Eileen August 23, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Does it indicate anywhere what *this* specific person has done? That would frame the whole discussion a little better.

  3. Nerd-faced Girl August 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    “According to the FBI, abductions of children by strangers are very rare. Abductions by a registered sex offender are even rarer.”

    This means that the precious 10-year-old referred to is LESS likely to be abducted by the person in that house than any other on the block.

  4. Marianna August 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    The comments on the WAVY site are even worse than the story itself. A lot of them seem to be saying that Ms. Brannon is a horrible mother for even thinking of allowing her 10-year-old to walk to the bus stop alone. Ugh.

  5. pentamom August 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Just a nitpick on a very common mistake: sex offenders can’t comprise registrants. For that to be true, a single registrant would have to be made up of multiple predators.

    To keep it straight, remember the “comprise” is a synonym for “include or consist of,” NOT a synonym for “compose” or “make up.”

    Incorrect: Six chapters comprise the book.

    Correct: The book comprises six chapters.

    Believe it or not, the word you want in that context is “are.” “Child predators now ARE a small minority of registrants.” Or you could use “make up,” too.

  6. Jessica August 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Someone’s offense as it states on the registry is not that person’s offense the way it happened. It rarely ever is.

  7. QuicoT August 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Can she document one case of an actual child being endangered by the act of walking past a registered sex offender’s home in broad daylight? Even one?

  8. Mike Henderson August 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    I find myself asking the following questions:

    If moving a bus stop away from an offender’s residence a reasonable measure, then are they not a danger anyone, and not just school children?

    If the answer to the above question is yes, then why are they not in jail?

    If the answer to the above question is they are indeed a threat but to only school children, then why are they not in jail?

    When a person is convicted of a crime, terms of punishment are established by the courts. These offenders lists appear to have a vigilante side affect to them.

  9. Karen Hammons August 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    This is brilliantly communicated by Shana. Thank you for sharing her voice of reason!!

  10. Gpo August 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    We had a situation where our bus stop was directly across the street from a SO. We choose to have our daughter go to the other corner. We live in the middle of the street and there was a stop at each corner. That was when she was younger. We did end up letting go to that corner when she was a couple of years older. No huge need to make a big deal about it.

    The interesting thing is the guy has lived at the house for 11 years and I have seen him once. We really don’t think much about him now.

    With the ballooning of the registry I wander how many people in the US are on it now.

  11. Charles Lloyd August 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Really an excellent point about over reacting. I have a daughter and I have to admit that knowing she was walking past a sex offender’s house every day might give me pause. Thinking about it further, I would research who the offender is and the nature of their crime. If the crime was anything but an abduction(s), then I think I would be unjustified in raising a stink.

  12. marie August 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Gpo said: With the ballooning of the registry I wander how many people in the US are on it now.

    It is over 750,000 by now, maybe 800,000. That’s a lot of street corners to avoid, even if you do it with no fuss.

  13. Maggie August 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Since people can be put on the sex registry for things like:

    Public urination
    Skinny dipping

    The list is useless. Most adults I know have committed one or more of the above offenses.

    Ever pull over on the side of the road because you just had to pee?

    Peed behind a tree on a camping trip?

    Took a midnight dip in the nude?

    Had sex in a outdoor location?

    Forgot to close the curtains before changing your clothes?

    Got drunk at a party and mooned someone?

    You too could end up on a sex offenders list!

  14. Peter August 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Also, Maggie, you can end up on the list for crimes that involve sex but have nothing to do with young children. If I rape an adult woman, I end up on the sex offender list (and rightly so), but this does not make me a threat to your 6 year-old daughter or son.

  15. Madelin Farfan August 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Gina Brannon.. Virgina Beach is a bit of snob magnet community to begin with, so I’m not very surprised to learn of this silly request to “move a bus stop”. As if the school district, City Counsel and Chief of Police have nothing better to do all day than pacify already over-protected VaBeach ‘soccer moms’ and their fear-drenched children from substantiated “danger”. Give it a rest will you Brannon? Kids are snatched from bus stops. They are usually molested within their own homes by RELATIVE and FAMILY FRIENDS. That Gina, is where you need to start becoming more vigilant. Your misplaced fear clearly confirms you need further educating in this area.

  16. Madelin Farfan August 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    (Lets try this again..Why NO editing tools on these messages?) #2 [corrected version]

    Gina Brannon.. Virgina Beach is already a bit of ‘snob magnet’ community to begin with, so I’m not very surprised to learn of your silly request to “move a bus stop”. As if the school district, City Counsel and Chief of Police have nothing better to do all day than pacify an already over-protected VaBeach ‘soccer moms’ and her fear-drenched child from UN-substantiated “danger”. Give it a rest will you Brannon? Kids AREN’T snatched from bus stops. They are usually molested within their own homes by RELATIVES and FAMILY FRIENDS. That Gina, is where you need to start becoming more vigilant. Your misplaced fear clearly confirms you need further educating in this area.

  17. Steve S August 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    What states will put you on the registry for urinating in public? I have heard more that a few people try and say that you could in Michigan, but I then point out that there is no state crime called “urinating in public” and while a few municipalities have it on their books, it will not get you on the registry. In most places, things like mooning and streaking can get you an indecent exposure charge, but most places will only put you on the registry if this is not your first offense.

    That being said, unless you know the particulars of a person’s crime, you really can’t ascertain the danger.

  18. Sheri August 23, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    If any of you lose a child to a predator, you’ll be thinking differently about this whole thing. God keep you and yours safe.

  19. Puzzled August 23, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Geez the comments on the original source are bad. Not only should a 10 year old never be alone (they’re outraged that the child might be home alone before walking to school and think the mother should hire someone to walk her to school), and no child should ever walk to school/schoolbus – but also, anyone on the registry should be moved to a desert island. There’s also a few attack dogs calling anyone who dissents a predator or predator-sympathizer.

  20. oncefallendotcom August 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Number of kids killed/ permanently missing via “stererotypical kidnappings” in a year: 45

    Number of kids who coke to death on a hot dog per year: 77.

    Oscar Meyer is more dangerous than a registered sex offender, maybe we should register the guy.

  21. oncefallendotcom August 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    *choke to death, not “coke” to death. I’m not talking about Charlie Sheen’s kids.

  22. Reziac August 23, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    A few articles for those who don’t believe what trivial crap will get you on a sex offender list:




    Note that two teens, boyfriend and girlfriend (both underage) were convicted of “child pornography” for taking nude photos of themselves and sending them TO EACH OTHER. Yes, if you’re a teen and send your teenage boyfriend a naughty photo of yourself, that is “kiddie porn”, and you are now a “sex offender”.

  23. Jess August 23, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Sheri, I’m sorry to hear of your loss. Unfortunately you can’t assume everyone with a similar title is going to do the same thing. I’ve been a long term victim of sexual assault, and a SAVI advocate, and I even know that one size fits all doesn’t work.

  24. A Concerned Parent August 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    What I find the most interesting with some of these comments, especially from those folks who are attempting to “educate,” is that is sounds VERY much like a group of folks without children of their own to worry about.

    You preach about people not making assumptions about those on the registry, yet you fill your responses with disingenuous rhetoric about how parents are “stupid” for having concerns, however misguided those concerns may be. My suggestion to you is to have children of your own, and see what you then have to worry about.

    Your logic is akin to those childless “Child Experts” that want to teach parents how to raise their children. If you do not have that experience personally, no amount of “book smarts” is going to allow you to effectively teach someone else to raise a child.

  25. Donna August 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Steve S – Urinating in public is just a public indecency charge. The registry varies drastically state by state. While public indecency may not get you on the registry in some states, it may in others. And the whole thing is based on where you live, not where you were convicted. So you could be convicted of public indecency in Georgia (where you don’t have to register) and move to a different state many years later that does require you to register for that offense and suddenly have to register.

  26. Jeff August 23, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Man I always hate when it’s Virginia crazies making the news/blogs. I was so sad for that month that it seemed like Virginia was making every episode of the Daily Show and/or Colbert Report. I’m a total homer on issues like this.

  27. Jenn Seiders August 23, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    Yes, because having an adult at the bus stop to supervise the elementary kids is too much trouble for most parents. In my neighborhood, we take turns at the bus stop mainly so the kids won’t tear up the yard that belongs to Mr.”Get of my lawn!”

  28. Jeff August 23, 2013 at 11:49 pm #


    Will we be thinking differently for purely emotional reasons, or will we be thinking differently after we have dealt with these emotions and reflected upon the events soberly?

    If a very rare incident happened to my child, I probably would also think about what I could have done differently to give myself the illusion that I could have 100% prevented it or something like it from happening. However, this would be purely emotional. If I thought about the situation rationally, then I would likely realize that I would do exactly what I did because odds are extremely against it happening in the first place.

  29. Jeff August 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    @A Concerned Parent

    Honestly, I’ve seen very little of that around here even though I thought I would when I first got here. I’ve seen very few if any people here claim that being concerned is a problem. What they say is that being disproportionately worried about rare events AND acting on these concerns in a way that is not developmentally appropriate for your child is a problem. I can’t tell you about any comments on the WAVY site, but I suggest that you explore this site a bit more to see what the people around here actually believe.

  30. Kimberly August 24, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    You would love one of my Moms. We just had meet the teacher.

    My school is in a subdivision built late 60’s early 70’s. The roads are narrow and people use the road we are on as a shortcut and speed. I was nearly hit by the side mirror of a car passing me as I walked back to school after taking a field trip permission slip to a student (they had been out of town due to a funeral and the trip was the day after they got back) Last year they tore up the street put in new sewers and water lines. When they repaved they added SIDEWALKS.

    One of my parents is recruiting other parents near her to have the kids walk to and from school. She concerned about the apartments rumored to be full of gang members, drug dealers, and sex offenders – no. She is worried they might dawdle and be late for school. She is going to walk them the first few days to make sure she is getting the timing right. After that she wants to know if they are late. If they are the penalty is they have to walk with MOM for 2 days. She did tell them they could dawdle on the way home. The 2 brothers and their friends are so excited.

  31. Really Bad Mum August 24, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    @concerned parent, first of all most of the people that comment are parents, some have even done it so successfully that they are now grandparents, and yes we do worry about our kids, we worry about things like, are they behaving, using their manners, are they learning life skills, even things like are they mature enough to do the things we think they should, is the law going to allow us to raise them to be adults or are we going to be forced to raise them to be adult size infants? We question our judgments, we weigh the ‘real risks against media hype and imagined fears’ we worry that we have made the right choice for our kids and for society…
    So please don’t comment before you educate yourself on the subject or the people involved as it makes you come across as ignorant and gullible which I’m sure you are not .

  32. Rachel August 24, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    Even if it was someone that actually molested/raped a child/teenager,it wouldn’t really make sense. What if another kid had to walk past the sex offenders house,so hers wouldn’t? What if the sex offender moved,or another moved in somewhere else? What if moving the bus stop meant the kids had to cross heavy traffic instead?
    I don’t think it would be a good decision,and perhaps not even possible to move the bus stop anytime one of the children would come near a sex offenders home.
    Anyways what if the sex offender is not home,its not like if they really wanted to could travel to where there are kids.

  33. Melanie August 24, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    I can’t express how excited I am that the school responded sensibly to this request. That is not the result I requested. Unfortunately, the writing of the article makes the school seem a bit unconcerned, but at the same time, it preserves the privacy of the registrant in question and doesn’t put more attention on him/her when the school has deemed this scenario not a risk. YAY.

  34. Warren August 24, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Will this mother want background checks on those that live near the new bus stop, should she win her insane battle?

  35. Really Bad Mum August 24, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    @Warren, don’t forget the evil bus driver, surely he has ulterior motives for driving the bus other then a job….

  36. lihtox August 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    @Really Bad Mum: Yes, and don’t forget to add: we worry that well-meaning “stranger danger” assemblies could end up scaring the bejeezus out of our kids and leave them timid wrecks to scared to face the world. Or that if our kids are in real trouble, they may be too scared of “strangers” to reach out to them for help.

  37. Really Bad Mum August 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    @lihtox.. Omg those damn stranger danger talks…. Sometimes I secretly wish mine would be kidnapped… Lol you know those times, when you’re sure their real father is satan himself… Lol

  38. Steve S August 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Donna, I can’t speak to any other state, as I only practice in Michigan. Indecent Exposure will get you on the list here, but only if it is aggravated indecent exposure. Urinating in public would not fall under this offense.

  39. SKL August 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Would people’s reaction be different if the sex offense published for that person was child molesting?

    A while ago I got a notice that there was one of those living right next to a park where my kids play. A group of trees separates his house from the climbing equipment. It would be easy for him to snatch a child from there if he wanted to. Granted, he would probably be the first person they would check after the fact, but is that enough of a deterrant?

    I sent a message to the authorities asking how it is that he is allowed to live next door to a park. I don’t know what ever happened after that.

  40. Really Bad Mum August 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    @SKL, yes it would be different ( at least mine would be) because that is a specific charge which involves children. Not some poor buggar who mooned his mates or a 5 year old who played doctors and nurses with the kid next door. But then again he may be bedridden and unable to be a threat, every situation is different

  41. Emily August 24, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    The school board made the right decision. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

  42. Donna August 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    @SKL – Not to me. People who have served their time, have served their time. If they aren’t in prison, they should have every right to live wherever the heck they want. If I don’t like my neighbors, I can move, but I shouldn’t have any right to tell others where to live. Likewise, if I don’t want my kid walking past a house for any reason, I can drive her or move but not make demands on other people.

    For the record, as far as I know every single one of my neighbors could be convicted child molesters. I’ve never even glanced at my local sex offender registry. Couldn’t possibly care less. If my daughter is going to be molested by a neighbor, there is about a 99% chance it will be by someone not on the sex offender registry. I’d rather focus on things that will avoid her falling prey to anyone rather than waste concern or energy on specific people (who as a group have an extremely low recidivism rate anyway).

  43. SKL August 24, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Donna, no, child molesters (excluding incest) actually have a high recidivism rate. I’ve seen figures from 24% to 53% depending on the study and the crime (same-sex vs. opposite sex), and these are said to be underestimated because many kids won’t report. What do you consider an “extremely low” recidivism rate?

  44. yvette August 25, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    There is one poster here who is lying through his teeth when he says he has seen STUDIES that show sex offenders have a high recidivism. I am writing a book and have read numerous studies and they ALL say that they have the lowest recidivism of any crime with the average around 10%. Actually the recidivism of incest is 4% once it becomes known in the family. The evidence is clear. All the money we spend on registries and police watching is wasted. When the family takes responsibility for their children, they are the safest. And as to the idea that the child is “ruined for life”, the evidence is coming out that simply is not the case as example after example is surfacing of women who grew up, ran companies and became community leaders…far from being emotional wrecks hysterics would have you believe.

  45. SKL August 25, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    yvette, I’m talking about the recidivism rate of child molesters only. If that wasn’t what this neighbor did, then it doesn’t apply in this particular case. However, if you’re doing research etc., you must be breaking it down between the different types of offenses, right? What are you seeing as the rate for child molesters other than those who commit incest?

  46. Warren August 25, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    Unless you are going to form a lynching party, and string em up, why bother checking the registry? I have never checked it, even on the most boring days. I do not understand why anyone looks at it.

    People that do check it, could you please explain why you do so.

  47. Donna August 25, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Actually, SKL, a criminal is considered a recidivist if he commits two crimes, similar or not. The statistics include child molesters who are arrested for ANYTHING after being convicted of child molestation, because they are in fact recidivists. The number of convicted child molesters who are subsequently convicted of child molestation or other sexual offenses is extremely low. The number of child molesters who go back to prison for some reason (failing to register, theft, etc.) is still less than for other criminals but not drastically. And my experience supports the true low statistics. Of the hundreds of child molesters our office handles, I can count on one hand the number of second offenses. I do not work in some city in the Twilight Zone. Just an average American town. But the truth doesn’t support continued panic.

  48. Donna August 25, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Another way recidivism statistics are manipulated is to consider simply return to prison rates without separating out those who return to prison for a new offense and those who return based on a violation of parole or probation. The vast majority of my clients will not complete a probation sentence without getting locked up at least once, even if they never commit another crime. Doing things like maintaining a job to pay fines and reporting someplace once a month on someone else’s schedule is simply not in their skill set.

  49. Yan August 25, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    @A concerned parent:

    you’re absolutely correct, I am not raising children, I am raising adults. I’ve spent a lot of the last 2 months abroad, and kids outside the US act like young adults. the go to the stord, they buh stuff, they walk home. little kids, kids who can barely see over the counter.

    yesterday I had a girl about 11 shoehorn herself into an elevator with 3 older men. No worries that any of us were sex offenders.

    When you talk to adults about the child paranoia in the US they roll their eyes and dismiss Americans as a bunch of idiots. The US is so sex obsessed in a bad way that we look insane to an outsider.

  50. Yan August 25, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    gah. Sorry for the atrcious apelling. I’m on a tablet without a real keyboard.

  51. J.T. Wenting August 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Mild case. Here the mother, and the local and even national media, and politicians, would demand the “sex offender” be turned out of his home, and persecuted to where it is impossible for him (always, they never do it when it’s a woman) to find a home anywhere in the country.
    Most victims of such end up suicide statistics, the few with the means flee the country and settle abroad under a new name, often after extensive plastic surgery. And now politicians are screaming that sex offenders should be deprived of their passports and driver’s licenses so they “can’t go to other countries and molest children there”.

  52. J.T. Wenting August 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    “With the ballooning of the registry I wander how many people in the US are on it now.”

    Estimates for the US vary but hover at around 10% of the population, give or take 2-3%.

  53. Really Bad Mum August 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    @ J.T. Wenting, IF the sex offender has raped/molested/killed a child, or a serial rapist keeps raping, or serial murderer etc etc, the IMO they have lost all and any rights, this is my opinion not the law. I think the problem starts when governments and “helpful” groups start to be percieved to be defending the rights of perpetrators rather then the rights of the victims. Then the real predators seem to be given a slap on the wrist while the knee-jerk laws made to shut up the general public penalise either non dangerous or mildly related misdemeanours. Any truly guilty person of a serious offence doesn’t have any sympathy from me, whether they are repeat offenders or not. Also I think the register would work for those pieces of scum, because I for one get to know my neighbours and allow my kids free range, so knowing that x has been in prison for raping his granddaughter woul be a useful tool, so I know not to allow my kids in x’s company unsupervised. It all comes down to a little bit of common sense..

  54. Abigail August 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    The woman should find some alternative instead of putting the burden on others. The responsibility to protect children falls on parents and it’s true that most abusers are family members or trusted adults, not strangers. Among all professions, public school teachers have one of the highest rates, so if this mother really wants to protect her daughter she would homeschool her.

  55. Donna August 25, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Abigail – Well since HOME is the most likely place to be molested, I’d say homeschooling is the most dangerous type of schooling under your theory.

    Really bad mum – The law doesn’t work that way. Once you’ve served your time, your sentence is over. I have no problem of being seen as a person who protects the rights of all individuals, the guilty included. The thing about protecting rights is that it almost always takes the form of protecting the rights of the guilty. What keeps cops from kicking in any door they want to search? The fact that should they happen to find something illegal, it can’t be used in court. Innocent people who are not arrested after the door gets kicked in have little recourse to hold the cop accountable for kicking in the door illegally. Yes, the guilty gets a get-out-of-jail-free card, but that is all that card is all that is stopping cops from violating your rights.

  56. SKL August 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    Really Bad Mom, I agree with you, and that is why I believe that states should provide more specific information about why each person is on the sex offender registry. Then it would be up to each family / school to decide how to react to this information.

    Of course I’d really prefer that a convicted child molester never see the light of day again, but the law is not on my side on that one.

  57. Papilio August 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    @Wenting: Which is why the information of mister B being a sex offender is NOT meant to be public: to avoid the kind of mass hysteria you get when the word gets out, be it through some leaking neighbor/relative/whoever or through a public record of everyone who has EVER done something remotely reminding of child rape.
    Also I am not against the idea that Western countries should try to keep citizens from molesting children in third world countries. I’m not sure though if refusing them a passport is the way – although a simple ID still allowes them to visit other EU countries, so it’s not like they can’t go on vacation at all anymore.

  58. Donna August 25, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    The sex offender registry cannot possibly tell you enough information to determine if someone is a threat to you or not. It depends on the nature of the crime and the person committing the crime and not just the title of the crime, things that you will never be able to gauge from a blurb on a screen.

    For example, I lived next door to a convicted rapist most of the time I lived in A. Samoa (he was still in prison when I first got there). Anyone involved in the case, including the prosecutor who also lived a few feet from him, will tell you that he is no more of a threat to anyone around him than any randomly chosen man on the street. There is no legitimate reason that he should be prevented from living anywhere. He deserved to go to prison for the act he did commit, but did not deserve to be treated as if he would rape again the second a woman walked by his window (and wasn’t since there is no sex offender registry in A. Samoa so the only people in the government compound who knew about his conviction were people involved in the court system who knew the actual facts).

    But the truth is that people are not remotely interested in whether the sex offender is truly likely to reoffend at all. They are interested in retribution and making him a pariah. That is the entire point of the sex offender registry, not public safety. It is meant to ridicule and continue to punish people who have already served their sentence.

  59. SKL August 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    Donna, the sex offender registry has been around a long time now, and at least where I live, I see none of what you are describing (neighbors using it for “retribution and making him a pariah.”) It would be easy enough to do this if that were my motivation.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on whether it is helpful to know if you have a child sex offender in the immediate area where you’d like to send your child to play without adult supervision.

  60. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    @Donnna, as I said its my opinion, not the law, also the majority of criminals have not “served their time” as they are released early on parole. At least in Australia. They are adults who had a choice whether or not to commit a crime, they knew what they did/ are doing is illegal but made the choice to do it. Their victims have had their choices taken from them, had their rights taken away and violated. The people I am talking about know the consequences of their actions yet cry about their rights violated after committing heinous acts against others. Of course laws are needed to protect the innocent, and regulations for the prosecution of people, but these people aren’t innocent, they don’t deserve to have the rights that are there for the protection of the innocent.
    To be able to be free range we need to be informed about the real dangers and risks around us so the true innocent can be safe to have the free range life they deserve and is their right.

  61. marie August 26, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    To be able to be free range we need to be informed about the real dangers and risks around us so the true innocent can be safe to have the free range life they deserve and is their right.

    Knowing that your neighbor once committed a crime tells you nothing about whether he is a danger to you NOW. Just as BEFORE he committed his crime, you knew nothing about whether he was a danger to you. Knowing that he committed a crime is not the same as knowing that he is a danger. The recidivism rate for sex offenders is extremely low. Compare 5% with the 70% recidivism for armed robbers and you’ll feel better.

    Now, if your point is that the registry makes it possible for you to avoid people who once committed a crime, then that is different and has nothing to do with “real dangers and risks around us.”

    SKL, murderers have used the registry to find their victims. In that case, the former offender AND HIS WIFE were murdered because his name was on the registry. His wife’s name was NOT. Just because it hasn’t happened near you doesn’t mean the registry is okay.

  62. JJ August 26, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    What I don’t understand us why we have a sex offender registry but not other type of offender registries. Don’t get me wrong. I not only think sex offender registries are fairly useless but also unfair–if we don’t believe that someone can do his or her time for the crime and move on, what kind of society are we? If we think once a sex offender always a sex offender why do we even bother. But my point here is why does someone who was convicted of rape (or peeing in public) have to register, but someone who was convicted of aggravated assault does not? Is the second person less of a threat?

  63. JJ August 26, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    PS, I hope it’s clear that I am not advocating for other registries. I am saying what makes sex crimes “special”?

  64. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    @Marie, you seem to have missed my point. What I was saying is that a registry of serious offenders with a detailed account of their crimes could be useful. The US one seems to be flawed as in any little infraction can get u placed on it without stating the seriousness of the crime. And yes people who have gone to prison for serious offences do reoffend, prison does nothing to rehabilitate, you are naive if you think it does. Then if they don’t want to risk vigilante then don’t make the CHOICE to commit the crime. I know quiet a few people who have gone to prison for verious reasons and you know how many have been rehabilited? NONE! Luckily there aren’t a lot of serious sex offenders preying on kids just walking past but if someone who has the chance to become close to my child has ever purposely hurt a child before then I want to know so my child knows not to trust that person.. Your sympathy and concern is misplaced when it comes to the rights of children vs the rights of childmolesters.

  65. Warren August 26, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Donna is smack on.

    The registry is a case of a little information is a dangerous thing. In this case even all the information would be a dangerous thing. Even if you were given access to the transcripts from the trial Joe public could not be trusted to make an objective opinion.
    The problem being is the automatic prejudice against anyone convicted of a sex offense. People will read information with the predetermined mind of looking for something to hold against the convict.

    Accuracy of info is not the registry’s primary mission. Think about it. How many convicts on are the list with a certain crime, but actually guilty of another, more serious. But they entered a plea agreement, for a lesser sentence.

    No amount of info available will ever make the registry usefull for the general public. In this day and age it is relatively useless for law enforcement.

    Think about it. It was first put into place for a general data base for law enforcement to access. With tech. and search engines now, they can find what they want without a registry. The registry was just a way of making quick access for LEO’s, which is now obsolete.

  66. marie August 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Thanks, Warren. Good points.

  67. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    @Warren, I understand what you are saying and agree to a degree, I just think that if there is a truly dangerous child predator let out of prison then I would like to know if they where living near me, not to do anything to them except avoid them. I get the fact about charges, crimes etc but I just don’t like people defending the rights of those scum bags over the rights of the innocent… Just my opinion though.

  68. J.T. Wenting August 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    ” IF the sex offender has raped/molested/killed a child, or a serial rapist keeps raping, or serial murderer etc etc, the IMO they have lost all and any rights, this is my opinion not the law.”

    sadly, 99% of people on those lists, or otherwise branded as child molesters, sexual predators, etc., are innocent and branded such based solely on people deliberately spreading false accusations about them.

  69. Warren August 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    @Really Bad Mom

    What rights of the innocent are you talking about? Since when is it someone’s right to know who someone else is? It is not anyone’s right to know who I am, or any other information about me.
    Are you talking about the right to safety? Well the list doess nothing to make anyone safer. All the list does is make people paranoid, and the list itself is the direct cause of stress, conerned and worry. Before the list you didn’t know about any SO. Therefore you either were living in fear of every man in public as a potential SO, or now like so many other’s are only living in fear and worry because you now think you know. So which is it?

  70. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    I’m talking about the right not to be hurt or raped. And I’m talking specific cases, where there is a actually danger. These are rare cases so I’m not living in fear but stating that if the authorities release these people into the community because some judge thinks a serial child molester only needs to serve 3 years then surely that community should be aware of that person. In Australia you have to register to look up the list, so if something happens to the poor innocent child molester they know who found the info.
    @J.T. Did you read the part where I said truly guilty? I’m not talking about things like peeing in public or teens having consensual sex I’m talking guilty, with proof and evidence to say they did it pieces of dirt. But I guess they must have been set up too.

  71. JJ August 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    “And yes people who have gone to prison for serious offences do reoffend, prison does nothing to rehabilitate, you are naive if you think it does.”

    Reallybadmom–additional stressors we impose on convicted felons after their time is served such as restrictions on where people can live and registering on sex offender lists and generally being made to wear scarlet letters don’t make it any easier to rehabilitate and start life anew in society. Do you truly those who have been incarcerated are beyond redemption? That is a very sad way to look at life.

  72. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    I think we have different opinions and that’s fine, I’m not living in fear as I know how rare the chances of it happening are. I think the mother from the original post is a nutter and completely over the top, but I just don’t think certain offenders can be rehabilited, and I think some dont deserve the right to breath let alone live a happy normal life, but that’s my opinion, I respect everyone has their own but we don’t have to agree.

  73. JJ August 26, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Really Bad Mom, viva la difference, right? :) anyway we all agree the letter writing mom was taking it too far.

  74. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    @JJ.. Lol true… I think sometimes it’s harder to express your pov on blogs etc coz no one can see your expression sarcasm and humour sometimes get missed and it’s easier for things to be taken the wrong way… I often end up going back half way through writing to re read post to try and make sure I got it right lol half the time I read it wrong and end up deleting what I was going to post lol

  75. Warren August 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    The right not to be hurt or raped is not something having names on a list will protect against.
    Any person that decides they are going to commit a sex offense, or any person compelled to commit a sex offense because of mental defect does not give a crap that they are on a list.
    Being on the list will not stop someone from anything.
    And let’s face it, unless you handcuff your child to you at all times, 24/7, if someone wants to get your child, they will, and there is nothing you can do about it.

    Security Theatre, all illusion, no fact. All that does is give you a false sense of security, knowing where they live. If they are going to reoffend, it won’t be anywhere near their home. Maybe you should look up the SO’s that live a couple hour away, they are the ones probably hunting in your area.

  76. Really Bad Mum August 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    @ Warren, as I stated before numerous times this is my opinion, I am not stupid enough to believe that a list in a computer will save my kids, but I’m talking about when a community has a dangerous person who can not be rehabilited, and has “served their time” dumped in the middle of them, they should be informed.. I know what problems could arise from that but I personally would prefer to know. I actually don’t think about it much as I have also said numerous times it would be very rare for it to happen. If you disagree then that is fine, I don’t always agree with what you say, but I am allowed to have opinions different to yours.

  77. SKL August 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    The offender lists are freely available to every American, all 300 million of us. Yet I don’t hear of daily murders of child molesters (outside of prison). The fear that people on the registry are going to be tortured and murdered in their neighborhoods is at least as overblown as the concern that a convicted and released child molester may try something with my kid.

    It just blows my mind that anyone thinks a person who has raped a little child – however long ago (as an adult) – deserves to come outside his house and peacefully swing on his porch swing and tend to his flowers.

    I also agree with Really Bad Mom that no, these people have not generally served their time. It is ridiculous how fast some people get out of prison for hurting and killing children etc. That’s assuming they even got tried for all of their crimes, which as we all know is unlikely.

    Not really arguing, just agreeing to disagree. That’s my opinion and it’s not going to change, and yours aren’t either.

  78. Sarah August 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Sure the recidivism rate is 5.3% (Wikipedia), but wouldn’t that only include repeat offenses that are actually tried and convicted? Isn’t rape and child molestations some of the most under-reported crimes? And I am sure that even for a majority of crimes that are reported most would not lead to an actual conviction. Bottom line for this story, not enough info is given to determine if this mom is over reacting or not. And it looks like the Virginia SO website does list some specific info, so at least the original article could have been a little more complete.

  79. Sarah August 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Donna, mentioning the fact that Samoa doesn’t have a registry is a little out of left field. My son’s father is Micronesian and I am pretty familiar with Pacific Islander cultures- everybody talks and everybody is family, so no internet registry needed. Not to mention that they have completely different attitudes towards rape and child abuse period. I once squealed and asked my neighbor to fish a gecko out of my washing machine and a week later the entire neighborhood new about it, I actually got catcalls like “watch out for that gecko.”

  80. Warren August 27, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Okay, so Sarah, Really Bad Mom and SKL are in favour of the registry. That is established. What I would like to know, is what good does it do you to know where a SO lives?

    You three are in favour of something that has no positive effect on anything. The only thing it does is give you a reason to be afraid of something.

    That is an illness, you should deal with.

  81. SKL August 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    While pedophiles may be rare, being victimized by one is less rare, since they tend to have multiple victims. Most of my family was either molested or had to run away from a molester as a child. (Different molesters, different times and places.)

    I used to encourage my kids to play in the woods between the registered child molester’s house and the park’s play equipment. Now I forbid it and warn them against going there with anyone. So to answer Warren’s question, the information is useful in my opinion – provided it tells what the offender actually did (type of crime and type of victim).

  82. Warren August 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    So you have proved my point. Before you knew, your kids played in the woods, and nothing happened. Now that you know, they cannot play in the woods, even though nothing happpened. So if another SO moves into the area, are you going to forbid you kids from going there, and another and so on. Living in fear is not living.

    So all that the registry did for you was to take away areas that your kids could play in. Because we all know that sex offenders are lazy and only hunt in a 100 yrd radius of their own home, that would be the first place the police look in the event of an abducted child.

  83. SKL August 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Warren, you are entitled to use or not use the information as you please. I want the ability to use or not use it as I please. It hurts nobody if I don’t let my kids play in that limited space when not supervised by an adult.

    Everyone keeps going back to “sex offender.” I am talking about specifically child molesters. My state specifies which it is. I have other sex offenders living nearby and I don’t have any restrictions on my kids specific to them or their streets etc.

    If child molesters are so rare, then it follows that no appreciable harm is done by parents knowing where they live and using the knowledge as they see fit.

  84. Warren August 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm #


    Keeping your kids out of the woods accomplishes two things.
    Makes you feel better that you have control, and are protecting your kids. An illusion, because your efforts are not actually making them any safer.
    And secondly restricting your kids movements based on fear.

    You can rationalize it all you want, but it is still living in fear, and fooling yourself.

  85. SKL August 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Warren, based on my personal experience and my knowledge of the world, I simply disagree that it is perfectly safe for little kids to play (alone) in the woods next to a child molester’s home.

    I understand not wanting to sensationalize rare events and not wanting parents to fear every human on earth. However, that doesn’t mean risks are non-existent or completely unmanageable. There is such a thing as balance.

  86. Warren August 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    No worries SKL. You can think what you want, but it does not change the fact that you are just acting out of fear, and your efforts are just as much the illusion of safety, as background checks are.

  87. ankle August 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    The same thing is happening in Utah: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=26568870

  88. Sarah August 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    I think that as free rangers the one thing that we most could agree on is that when we send our kids out to explore the world we try to give our kids the most knowledge that we can that is pertinent to our living situation. Teaching them their phone number, how to get around town or how to read a map, how to ride a bike in traffic and respect the rules of the road, how to use a bike lock (if you live in a place where you need one, like me), how to fix the chain if it comes off, what to do if they are home alone or out and there is an emergency, how to make a sandwich, for me, what to do if a coyote approaches (we have allot of them) and how to swim in different ocean conditions, read the tides and currents, ect. I am guessing for those cold weather people there is a whole different set of outdoor knowledge that is taught. For me, since I happen to know in particular that Mr. so and so is a creepy #$#&, stay away from Mr. so and so is on that list as well, as well and stay away from creepy *#&@# certain family members. It would be hard to believe that a parent who has knowledge that particular person has been known to molest children or rape anyone, whether that person is a family member, personnel acquaintance or random neighbor would not tell their child to stay they heck away.

  89. Warren August 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Sorry, not having my kids looking over their shoulders for the boogeyman down the street.

    The only people that check the registry are ones that in some sick way love to be stressed and scared.

  90. Jill August 31, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Steve S. You can be put on the registry in Iowa for urinating in public, but you get 2 chances first, 3rd time, you are a sex offender. It is listed on the registry as indecent exposure. I have a friend who rides bikes 50-80 miles at a time on the weekends, and got his first strike a few months ago. He said he has “one more freebie before he gets put on the list,” and laughed. The registry is not so funny though.

    Thank you Shana for another great piece.

  91. Really Bad Mum September 2, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    @warren, I’m in favour of the general idea, I think what you have in the US is wrong. It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to something ( kids kidnapped and killed). As I said before in west aus, u have to register to be able to view the list. I never have as I haven’t seen the need, but it’s nice to know its there, plus the people on the list are protected as the authorities can see who logged in. It’s only new so not sure if it will work any better then the US one.
    I don’t agree with vigilante behaviour and think the reasons most people are on the US list are stupid, I am not in support of the system u guys have, but think the idea of dangerous people’s whereabouts being available is a good idea..

  92. Really Bad Mum September 2, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Oh and btw I’m not living in fear. Except the fear of them never leaving home… That thought turns my blood to ice. Haha