Please PLEASE Do Not Publish Photos of Local Children!

Readers eniesfanrb
— This is just a fascinating artifact from the world of Worst-First thinking, where folks believe today’s children are completely besieged by criminal masterminds (or at least the last of the phonebook users)  who are driven in equal measures by rank evil and a love of intensive research. It ran as a letter to the Press Enterprise paper in Bloomsburg, PA (boldface mine):

To the Editor: I am writing this letter as a concerned former resident of the Bloomsburg area, and am a reader of the Press Enterprise. I no longer live in the area but still return to Bloomsburg because of family and friends who live there.

The March 3rd newspaper carried a page that is commonly used every month, but disturbs me, and others in the area, very deeply. Yesterday it was page 22, the page featuring pictures of young children in the area who are celebrating their birthdays. I would like to urge the Press Enterprise to please, please stop printing this page. These are beautiful, young children who deserve to have their birthdays made a special day for them, but please don’t make it so obvious and so public.

I caution not only the newspaper, but the parents who send in those pictures and the information accompanying them. It is a practice that puts the lives of these children in jeopardy. If I were someone desiring to do something to a child that is too horrible to imagine, all I have to do is get a copy of the newspaper that features a page 22 with all the pictures and information I would need  in order to carry out my desires. By purchasing that newspaper I would have a current photo of the child; know the names of the parents; know the town they lived in, and get a phone book to look up the address; learn the names and towns of the grandparents; know  how many siblings there are and their ages; and, by putting two and two together, come up with the school they go to.

If I learned their address from the phone book, I could drive to the area where they live, sit in my car and watch for them to walk to school and make my move. This is an extremely dangerous situation and the newspaper and the parents are making it very simple and treacherous for the very children they love so much.

This morning (March 4, 2014) I looked on the Internet and did a search for current registered sex offenders in Bloomsburg, Danville, and Berwick. There were a total of 66 current registered sex offenders. How many others are there in the area who are not current or are considering taking that next step to becoming one? Of course the three towns only skim the surface of the residents Benton, Hazleton, Northumberland, and, of course Sunbury where very recently a teenager was arrested for murder by finding victims on the Internet.

Bloomsburg is not the innocent town it once was when I grew up there (I graduated high school there in the ’60s). I know several residents of the area who have never  traveled over 100 miles from the town and probably never will. If you live in the town, you may never see Interstate 80 except when you drive on it. You may not even have a concept of the amount of traffic that drives on that highway. Do you even realize that I-80 goes from the New York City area all the way to the west coast? The number of people who travel through the Bloomsburg area daily is tremendous. It would be so easy for one of them to buy a newspaper, see the pictures of the children, do a little research, and their day would be planned. I would hate for something horrible to happen in my hometown.

S. H. . Norman, Okla.

Those poor doomed children who live in Bloomsburg, PA.

The doomed town of Bloomsburg, PA.


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90 Responses to Please PLEASE Do Not Publish Photos of Local Children!

  1. TaraK March 14, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Orrrrr, said bad guy could just get a GPS, look up the local McDonalds with a playland and skip buying the paper altogether! Or he could google the elementary schools in the area, look for the loner kid and call it a day.

  2. Kevin March 14, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Sorry, but I laughed out loud at the line “How many others are there in the area who are not current or are considering taking that next step to becoming one?”

    I imagined someone sitting down with a pen and paper, making a Should I Become A Sex Offender PROs and CONs list.

  3. pentamom March 14, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Or….you could drive to a school any day of the week, in any town in America, regardless of its proximity to an interstate, and watch for kids to come out and make your move. Without having any of that information.


  4. Tarrkid March 14, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    Wait… I-80 runs all the way from New York City to the west coast???? Who allowed this to happen??? Won’t somebody think of the children???????

  5. Rick March 14, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    I mean really, why would you need a photo before you park in front of a school and wait? The logic of this letter is bizarre.

  6. Pjack March 14, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    He could just go to a playground! The paper is too many steps! Or just drive past your house! Time for a moat.

  7. Lisa March 14, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Or, the child molester could go undetected….get a job as a priest, a teacher’s aide or a coach…spend months or even years targeting a kid and building a trust system with the child and the family…..and then make their move.

    Does this person not realize that they live about an hour from Jerry Sandusky? I don’t think he perused the local papers.

  8. BL March 14, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    “It would be so easy for one of them to buy a newspaper”

    I know! Let’s require background checks for anyone who wants to buy a newspaper!

    Problem solved!

  9. Christine Hancock March 14, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Oh geez! What a Puritanistic kill joy. As if the freeways and country backroads are teeming with genius level gypsies, ninjas, and cannibals for her kind of talk. Meddling busy bodies like her are exactly the kind of people that I most want to protect my children from!

  10. marie March 14, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Oh, PLEASE tell me this is a satire!

    …too horrible to imagine. Except that the letter writer has imagined ALL of it. This person has imagined more than all 66 of those sex offenders combined ever imagined.

    Funny as the letter is, this person does real damage by accusing former sex offenders of nefarious intentions with absolutely no proof to support the accusations. Family members of registered sex offenders live in the world where the letter writer is slinging nasty accusations. Hysterical accusations fueled by an imagination that sees children as sexual targets.

    Putting two and two together? This would be more like putting two and two and six and thirty-seven and forty-three and two hundred seventeen together. This writer wouldn’t hate to hear of something horrible happening; this writer would LOVE to hear all the dirty details of something horrible happening.

  11. SOA March 14, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Yes, that person is a whacko. I personally would not put my kids in there because I have just some enemies is I guess th word to use and I don’t want them having my kids picture to make fun of or judge. I also have some estranged relatives I don’t want knowing about my kids.

    But if you want to put your kids picture in there, more power to you.

  12. Miriam March 14, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    The extremely sad part of this is that no matter what kind of counter argument you present, no matter how much common sense is involved. no matter what kind of data you present, you will never convince this person and people like them to think otherwise. I know, because this is something I point out to people weekly. The whole thing is dismissed as “well things are different now than when you were young” and/or you are dismissed as a ranting old fogey.

  13. Silver Fang March 14, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    What an idiot.

  14. Taradlion March 14, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Those are some old school would be child molesters….using newspapers and phone books?

    So, I guess there should also not be ANY other stories about local children…photos of winning little league team? kids watching parade? I remember being so excited when my NAME and picture were in my local paper….

  15. BL March 14, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    “photos of winning little league team”

    The Little League World Series, with children from all over the world, takes place not far from Bloomsburg and it’s internationally televised.

    But those kids carry baseball bats. Probably not good victims.

  16. pentamom March 14, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    So, yeah, I can imagine this guy who’s got some unfortunate issues, and one day he picks up a paper, sees pictures of children celebrating their birthdays, and thinks, “WHAT? There are CHILDREN in the world! Brown-haired ones, blondes, red-heads, all shapes, colors, and sizes? I never KNEW! I must victimize one!”

    Because until then he didn’t realize that there were actual children in the world upon whom he could act out his horrid ideas.

    One wonders how people who think this way would react if you spelled out the logic of their thoughts to them this way. Hopefully at least some proportion of them would laugh and realize how silly they’d been.

  17. AmyO March 14, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    I absolutely agree with the other posters. All I kept thinking about as I read this: this is needlessly complicated.

  18. Susan Ryan March 14, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Puh-leeze. I have good friends in the Bloomsburg/Danville/Berwick area,and I can assure you it’s not this haven of sex offenders and child snatchers this person seems to think it is. It’s a perfectly lovely small town in the mountains. I hardly think that criminal masterminds are targeting this place simply because of this feature in the paper. But OMG, Interstate 80 goes to NEW YORK CITY, that horrible den of iniquity where no one is safe…

    The level of paranoia in this letter is totally insane…not to mention what it says about the person who wrote it and how much time he spent thinking about these scenarios — probably far more than anyone else, including these alleged “criminal masterminds.” Yikes.

  19. janice March 14, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    I think this is a case of one person’s caution blown out of proportion using sexual predators to emphasize their point. People with sick warped minds DO read newspapers and plan things. When I was in high school I played on the soccer team and regularly had my name mentioned. After one game, some guy called my house (and that of a team mate) to say he had kidnapped us. Understandably my parents freaked out, I was pulled out of school for safety. This was 1983. This was a case of someone who didn’t do anything to kids, but I saw how the parents of my team mate was upset. I remember asking the principal how this could be prevented in the future and she had no comment. Since then, I’ve not been thrilled with having my name out there, nor my son’s. I don’t worry if it does, I just don’t set myself up to get that kind of general public attention. So while the author of this article may have used scary language to put fear of the worst out there, I think there is some merit to their suggestion. Schools have each parent sign picture release because there maybe issues with divorces, custody agreements, etc. that may put all children in that school at risk.

  20. Kimberly Herbert March 14, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Years ago if a child was going to post work on line we had to get specific permission from the parent. It was a pain in the neck.

    Now we have opt out. The default position is that a child’s picture will appear on our Twitter feed, Facebook page, classroom blog, and things the students publish themselves. In my school of 600 kids there are a small handful that have a restriction – they can be in groups of kids but no individual pictures. They are all kids were one or both parents have had their parental rights terminated.

  21. pentamom March 14, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    It’s not just that it goes to NEW YORK CITY, it’s that someone could just hop on I-80 and get to Bloomsburg (I, too, am familiar with Bloomsburg and break out chuckling every time I think of this) relatively quickly.

    Because there are no children to harm in all the massive population centers you’d pass on the way, if you were coming from any significant distance.

  22. Karen March 14, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    This person deserves a visit from the local PD for first degree intent to harm children. Maybe then this ludicrous person will take a step back and see how their over active imagination has the potential to harm other citizens. Could that entire scenario happen? Sure. Is it likely? Nope. Worse case scenarios are called that because they aren’t the common place scenarios.

  23. Jen (P.) March 14, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    “driven in equal measures by rank evil and a love of intensive research”

    I haven’t even read the article yet, but that’s a beautiful line!

  24. E. Simms March 14, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Did anyone find any comments on this “editorial” on the newspaper site? I’d love to see them. The paper won’t let you read if you don’t have a subscription.

  25. Tsu Dho Nimh March 14, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    “If I learned their address from the phone book, I could drive to the area where they live, sit in my car and watch for them to walk to school and make my move.”

    Or you could just use Google, find an elementary school with a good escape route, sit in your car near the school and nab a child without doing all that research.

  26. Jake March 14, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Note to the author:

    If you are not a pedophile and you find yourself sitting at a computer, typing a letter to the editor, in which you try to think like a pedophile…. STOP!

    You have just planned an abduction, rape, and murder. Let that lack of self awareness sink in for a moment. You have just done, what you accuse others of wanting to do, and may not have thought about how to do it. You literally published a pedophile how-to guide. I know, you are trying to do you best for the children, but you have gone completely off the rails and crashed into crazy town. Your op-ed is immeasurably worse for the children than printing their picture in the paper.

    I remember there being a “moral panic” about how obituaries should no longer be published, because burglars will target the homes of the deceased while everybody is at the funeral. They even made an episode of Law & Order, or Psych, or some such police procedural about it. You took that BS, and made it all molestery.

    Ok, I’ll agree with your premise. Some details of the birthday announcements are worth amending. Maybe not give an address or just providing a first name and last initial. But c’mon, you’ve gone too far.

  27. Donna March 14, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Wow. Someone is a few cards short of a full deck. Personally, I am glad that criminals are far less industrious than this person wants to make them, otherwise I’d be out of a job.

  28. SOA March 14, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    The obituary thing was real I thought? Maybe need to look it up but I heard that is something police, funeral directors, etc still advise. Because you are not just having to protect yourself for random robbers reading the obits but estranged relatives or others who will try to sneak in the house and take family heirlooms, jewelry etc before the will reading. You can be dang sure when my grandmother dies we are hiring someone to guard the house. Because there is a whole slew of wacky step relatives and relatives that I would not trust.

    My mother used to run an in home daycare and would occasionally advertise in the classifieds back in the 80s/90s. She did get a lot of weirdo prank calls whenever she would do so. Heavy breathers and the like. One guy asked her if she would breast feed him. Fun times. Of course with caller ID people probably don’t do this as much. But, yes weirdos do peruse papers, but I don’t think it is enough of a thing to freak out over your kid being in there.

  29. Warren March 14, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Are we sure it wasn’t Dolly that wrote this letter.

  30. pentamom March 14, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Yeah, the obituary thing seems more realistic. Since most crimes are crimes of opportunity, then a published notice indicating that a house will in all likelihood be empty of all its occupants at a stated time at least plausibly provides an opportunity. So far the family funerals we’ve had to attend were out of the area so there was not a reasonable concern in this area, but when one hits closer to home no doubt we’ll just ask the neighbors to keep an eye open. Since we have multiple cars to keep in the driveway it probably won’t be an issue anyway.

    A picture establishing the existence of a child (when the existence of children is already generally known) creating an opportunity for a far rarer, less target-specific kind of crime (i.e. stranger abduction vs. burglary), not so much.

  31. SOA March 14, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Warren: What makes you think I wrote this letter? Especially since I called the letter writer a whacko and said it is not a big deal if your kid gets on there? My kids are featured as models on several websites so I definitely don’t mind them being “out there” so to speak. I just don’t always want to attach their name, address, hobbies, our names, etc to the picture like that newspaper does. It would be more like just a picture. Or just a picture with a first name. Or our whole family in the picture and names but not our address. Which even with that info if someone is serious enough they could still put the pieces together and find out where we live etc, but I am not going to worry about that.

    Someone can just as easily see the kids out playing in the yard or follow us home from a store so unless we never leave the house the risk is going to be there regardless but it is a small enough risk I am not worried about it. Just be smart about stuff like I always am and its worked out for me so far.

  32. J.T. Wenting March 14, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Don’t you have to be a (wannabe) child molester to come up with grand schemes like this?
    Arrest this person and be done with, problem solved.

  33. brian March 14, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    So you are not going to tell relatives about a death in the family in case they might rob the dead person’s house??? That sounds perverse to me.

    This obit thing is just as far fetched as the molestation thing. Obits are important for telling friends and acquaintances of a death so people have a chance to pay their respects. Stop with the paranoia.

  34. wombat94 March 14, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    The real problem here is not the paranoid delusions of the letter writer. People with these types of fears have always existed and will continue to do so.

    The problem is that the newspaper went ahead and published it – apparently without comment as to how unreasonable the fears actually are. It is the small-town newspaper equivalent of Nancy Grace’s show on TV.


    Perhaps we are doomed as a culture.

  35. Ann March 14, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Really! Lol! In this day and age more people have cell phones and are not listed in phone books. Is there any data out there that shows a kidnapper doing this?

  36. lollipoplover March 14, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    If putting a birthday child’s photo in the paper is a practice that puts the “lives of these children in jeopardy”, I think social media and Facebook posts that share the breakfast pancakes eaten and bowel movements of the birthday child would blow this person’s mind. And unless you ignore or unfriend this person, you will find out every location and activity of these kids all the live long day.
    *mind explodes*

    And of COURSE all originates on the West Coast and criminals and travel by car straightaway to the lovely armpit of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg (it’s actually not that bad) to get the local paper and find a birthday child to molest.

    Seriously, how many crimes originated from a newspaper- reading criminal who actually owns a phone book? The sheer lunacy of this letter should get this person a psych evaluation.

  37. Silver Fang March 14, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Alarmist idiot.

  38. Papilio March 14, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    “driven in equal measures by rank evil and a love of intensive research”

    A certain type of journalist, I imagine…

  39. Backroadsem March 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Wow, sounds like being a dangerous pedophile these days is a lot of work.

  40. Orange you glad March 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Aaaannnd the paper will stop publishing the birthday page. Because now that they’ve been exposed as printers of a victim catalogue, they will have to cease, and publish an apology for being so reckless in the past. Wait and see. Because this is how it goes.

    It’s like a plague: one crank dreams up a scary “we must protect the chiiiillllldren” scenario, and if you wave them off, you’re someone who WANTS children to be harmed.

    And businesses of any kind don’t like that. It’s bad PR. Why did they publish the letter? As a prelude to the eradication of the Birthday Page tradition. They are going to follow through… Just watch.

    The pedophile protectors use the wisdom of the former US administration: “you’re either with us, or you are supporting the predators.” Or terrorists. Or whatever. It’s a bit like McCarthyism. So sad.

  41. squishymama March 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    I just had a similar conversation with my mother, who recently joined Facebook. She was surprised that she could easily get to my MIL’s page and see photos of my kids. And if she could, then *anybody* could, and they are so cute and who else can see her page, you just don’t want anything to happen to them, do you?

    I think her main concern was that “someone” could become fixated soley on my children just by seeing their photo, and that’s the same feeling I’m getting from this writer. It’s not the amorphous fear of child abdution from off the street or in front of school; it’s that someone will only want YOUR child and move heaven and earth to get to them.

  42. Warren March 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Paranoid is paranoid. Does not matter if it is pics of kids, or obits, or facebook posts.

    Be it, baby pics bringing out the predators, or strangers knocking on your door being home invaders…….it is all paranoia.

  43. pentamom March 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    “If putting a birthday child’s photo in the paper is a practice that puts the “lives of these children in jeopardy”, I think social media and Facebook posts that share the breakfast pancakes eaten and bowel movements of the birthday child would blow this person’s mind. ”

    I knew a grandmother who flipped because her daughter-in-law posted a potty-training pic of her granddaughter on her personal site (this was before Facebook and even before blogs, when people had personal pages.) The son’s family was posted in Japan at the time. The logic train of how the child was specifically endangered by all the people who were likely to come across the site, which presupposed that they spoke English, which means they were probably not in Japan in the first place, which leaves English-speaking people in Japan of whom only a tiny proportion could even be child predators, was rather mystifying. Then ask why this was more endangering to a child too young to be unsupervised anywhere anyway than simply taking her out in public would be, and the mind explodes.

    Although I don’t think potty training pics of kids are appropriate for public display anyway, predator fears have nothing to do with it.

  44. E. Simms March 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    The obit thing has some credence. When my mother died a few years ago, the funeral director simply advised us not to include her address in the obit.

    Including the deceased’s address used to be common practice. Having the address of a home that is likely to be unoccupied for several hours, and knowing exactly what those hours are, would make many homes easy pickings. Most burglars don’t want to encounter occupants anymore than the occupants want to encounter burglars. Perusing the obits would save burglars the time of casing a prospect.

    And please, no one tell me that it’s not freerange to believe that burglars exist.

  45. brian March 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Then again, our burglar friend who we are supposing is already doing research by reading the obits, could simply search the internet on his phone or Google and find that person’s address in about 15 seconds. It is a far fetched scenario that has 0 credence. Shame on Funeral Directors and anyone else spreading such paranoia to people who are already in an emotional state.

  46. lollipoplover March 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    The birthday photos and the community picture section with winning sports teams, scout awards, and service awards are really the only good news portions of the paper anymore. Kids LOVE to see their pictures in the paper and may take an interest in reading the rest of the paper to learn more about their community.
    My daughter has to do Current Events each month for 2nd grade and pick an article from the newspaper to speak to her class about. She always remarks on the bad news and the lack of good topics to talk about. The past 3 months she did the “Adoptable Pet of the Week” as her subject (and the librarian in her school actually adopted on of the dogs she featured). Please keep good news- birthday photos, birth announcements, marriages and engagements- in the newspapers. Enough with the paranoia and doom and gloom. There’s plenty of that already.

  47. SOA March 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    In about 2 seconds using Google I looked up several cases of a rash of the break ins during funerals. So yes, even if the chances are low on that one, it hurts no one to have someone stay at the house during a funeral so I would do it. I also am not even a huge fan of publishing obits until after the funeral is over. But that is just for my own personal comfort in that I prefer smaller services with only the people that actually matter showing up. So you can hold the service first then do the obit and that way you avoid lookey loos.

    Or you can not worry about it and publish the obit and have no one at the house and hope for the best. People can do as they please and as long as it does not effect me, I really don’t care what they do.

  48. MichaelF March 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Newspapers are becoming less relevant these days, give it a few years and this woman’s worries will go away.

    Until she discovers the internet…then HOO BOY her head will explode with the dangers there!!!!

  49. SOA March 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Brian: who said I would not tell them? I said we would have someone at the house keeping an eye on things in case someone decides they think Grandmother’s pearl necklace should go to them so they are going to go ahead and stop by and collect it. Then when the will comes out and turns out that necklace belonged to someone else per the will, it is magically missing. Take 10 seconds to google inheritance issues and you will see this is a common problem. While pedophilia is not common, greed certainly is. We already have people arguing about inheritance and making comments about it and Grandmother is not even dead yet. So yeah, I don’t trust them and with darn good reason.

    It is only paranoia if there is no truth to it whatsoever.

    Someone stated the paper should not have printed the letter to the editor. I just wanted to point out a lot of the time they have to print all letters to the editor even the crazy ones. We get a lot of nutsy ones published around here but they just publish all of them for whatever reason. Just because they published it does not mean they agree with it.

  50. Rachel March 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those “offenders” are on the list for peeing in public, having sex with a prostitute or trying to, guys who were 19 with a 16 year old girlfriend or those convicted of doing something to an adult, not a kid. I’m not excusing those who attack adults, but they’re not the same, imo, as someone who preys on children, as this bozo imagines everyone driving on the interstate is thinking of doing. Yet another reason the “Sex Offender Registry” is worse than nothing. By lumping everyone together, we can never tell who the actually potentially dangerous people might be. So we’re encouraged to panic about everyone.
    As for his assertion that it’s not safe like it used to be– can I see some data on that, please? Some hard numbers on the soaring crime rate, the climbing number of children snatched by strangers.. what? There’s no data to support his claim? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

  51. Natalie March 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I know why this letter-writer is afraid of I-80 going all the way to NYC.

    Because LENORE lives in NYC.

    The horrors! Kids might start getting crazy ideas! Like riding around town alone on their bikes!

    Will no one think of the children!!!!!!!

  52. Warren March 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Please Dolly,
    This is about the paranoid rantings of the letter writer, and her huge issues.

    Not your paranoia and issues. Not your disfunctional family ready to rob the dearly departed.

  53. Sharon Davids March 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    The Washington Post lists the age of children, their name, and the town they live in. My daughter has been in that section. They only take shots of the head (like school photos).

    She was born the day of a former president (notice I didn’t say which one) who is deceased. His name is listed after the live children.

    Long live the kids post it made my daughters day to see her photograph actually on her birthday since that year her birthday fell on a Monday.

  54. Cathy M March 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Honestly, all the same information can be discerned from an obituary. Should we stop posting those too as well?

  55. anonymous mom March 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Just to make sure we don’t follow the letter writer’s “sex offender = child molester” or “sex offender = sexual predator” line of thinking, since, PA, like most states, has a wide-net, offense-only-based sex offender registry, we can safely assume that less than 15% of those 66 men on the registry in the area have committed either 1) a crime against a child 13 or under, 2) a forcible or violent offense against a person of any age, or 3) more than one sex offense of any type. The other 56+ men are on the registry (and I’m pretty sure PA is a lifetime registration state) are on for a single non-violent statutory offense with a willing teen who was 14 or 15 or for a non-contact crime (an internet-based offense that did not involve an actual child, in many cases). So, there’s very little chance that any of those 56 men, at least, would have any interest in tracking down a child they saw in the paper. Only a crazy leap of logic would lead us to believe that a guy who, at 22, had sex with a willing 15 year old girlfriend would have any interest in tracking down, raping, and murdering a 6 year old.

    It’s also funny she brought up the Sunbury murder case as a reason for these children to be scared. The 19yo murderer in that case used the same tactic as many police forces, posting ads on Craigslist claiming she was a year below the age of consent and seeking out a hook-up, and then murdering men who took the bait. She apparently just took the current logic of our culture–that any adult man who would ever even consider sex with a person even a day under the age of consent is a vile pervert deserving of death, regardless of how much the teen in question may have initiated or his own age–to its logical extreme.

  56. Jake March 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    The issue was not that addressed were put in obituaries, it was that the obituary was published at all, and that burglars could look up the deceased’s address in the phone book and so on and so forth.

    If you actually go through police and crime databases, the actual number of obituary tied burglaries is virtually nothing. I found less than 10 confirmed cases of this MO. Most burglaries occur during daylight hours when it is reasonably expected that the occupant and neighbors are at work. That is far more regular and predictable than a family death.

    That funeral directors and police advise against stuff like this doesn’t surprise me. But then police are just as (if not more so) susceptible to moral panics.

    I was in high school when “rainbow parties” were the scare of the day. Those were the teenage oral-sex parties that involved multiple colors of lipstick. Oprah did an episode about it. Then police started showing up at PTA meetings going on and on about this. The number of confirmed “rainbow parties?” ZERO. Never happened. We teenagers didn’t know about them until Oprah talked about it on TV and the cops came to the school to tell us not to do that. Then whole school districts banned lipstick.

    A few years later it was those stupid plastic bangle bracelets. The moral panic was that it was a game, a boy steals one off a girl and the color of the bracelet then determines what sex act she then would perform on him. How many confirmed times did this happen? ZERO. NONE. ZIP. Still, PTA meetings and shrieking parents, and no more bracelets.

    I’m not saying teenagers don’t have sex. There were plenty in my school that did. I was just bad with the ladies…

    But teenage, polychromatic, orgies unbeknownst since the reign of caligual? Nope, never happened.

  57. John March 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    66 current registered sex offenders? For what? Getting drunk during their college days and peeing against a tree or streaking nude across a football field? Or having sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend when they were 18? Playing doctor with the neighbor girl when they were 10? I think everybody on this forum gets my point!

    The sad part is, the local politicians and city government will act on this person’s letter and no more children’s names and pictures will be featured in the local newspaper. Of course, adults still will be pictured with names because nobody wants to victimize an adult, only a child. Sheesh, what a world…errr….country we live in.

  58. John March 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Lenore, you really need to educate this person on the facts, IF that would even help!

  59. SOA March 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Warren: If you don’t want me defending myself then stop attacking me. You don’t start none, there won’t be none.

  60. Donna March 14, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    Dolly, the number of people who rob someone based on obits would be small enough to be statistically negligible, and even then would most likely be someone known to the deceased. Houses being empty during funerals are too unpredictable if the thief is unknown. And, honestly, grandma generally doesn’t have all that great stuff. Old people tend to stop acquiring the easily pawnable electronics that burglars want most. Unless the burglar knows there is some guns or easily accessible and pawnable jewelry or sellable meds in the house, there isn’t much point – and that again points to the known thief.

  61. Papilio March 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    @Natalie: “I know why this letter-writer is afraid of I-80 going all the way to NYC. Because LENORE lives in NYC.”

    And the world makes sense again! 😀 (I don’t know about the rank evil though…)

    @Warren et al.: stop bashing SOA, burglaries during funerals do actually happen, in my country too (unless among the 10 cases Jake found were places like Mijdrecht and Groningen, which I seriously doubt). But of course a lot more people are interested in stealing your money/valuable stuff than in kidnapping your children; that makes a huge difference in paranoia level.

    @pentamom: “So, yeah, I can imagine this guy who’s got some unfortunate issues, and one day he picks up a paper, sees pictures of children celebrating their birthdays, and thinks, “WHAT? There are CHILDREN in the world! Brown-haired ones, blondes, red-heads, all shapes, colors, and sizes? I never KNEW! I must victimize one!””

    And all this time he abducted dwarfs instead 😛

  62. oncefallendotcom March 14, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Are we even sure this letter from the Editor came from Norman, OK? I know Sooner fans suck but this sounds like FloriDUH logic. This guy could have been an advisor for the FloriDUH legislature when they determined that Cherish Perrywinkle could have been saved if sex offenders can’t borrow cars, or those on parole can’t view adult porn, or to sit a victim advocate on a civil commitment panel.

    I hope this is not a sign that FloriDUH’s idiocies are contagious.

  63. pentamom March 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    Assuming those stats about burglaries during funerals are correct, then I stand corrected. I still contend that’s a more rational thing to be concerned about — burglaries are NOT rare events, burglars DO case homes, and seeing a service time announced and looking up the probably address of the deceased is a very low-effort way to pick a target, with a reasonable expectation that the home will even more likely to be unoccupied than at any other time. Compared to the idea of seeing a picture of child in the paper, tracking down the child’s info, finding their school, coming so far that you need an INTERSTATE to make it significantly easier to get there, and waiting outside, as compared with just watching for kids coming out of schools, it’s a positively Occam-like conclusion. If it’s nonetheless not a real problem, it’s still not nearly as ridiculous to believe it would be, as the scenario described in this post. Also, the precaution called for in each case is far less extreme: have someone keep an eye on your house, vs. don’t let your child’s picture appear in public, anywhere (though logically it would also require not letting your CHILD appear in public, either.)

  64. Maribel March 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    You may be offended but, Doug Stanhope: “Nobody wants to fuck your kid.”

  65. Donna March 14, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Pentamom – burglars do case homes to see when people are at work. They do not commonly read obituaries, track down locations and rob houses during services. I have never had such a case in 10 years. I have had a couple funeral burglaries but the thief was known to the family and knew about the funeral through those means, not obits.

    Burglars want guaranteed empty houses. Deaths tend to bring MORE people to the house, not less unless the funeral will be elsewhere. People are known to stay back at the deceased’s house to watch young children and set up food for thr returning family (is that just a southern thing?) so there are no guarantees that the house will be empty.

  66. bmj2k March 14, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    Dear City of Bloomsburg

    Do you realize that every day, thousands of children walk from their schools to their homes, in broad daylight, in fill view of any sex offender or predator that happens to be nearby? This is a potential smorgasbord of danger.

    Any dangerous sex offender, or someone who is just considering becoming one, can simply follow them home, then get their name off the mailbox. Then they will have the kid’s name, address, and schedule and viola! DANGER AND DEATH!

    To prevent this, I have some proposals. 1- Children should be transported to and from school in blacked out vans, while wearing hoods, not to be removed until they are in their window school rooms. 2- School should only be held at night, in pitch darkness to keep the children from being seen by predators.

    Just a few common sense precautions will keep our kids safe.


    I thank you.

  67. Cassie March 14, 2014 at 10:18 pm #


    Brilliant. I had a laugh at the exact same line.

  68. Warren March 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    Burglars using obits ranks right up there with the burglars that track down empty homes from license plates on cars at the airport.

    It does not happen like that.

    Again let’s stay with reality and not a Law and Order episode, or some other crime drama.

  69. SOA March 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Donna: My Grandmother actually does have a lot of guns and expensive jewelry and antiques. So in our case at least, yes, I would be pretty bummed if someone stole all that. Especially since the jewelry is heirloom ones that have been in the family a long time.

  70. kate March 15, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    well, we better stop leaving our homes too- strangers might see us leaving and learn our address, then they could learn our names, phone number,workplace etc and come rob us when we leave for work or murder us in our sleep. The world is not as safe as it used to be you see, we are in the middle of an extreme surge of psychopaths in our species (I mean, have you ever watched Dexter?)

  71. E. Simms March 15, 2014 at 4:48 am #

    By brian Fri Mar 14th 2014 at 1:06 pm
    Then again, our burglar friend who we are supposing is already doing research by reading the obits, could simply search the internet on his phone or Google and find that person’s address in about 15 seconds. It is a far fetched scenario that has 0 credence. Shame on Funeral Directors and anyone else spreading such paranoia to people who are already in an emotional state.
    It’s not “far fetched” and it’s not “paranoia.”

    In any decent sized city, there are going to be people with the same names. Some people have opted out of being listed in the phone book so don’t always show up in the online data bases. So, finding an address would often take more than 15 seconds. Why make it easy for potential burglars by printing the address?

    I also lock my car door and the doors to my home even though I probably would not be burglarized if I didn’t. Is that also “paranoia.”

  72. Jake March 15, 2014 at 10:43 am #


    It’s not paranoid to lock your doors and windows. It’s not paranoid to get an alarm system. There are many useful theft prevention/deterrent things you can do to help safeguard your property. I store my guns, emergency cash, and heirloom/expensive jewelry and watches in a UL tested Safe. I don’t think that is paranoid.

    One of the things that Free Range Kids teaches is to evaluate the realistic statistics of a bad thing happening, and to act according to the true likelihood of that happening as opposed to the perceived likelihood of that happening. Yes, parents worry that their kid is going to be kidnapped and murdered. But the reality is, your kid is many, many times more likely die by drowning in the backyard pool at their friend’s house than they are getting kidnapped and murdered as they walk three block to that friend’s house to go swimming.

    Burglaries happen. People get their stuff stolen. Have there been cases of thieves using obituaries, wedding announcements, etc. to pick houses? YES. BUT… What percent of all burglaries use that modus operandi? Is it 1%, 0.1%, 0.01%? I don’t know. Your Snopes page shows three groups of burglars who use this method in a 12 year period from 1996 to 2008. By checking the FBI crime statistics database, there was an average of 2.2 million burglaries per year in that same period. That doesn’t seem to be all that common.

    I’m not saying that this type of crime doesn’t happen. Nor would I want my name, address, and daily schedule published in the newspaper. But not publishing an obituary, wedding/birth announcement, etc., because you are afraid that it is an invite to the tiny, tiny, fraction of thieves that might possibly look up your address online after seeing your name in the paper, is paranoid.

  73. Donna March 15, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    SOA – the point isn’t do they have those things. It is whether people know that they have those things. Looking at a name in an obit tells you nothing about the possessions in their house. It could be your grandmother with stuff burglars like or my grandmother who’s never been interested in any of that and has absolutely nothing of pawn-value in her house. Why exactly would a burglar pick a random name out of an obit, research their location and risk arrest by breaking in without knowing what they will gain?

    Now if your grandmother happens to be in the habit of showing her stuff to questionable people, there may be a reason to worry, but odds are, if they actually know grandma, they will hear she died and when her service is outside of the obits.

  74. Donna March 15, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    E Simms – So snopes, who was actually actively investigating this situation, found only 3 cases over a 12 year period and this is an epidemic that we should worry about? Good god far more children have been aducted by strangers in that time and we still argue that it is a extremely small risk that should not alter life as we know it.

    Truth is stranger than fiction so I bet we can find actual instances of anything we can possibly dream up occurring. That does not mean that it is somethingc we should fear and change our lives over.

  75. SOA March 15, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Well to be fair, addresses can say a lot about what that person may or may not have wealth related. My GM lives in the historic district where it is all big fancy older houses and yes, most people in that neighborhood have money. So anyone familiar with that area would say “Yep, this old lady has money.” Not really hard to figure out.

    Chances are it would be fine, but again it does not hurt anything to just ask a neighbor or someone from church to sit at the house either. People always ask what can they do to help when someone dies and there is a task you can give them right there.

  76. Amanda March 15, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    As someone grew up in the area and graduated from a school in Bloomsburg (much more recently- the 2000s), I hear all the time about how things have changed in the area. Mostly, it’s complaints about how businesses have moved away from downtown to Route 11 (my elementary to high school years) and now closer to I-80 (college to today).

    Oh my god, the cabal is slowly making progress!

  77. Donna March 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    SOA – Burglaries happen daily. You are no more likely to be burglarized on the day of your funeral than any of the other days of your life. In fact, I would put guess that statisically you are far less likely to be robbed that day. Your grandmothers address has been the same for years. The same assumptions about her possessions could be made every single day that she has lived in the house, and yet she is not being burglarized on a daily basis. There simply are not millions of burglars around the country combing through obituaries looking to rob houses during funerals. It is an exceedingly rare crime.

    The very fact that you would even think to ask about someone sitting a house during a funeral speaks of a high level of paranoia or self importance. Securing my grandparents’ stuff has been the last thing on my mind after any of their deaths.

  78. pentamom March 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Donna, I understand that it doesn’t actually work that way that burglars case homes through the obits.

    I’m just saying believing that they would, is not as wildly ridiculous a thing to think, as that a guy would see a picture of a kid in a newspaper, track her down at a place where everyone already knows kids are there at certain times of day, drive hundreds of miles past millions of other kids, and harm her. Burglars DO case homes; molesters don’t sit around wondering whether there are kids in the world. Obits DO provide new information as to the possibility that a home would be unoccupied; a name and picture of a child provides no new information that would be of any value to a predator.

    I’m just saying that the first is based on a misconception, but not a bizarre way of thinking. The second is utterly bizarre.

  79. pentamom March 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    “But not publishing an obituary, wedding/birth announcement, etc., because you are afraid that it is an invite to the tiny, tiny, fraction of thieves that might possibly look up your address online after seeing your name in the paper, is paranoid.”

    I rank this up there with “never mention even in general terms on Facebook that you’re going on vacation until you’ve returned” or even worse “don’t do check-ins at restaurants, people will know you’re not home.”

    Simpler solution: know your friends and keep your privacy settings reasonable. And lose the belief that nobody can figure out that you go to work every day anyway — and that any burglar smart enough to intelligently case your home is too dumb to figure out that some family members might be at home while others go out to dinner.

  80. hineata March 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    @Donna – Not that I disagree with you, but I had to laugh about securing grandparents’ stuff being the last thing on your mind. I remember, when one grandmother died, that the first thing out of the mouths of my sister and I were questions, and lurid answers (fortunately only to each other) about what would happen with her greenstone! We were, though, only 7 and 8 at the time, from memory…and had been brought up with stories of hideous happenings that occur if greenstone isn’t given/received by the right people :-).

    (Greenstone (proper name pounamu) is a kind of jade lots of us value highly, and to many Maori it has other stuff tied up with it).

    In the end, a fair bit of it was buried with her anyway, my dad being the superstitious type…. So, now you all know. If you’re after certain types of jewellery, try digging up graves, LOL!

  81. Donna March 15, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Pentamon – I guess that I do view it as almost equally wildly ridiculous. The fact is that we leave our houses just about every day for longer than the length of a funeral, and yet it would never occur to us that any one particular day is ripe for burglary. Suddenly put our name in the paper and the likelihood of burglary increases so much that we need someone to sit in the exact same house for 2 hours.

    The fact is that burglars don’t case individuals. They case neighborhoods. They pick certain neighborhoods that they want to hit and then choose the best houses in those neighborhoods. That is why you usually see runs of break ins in the same area. It isn’t personal so the knowledge gained in an obit is nothing different than the fact that a specific child exists. It is no more alluring unless the deceased happens to be living in a neighborhood already being cased.

  82. Kim March 15, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Wow, “S.H.”…it must be hell inside your head.

    Honestly, the fact that this person dreamed up all of these horrible things that might happen to the kids whose pictures are published in the paper AND walked us all through the steps needed to accomplish those horrible things concerns me more than anything.

  83. SOA March 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    Donna: Are you trying to say it is greedy to want to secure my Grandmother’s belongings? Because that is something that SHE herself has expressed a lot of concern about with making sure they go to the right people. She actually scrimps and saves in spite of us telling her she does not have to so she can leave us something when she dies. To her that is something she wants to do. So who am I to tell an old woman, she is wrong? I would be letting her down if I did not do what I could to protect her stuff so we can inherit it when that is what she so very much wanted.

  84. E. Simms March 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    @Jake “But not publishing an obituary, wedding/birth announcement, etc., because you are afraid that it is an invite to the tiny, tiny, fraction of thieves that might possibly look up your address online after seeing your name in the paper, is paranoid.”

    I did NOT, in any post, say that you should not publish a public announcement. I simply said not to make it easier for burglars by including the home address. Please read the post to which you are replying before you reply.

  85. E. Simms March 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    @Donna “…and this is an epidemic that we should worry about?”

    “That does not mean that it is something we should fear and change our lives over.”

    Could you just please stop with your strawman arguments. I never said anything remotely like that. I simply said that we shouldn’t make it easier for burglars by publishing the damned home address. Is that so horrible?

    Earlier, I used the example of locking my car and home doors. I could probably not lock my doors for the next ten years and still not get burglarized. Why do I do it? I do it because a burglary is still possible and locking my doors takes virtually no effort. Not putting my home address in a public announcement takes even less effort.

    Are you so short of things to argue about that you pick my post? Get a life.

  86. Warren March 16, 2014 at 10:00 pm #


    I guess you and I do have something in common. Our families are not full of thieves and backstabbers just waiting for family members to die, so they can loot their homes.

    Materialistic is materialistic. Your initial comment did not say it was your Grandma’s wishes. You were spouting your paranoia.

  87. Warren March 16, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    E Simms

    It is paranoid. Since burglars are not using obits in the first place, then posting addresses won’t make it easier.

    For example there are a lot of people that are only known to their neighbours by first name and the house they live in. My dad being one of them, the old couple down the road from me and so on. If their full name and address was not published people who care may miss out on paying their respects.

    When I was in high school, my mom noticed that a lady down the street had lost her husband, via the obits. According to the obits she didn’t have much family. My dad and I took it upon ourselves to clear her driveway and walk that winter. Without the address we would not have known.

  88. House wife March 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Seriously? LOL this article is ridiculous. I’m more concerned over the local DRUNKS plowing over an innocent child. There is a lot more than 66 people driving through that area drunk and high on DRUGS! And that is a FACT.

  89. House wife March 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Oh and FYI there has been 7 school teachers arrested in our area since September for having intercourse with their students!! So watch out for the teachers also. LOL

  90. RedGingerGoo March 20, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    You know, I actually feel “sorry” for the man who wrote that newspaper article. He is so “besieged” by the fear and hysteria that so typifies our modern age. “Oh my GOD, he’s wearing a TRENCH COAT!… “RUN KIDS!!!!!..” or.. “OOOOOO!! That man has EVIL BLACK WHISKERS on his chin!!!! Kids, Stay away from that evil looking man with the dark ashen face!!!” It’s so mind-blowingly STUPID! Here we are in the 21st Century,… and we’re STLLL stuck on the same old STUPID!!!!