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Sex Offenders Myths And Facts

By Kyle Sandusky, The Chronicle, Oct 17, 2006

What is so egregious about this case is not so much Mark Foley was Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, and a major sponsor of the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act of 2006 (AWCSA), but that he willfully ignored real solutions to child sexual abuse. 

These were proposed by the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, SOhopeful International, jurist, litigators, therapy professionals, law enforcement, and other disciplines related to this issue.

Apparently, a predator in sheep's clothing, Foley pushed through congress a law that is broad, far-reaching, challengeable on Constitutional grounds, and harmful to the wives, children, parents, and siblings of LOW-RISK offenders and former offenders by denying
them due process protections. 

Additionally, the AWCSA [Adam Walsh Child Safety Act[ offers very little in actual prevention and follows the long list of state and federal laws based on retributive justice, not restorative justice. At the end of the day, Foley himself proved that sex offender proximity (banishment) and community notification (registration) laws are ineffective and do absolutely nothing to make children safe.

The original intent of sex offender registry and community notification laws were designed for law enforcement to track the most violent and predatory offenders. 

What are the facts and what are the myths?

Myth - All sex offenders are child molesters and all child molesters are predators.

Fact - The FBI-UCR, National Crime Victimization Survey reveals that only 23% of sex crimes are against someone under 18; and the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that predators represent around three percent of all sex offenders and child killers are less than one percent of all offenders. 

Myth - Strangers are lurking at school bus stops or around playgrounds looking for children to molest.

Fact - The politicians, and some in the media, want you to believe in the stranger danger myth. The fact is that, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, American Psychological Association, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and other experts; children are abused by a family member or someone trusted by the family in around 90 percent of all the cases. 

Myth - Depraved adults commit all sex crimes. 

Fact - The Department of Justice own statistics show that about 40% of sex crimes committed against someone under 18 are by a juvenile; most are consensual sex by teenagers, others are older children acting out against a younger relative or friend.

Myth - Men who molest boys are homosexuals or bisexual. 

Fact - According to the October 5, 2006 issue of Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 98% of molested males and 99.6% of molested girls are victims of heterosexuals.

Myth - Sex offenders have the highest recidivism rate (some quote 95%) and allowing them back into society is a mistake.

Fact - Again, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice and other studies done since 1994, 

sex offenders commit another crime, of any kind, at a average rate of just thirteen percent, while 
those convicted of property theft reoffend (steal again) at an average of 75%
People convicted of drunk driving will reoffend at a rate of 51%, while 
a convicted murderer will reoffend at a rate of 41%. 
Ex-convicts with a non-sex offense charge are 87% more likely to commit a sex offense than a convicted sex offender in therapy is. 

- - -

The public needs to be more concerned about high-risk sex offenders and absconders, not low risk offenders who are working hard to comply with their court and therapy guidelines. Many have paid their debt to society, and are on the Sex Offender Registry by law. Under our current system, law enforcement spends precious resources tracking low risk offenders, instead of high-risk absconders and predators. If the registries were working, why are we seeing an 8% increase each year in the number of registrants? 

According to the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, most sex offenders live in an area due to its proximity to their family or therapy provider. Chasing them away from therapist and family support network is not in the best interest of public safety.

What has not been publicly discussed is the impact of registration on those low risk registrants and specifically their families and children - many times (remember DOJ stats show 40%), the offender is under 18, and the victim is a younger sibling of friend. These victims are doubly victimized when their older sibling or friend is humiliated and ostracized. Nationwide, wives, children, parents, and siblings of offenders and former offenders are denied due process protection because of proximity (banishment) and community notification (registration) laws. 

There are solutions that protect all families:

Treatment of high-risk separately from that of low-risk offenders. 
Civil commitment for Predators. 
Assess risk level prior to re-entry into society, implement GPS monitoring and bi-annual assessment of high-risk offenders until their determined risk is lowered. 
Immediate removal of community notification for low-risk offenders (teenage  consensual sex and one time intra-familial) increasing its effectiveness to law enforcement, state corrections, and the courts. 
Develop standardized investigative techniques, creating an accurate litmus test to determine false allegations from factual sex abuse cases. 
Prevention programs for teens and young adults to prevent sex abuse through development of successful coping skills and through understanding of appropriate boundaries.

In lieu of fostering a fearful witch-hunt mentality for election year sound bites, politicians should step up to this societal challenge. Additionally, the media should strive to dispel the myths and create the environment for policy and subsequent legislation to succeed, creating a safe society for all children.

How does demonizing an entire group of people create value for society? 
What is next for sex offenders and their families? 
Internment camps fashioned after the "relocation centers" for Japanese Americans during World War II?

Please, for the sake of all children, support and push for a National Sex Offender Policy Forum. We are either going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

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