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Checking your Area

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2024
Family Watchdog makes it simple to search for sex offenders in your area. But what do you do when you are visiting an area that they do not register at such as a campground, swimming pool or church?

I had the thought the other day about the place where we spend our summers, the campground. The state that I live in does not require offenders to register temporary homes, such as a camper at a campground that they only visit on the weekends. And unfortunately, the campground office does not do any kind of background check to my knowledge on the seasonal campers, and they surely do not do them on visitors that only come for a weekend. That leaves me with the question of how to know if my children are safe from potential harmful offenders?

It doesn't. Luckily, in the state I live in, we have a free court records website where you can search all recorded court proceedings, including criminal. But most states do not have that service available. Nor does it have records from other states. I must admit, I do a search of almost everyone I come in contact with, just to have an idea of their past and if they are hiding anything.

We had an older man that worked at the campground doing work that was arrested a few years ago for soliciting a minor. The police tore apart his camper as we all learned what he was up to. He was never on anyone's radar as a potential threat, nor did he have a past that would have pointed to it. We all trusted our older children to walk from the beach to our campers in their bathing suites, without batting an eye. That's what you do in a community like that. You just trust people.

So, what needs to change and how can this be prevented? To make a long story short, there's not much you can do besides talk to your children and be aware of your surroundings. It's always a good idea to check Family Watchdog for registered offenders in your area or use the search by name feature and run everyone you possibly can think of through it. And that can be a lot of work when you are talking about a campground, swimming pool, or a church with hundreds of members. But most importantly, you need to talk to your children about what kind of behavior is appropriate and when they need to tell you that something is just "off" about a person or their mannerisms.

Being aware of your surroundings will always give you a little piece of mind, but it's up to you as the adult and parent to make sure that your children are safe. You can always tell your congregation office, campground office, or manager that you are concerned about potential sex offenders being around your family. You can tell them about Family Watchdog and the free service we offer where they can do a quick, simple check for registered offenders that are their guests. You can also call your local state police and ask them if there are any known offenders that are frequenting the place of concern. Note: There are many states that DO require offenders to register these types of addresses as well as their home and place of employment.

Most importantly, this brings back the topic of child grooming, and we want to touch base on that. Because you can protect your children and know all the facts, but it's never a bad idea to know about child grooming and how it can happen and effect your family.

What is grooming?
Grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.
Children and young people who are groomed can be sexually abused, exploited or trafficked.
Anybody can be a groomer, no matter their age, gender or race. Grooming can take place over a short or long period of time - from weeks to years. Groomers may also build a relationship with the young person's family or friends to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative.

Learn more about Grooming:
https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/types-of-abuse/grooming/ All in all, we just wanted to bring some awareness that there are faults in the sex offender registry program, and it's up to YOU as the adult to keep an eye on your children's safety.