New Law for Sex Offenders on Facebook Is Meaningless

handcuffsI’m willing to bet that every mother with an Internet connection has at one point or another, gone online to check the sex offender registry for her area. After teenagers Amber DuBois and Chelsea King were killed in my neck of the woods a couple of years ago by repeat sex offender John Gardner, I hopped online and found out which neighbors to avoid.

After being convicted of a sex crime, a perpetrator must carry a scarlet badge of dishonor forever. There’s a good way to avoid this lifelong shame: Don’t molest children. Done. You may live your life in relative peace and quiet. 

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As for those human beings (and I use that term loosely) that sexually abuse children and manage to make it through their prison sentences, they will forever be branded as sex offenders. Their names, locations, and crimes committed are entered into a database accessible to the general public through websites like Family Watchdog.

In Louisiana, sex offenders will now be required to include that factoid on their social networking profiles on sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Possibly Twitter too, but man, ‘sex offender’ takes up so many of those allotted 140 characters. Many states already require these predators to register their email accounts, Internet addresses, etc. with the authorities, but this is the first law of it’s kind in the nation.

Facebook has been removing sex offenders from their site for years, but this new law, effective August 1, is the first that mandates that these criminals include such information in their profiles.

Practically speaking, I’m not sure what kind of effect this will have on the prevalence of child molesters and rapists online, because let’s face it, they already broke the law at least once with their sick yearnings. I can’t imagine one of these perpetrators sitting down at the computer looking for prey and saying, “Oh gee golly, the new rules say I must include my lewd criminal past in my profile, so let’s get to uploading that information.”

The way I see it is that this is one more thing that a repeat offender can be charged with when caught. The more counts they’re charged on, the more likely they’ll finally be put away for good. Meanwhile, make sure you teach your child safe practices on the Internet. You never know what’s lurking there.

 

Image via David Surtees/Flickr

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