If you ever want a good scare, just check out the sex offender registry in your area. I made the mistake of doing that when I lived in New York City, and I never wanted to leave my house, ever again. Apartment buildings can hold a lot of perverts, y'all.
Now that I have kids, I actually have a good reason to check my neighbors out for lascivious activities once more. Since we're in the middle of buying a house, I definitely wanted to see if there was a menace next door to our dream home. So I logged on to the California sex registry, courtesy of Megan's Law. And, oh. My. God.
We're about to move into a very famous sex offender's neighborhood.
Without giving away who it is, because I don't want to alert a sex offender to the fact that my two adorable children are moving in soon, I will say there's something a little bit less threatening about having a famous sex offender around. For one, I'll always recognize him if I see him coming down the street. Also, I would think a famous sex offender (as opposed to your garden variety psycho) might strive to be low-key and therefore not giving out puppies and candy after school.
While I do think you have the right to know if there is someone dangerous living next door to your family, I also feel a little iffy about the sex offender website. Once someone serves time, do they have a right to privacy? Also, all those blue dots on the map can give you the impression that danger lurks around every corner, even in the most posh neighborhood. I don't think that's true.
I also don't necessarily think you need to keep tabs on the guys 10 blocks away, but you would want to know if that nice old man next door has other motives when he compliments your little girl's hair. It might change your behavior enough to prevent an unthinkable situation. But I wouldn't let my kids go over to anyone's house, unsupervised.
It's like when we found out a neighbor from my childhood had been arrested for molesting his granddaughters and daughters. I remember him being at our house and asked my mom if she thought anything could have happened to me. She quickly answered, "No," because as she put it, "I never took my eyes off of you."
Living in urban areas, there will always be scary people residing nearby. But as long as you're a vigilant parent, even a celebrity sex offender won't be able to charm your kids into trouble. Right??? Please tell me I'm right.
Have you ever checked out the sex offender registry in your area?
Image via Megan's Law