Out of sight = Out of mind. An unrecognized national phenomenon is that some sex offenders are living in tents along the outskirts of our communities.
Some sex offenders live in wooded areas, near parkways, behind businesses and office parks, and in wooded lots near our communities. (The above photo is an AP photo of a registered sex offender who lives in a wooded area in Georgia) The focus of this posting is to raise community awareness to this unseen safety concern to the security of our children, families, schools, and communities. As a consequence to their convictions, sex offenders face tough living restrictions as to where they can and cannot live in proximity to institutions where children are concentrated such as schools, day care centers, and public parks. Typically they are restricted from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, child-care facilities, and other areas where children gather. Some sex offenders live in the woods as a last resort while others live in wooded areas to remain undetected for nefarious reasons. In some cases law enforcement agencies know where these concentrations are at and probation / parole officers monitor these individuals, but not in all cases. Regardless of their reasons, the American public must be aware of this phenomenon to continue to ensure our children’s safety.
- Winsted CT: Robert Logan (34) a registered sex offender from Arkansas lived in a tent in the woods in Winsted, CT and used promises of candy, ice cream, and money to lure children into his tent (near an apartment complex) to abuse them. He lured a 7 year old girl into his tent and abused her.
- Waterbury CT: Damien Wells, a 36 yr old unregistered sex offender (federal conviction on child pornography) was found living in a tent in a wooded patch behind a pharmacy on a busy street (Wolcott Street). He was armed with two weapons and ammo.
- Wooded Sex Offender Camps: Florida (Orlando, Orange County), Georgia (Cobb County), California (Laguna Woods). Just conduct a Google Search.
Points for Discussion:
- PREPARE YOUR KIDS: Ensure we continue to educate children about “Stranger Danger”. Teaching them to avoid and ignore strangers who try to engage them, and to make noise if the stranger doesn’t get the hint.
- We used to teach our child to scream / yell “GET AWAY FROM ME STRANGER!!!”
- Role play these stranger danger scenarios (Help me look for my lost puppy, Your mom got hurt & you need to come with me to see her, I am lost can you help me) with your child to include their actions and responses.
- Remind them to maintain a distance from strangers especially in cars and run away screaming if encountered. The goal is to empower & prepare them, not to live in fear.
- INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING: Continue to educate them to not allow anyone to include people (relatives, neighbors, coaches, teachers, etc.) they know to “touch their bodies”. Always teach your kids to tell you (NO MATTER WHAT) if this happens to them, it makes them brave and is not their fault it happened.
- PREDATORS ARE HUNTERS: Remember child sexual predators / sexual predators are skilled hunters who know how to find, target, manipulate, control, and intimidate their victims. They will often tell the victimized child they will "kill their mommy & daddy if they tell anyone".
- SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING: Children like to explore especially in the woods. Ensure you tell your children to tell you if they ever see grown-ups living in the woods or tents in areas where they travel or play to let you or a grown up know immediately.
- PROTECT THEIR INNOCENCE: Telling your children their are bad people in this world who do bad things does not take away their innocence, but can protect it.
AWARENESS OF WHAT BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN IS OFTEN THE BEST MEANS OF PREVENTING THOSE BAD THINGS FROM HAPPENING IN THE FIRST PLACE.