Yesterday, WWAY NewsChannel 3 reported on how to learn if a sex offender is living in your neighborhood. Today, we're going to tell you what you can do as a parent and if you discover one is living nearby. If you want to learn quickly if you live near someone convicted of a sex offense, go online to ncfindoffender.com, punch in your zip code, and find out who might be living near you one parent who posted a comment on our website did exactly that. But now that she knows there is a sex offender living near her home, what's the next step? A concerned parent posted this question on our website… "We have a sex offender living in our neighborhood who lives in a home filled with kids. There are kids all over the neighborhood who go over to that home. We know he lives there due to the registry; my children don't go over there. But what do I do with this knowledge?" New Hanover County deputy Charles Smith said the best answer is to use your best judgment. Anyone who learns this information can tell their neighbors, as long as the information is being used to protect the community and not to harass the registered offender. In this case, parents may not know the criminal's background. Informing them of a sexual offender could help keep the kids safe. Yesterday, WWAY spoke with Nora Benbow; she discovered her sister and kids have been sharing a duplex with a sex offender for years. She said her kids did visit with him sometimes, but now that might change. “I'll kind of be a little more concerned now that I know." New laws require some sex offenders to stay at least three hundred feet away from a place children gather, like a playground or day care center, but no law can cover every situation. What about fast food restaurants? Many have playgrounds. Technically, sex offenders not allowed in, but will the law keep them from buying a burger? That's why Pender County detective Scott Lawson said it's important for parents to supervise children or know where they are and what they're doing. And that includes, of course, the internet. Lawson said, “If the parents are not going to monitor what their children are doing on the internet, they might as well take out an ad in the paper, inviting all the weirdoes and all the perverts to their house, give the address, give the telephone number, unlock the doors and open the windows and just let them walk in. Cause you're doing the same thing when you let your child on the internet to go wherever they want to without supervision." Detective Lawson also said, if you have a gut feeling something's wrong, it probably is. Contact your local sheriff's office. A new law that went into effect December first prohibits sex offenders from accessing social networking sites, like Myspace and Facebook. As of May first 2009, another law will require them to register all online identifiers with the local sheriff's office; this includes e-mail addresses, screen names, and all user ids.
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