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What to do if sex offender lives nearby

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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, 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.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Who Is The Greater Danger

While so many are worried about a "sex offender", I find it amazing that they have no concern over drug dealers and those with multiple DUI convictions. These two groups permanently damage many more individuals. How many times have you heard about an entire family killed by a drunk driver that had more than one conviction? What about the drug dealer selling to children? I could go on and on, but the politicians love sex offenders and are afraid that they would end up on a DUI registry.

It's good to see the

It's good to see the thoughtful comments here. This is truly a group of people who aren't allowed to ever be free from their history. My neighbor could have beaten his former neighbor senseless with a baseball bat over a petty dispute, but I won't know that when I ask him not to run the leaf blower at 6:00 AM Saturday morning. When I send my daughter out on a date, I won't know that he beat up his last girlfriend. I won't know that my neighbor is bipolar and likes to shoot guns in the air when he gets manic. Frankly, I'm pretty worried about those guys! Why do former sex offenders get this treatment? Everything I have read shows really low recidivism rates for this type of offense even though everybody thinks it is really high. I just LOVE the Waldo reference. That's how I feel when I look at the registry. Which one of these guys is actually a danger? There's some good advice here (not in the article, though). If you're going to look at the registry, remember that not all those guys are dangerous. The offense names all sound really scary, but they aren't always. I know that in some states teen consensual sex is listed as sexual battery, sexual assault, and even rape. I think we could all get more informed about this issue and not just respond to the media hype.


I also found many other studies the person who runs this blog, has. They have several blogs, the main one is below. And the recidivism studies are on this blog.

Where's Waldo

Every remember those "Where's Waldo? Book where you had to find Waldo in a large group of people? Took you a while to find him right?! Well that's what it's like finding the real threat in the registry system. There are so many people being put on the registry that it's become a crowd of people and trying to find the real threats is like trying to find Waldo. Being a parent I'm not one to rely on the information given to me by a website. I like to talk to my neighbors, get to know them, find out what they are about and who they are. I'm also not one to carry a burning torch ready to throw it on the roof of some house simply because I have a gut feeling. Prudence, knowledge, and an understanding of who lives around you are good tools to use when raising children. Being a productive part of their lives and teaching them without fear and hysteria is more productive and better for them, as well as yourself all around.

After reading this story, I

After reading this story, I wanted to know the truth about recidivism for these guys. I found this site which has state reports on recidivism.

These laws are unconstitutional, period! First, let me get this out. I am totally against ANY form of abuse to any human being. And I believe anyone who murders another human being should be in prison for the rest of their life (until they die). I do not believe in the death penalty for anyone. Also, I believe that once a person has been in and out of prison and has served their probation and parole, done everything required of them, and what was signed on the "contract" when they took the plea, none of this should be required of them, none of it. The state cannot tear up a contract like this, which they are basically doing, it's unconstitutional. Many people, if they had known they would be faced with all this, they would have NOT taken a plea deal. And the courts are very aware of this and this is why they made it retroactive; thus violating ex-post facto laws! They should be allowed to get on with their life as if nothing happened. I'm not saying for it to be removed from their record, but, the crime should be removed from public view and background checks, they should not have any more restrictions, shaming, etc. If they commit another crime, then they face a lot more punishment, like everything else is treated. When are we going to move away from being "TOUGH ON CRIME" and move to being "SMART ON CRIME?" If you locked every single s*x offender up, at this moment, or killed every one of them, do you think the problem is over? No, more will follow. I've heard many people say "If these laws protect one child, then they are worth it!" And at the same time, if millions are tortured, it's ok. Offenders are losing their homes, jobs, families, and children and cannot find new jobs or homes due to the insanity of these laws. The families are also made into outcasts for associating with or being related to an ex-offender and their own children are harassed and bullied at schools due to a family member being an ex-offender. I know these laws are a sensitive issue, but as all issues, they must be discussed and we must come up with a valid solution that will work. The laws, as they exist now, DO NOT WORK! People are always saying they cause unintended consequences. These laws have been on the books for years now, so nothing is unintended anymore. When are we going to set aside fear, hate, rage and anger and come up with a real solution? History has proven that these feelings NEVER get good laws passed but only create bad ones that punish and torture many people. These knee-jerk reactions to a slim number of high-profile crimes, like Adam Walsh and Jessica Lunsford, MUST STOP! When an ex-offender is forced to move from his/her home, thus having to sell it, cannot find another home within the law due to the residency "buffer" zones, get fired from their jobs due to being on the registry, cannot find a new job due to being on the registry, their husband/wife lose their jobs due to a significant other being on the registry, their children lose their friends and are harassed and bullied in school due to a family member being on the registry, thus destroying the children's lives, ex-offenders are forced into homelessness and to live under bridges, harassed by police, neighbors and probation/parole officers, have to wear "I'm a s*x offender T-shirt" or have a neon green license plate on ALL their cars, have "s*x offender" on their drivers license and forced to renew their licenses every year, forced from shelters during tornadoes or hurricanes, cannot give blood at some places due to being discriminated against for being on the s*x offender registry, denied housing due to being on the registry, signs placed in their yards inviting harassment and ridicule from the neighbors, forced to move when the neighbors start picketing outside the ex-offenders home, the list is endless. I THINK THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BEYOND THE EXTREME!

This is great. I have never

This is great. I have never seen a more informed group. It's true that the re offence rate for sex offenders is one of the lowest of any other crime. The only one that is lower is murder. So how much of a problem are these people? Well the ones that are predators sure we need to nail these guys down and know what they are doing. Ok that takes care of 5%. So why do we need to keep on with tracking the other 95% for life. 97% of the new crimes are committed by new offenders. You would be better off finding out everything about everyone. Hmm sounds like the woman that used to sit in her front room watching everyone when I was growing up. That woman knew everything about everyone.Turned out there was more incest and sex abuse in her family then anyone on the block.

sex offender

I just learned that an offender lives in my cul de sac(indecent liberties w/minors)-2 offenses,convicted last march, should i alert my other neighbors?

Educate yourself

Please folks educate yourself before panciing. My son had teen consensual sex at 16 and a expunged record by judge yet he is still by law required to register as a predator for life...he is no danger yet politicians are not telling you the go to the registry and as he ages it will continue to look as if he violently raped a child instead of teen sex and he will suffer for life due to peoples ignorance. Learn the truth cause there are cases in the registry which should not be there making it harmful for society who can no longer determine who is a real thrat...sign our petition and deamnd change to save all our sons or educate yourselves read our reports or visit radio show listen to the experts

i am glad to see that some

i am glad to see that some people are finally realizing you cannot judge a person just by them being on the registry. is the purpose of prison time the same for every person convicted of a crime???and is that purpose not for punishment by loss of freedom and financial loss,but also for rehabilatation??? if they are going to have the registry, they need to also put more detail on the supposed "crime" i have heard of too many cases of an 18 yr old having a relationship with a younger person (or something similar)and all is well till someone gets pissed off and presses charges.its not the same thing,people!!! be aware,stay informed, watch your kids,but dont jump to conclusions.

Sex Offender Registry

The biggest mistake people make is using the Sex Offender Registry as the only tool to keep their children safe! The most important thing you can do to keep your children safe is watch them around family and close family friends. More often than not children are subject to sexual molestation from someone you know. I speak from experience...

One assault against a child

One assault against a child and they need to be locked up forever. Joseph Duncan who went on to kidnap Dylan and Shasta Groene and ultimately murdered Dylan after killing their mother, brother and family friend had this to say about his sex offender status: "The truth is I am not an exception, I am the rule! Most sex offenders are just like me." Why give them another chance to victimize a child again? Or murder her mother for trying to protect her? We must protect our citizens.


Since when can TWO people be alike? One person can never speak for everyone. ALL sex offenses are grouped into the registry,thus a 'sex offender'. There was a time that the registry was for those like Duncan, but not anymore. My son and his girlfriend took a racey picture on a cell phone. The cell phone had a locked code on it, no one else saw it and it was never placed on the internet. My son is now being punished for their act and he is a registered sex offender. He too will grow old the the registry while his state-made 'victim' will be forever young. The registry needs to be restored to its true intent! American's should be outraged and DEMAND it!

The NC registry gives little

The NC registry gives little information that would be useful to parents. I have young children and there are three offenders in my neighborhood. I am most concerned about those convicted of serious sexual crimes against minors. I am not worried about anyone who got in trouble for dating someone a few years younger. The registry should give detailed information about the offense so parents can make a realistic threat assessment. I hate that I have to assume the worst about my neighbors without knowing the facts.

Guess Who is teaching and coaching your children

Curiousity got the better of me one a couple years ago and I began to keep the names of teachers, coaches, school employees, charged or arrested for child sex offenses. I'm up to over 425 names in NC. Way too many of these 'educators' get to plead down and get probation only. Find out who lost their NC teaching license at: There is also a NC Dept of Justice website you can access to check out after they are sentenced (including those who get probation only which is most of them). Roy T. Cooper's new and improved sex offender website is not as informative and easy to use as was the old one and, of course, Cooper doesn't want you harassing the sex offender and you must agree not to harass them in order to peek at the list of registered sex offenders. Cooper warns you could be charged with a crime if you harass a convicted and registered sex offender. Tell your NC legislator it was not a good idea to give 'potential child sex offenders in schools' a legal right to take a child in private and hit them (corporal punishment). Trust no one when it comes to your child. No One!

this is a story that would

this is a story that would have ran in about 1999, not 2008.. Is this a shame or what. Are you people in wilmington behind the times..i mean cmon. Are civilians completely illiterate?

what to do if asexoffender lives close by

this is a typical example on how to give the hype to people. have you ever checked the registry?do you know how easy it is to become a sexoffender?if you think you know,go and ask,it's that easy.people don't ask questions anymore,it's easier to assume.the majority of sexoffenders have not even hurt a child.find out for yourself,check out see all those sad stories.educate yourself and the next time a politician is getting"tough on sexoffenders" ask yourself what motivation is behind this action.get a gripp people, ask questions,find out for yourself, your constitutions are on fire!!

Sex Offender Registry

Detective Lawson's comment, "...if you have a gut feeling something's wrong, it probably is. Contact your local sheriff's office." is not always good advice. Some judges find very little difference between "a gut feeling" and harassment. An Indiana offender won a sizeable judgement after being visited by his local sheriff on a weekly basis to check out the the "gut feelings" of his neighbors. The offender is currenly suing the Homeowners Association. A lot of people on the offenders list are not a threat to anyones children and don't deserve to painted with the same brush that others do deserve. Politicians have been woefully inept at writing good sex offender laws. They want to be seen as "tough on crime" without addressing the hard issues that come with this kind of offense. These hard facts remain. 94% of first time offenders never do it again. And the establishment of the public registry has not changed this rate of recidism one bit after 10 years. The sad fact is that next child aducted will mostly likely be by a parent. The next child molested will be a family member or trusted friend of the family, not by someone on the Sex Offender List.

Mixed feelings

I really have mixed feeling about how "sex offenders" are literally hounded for the rest of their lives. In theory, they served their time in jail and should be considered rehabilitated and ready to re-integrate back into the world. In practice, I'm under the impression that there is a high rate (or risk at least) of recidivism, so due diligence does seem prudent in spite of their "rehab". Still... I know of no other class of offender who faces a lifetime of hounding like these people do. I can understand ongoing psychiatric evaluation, indefinite probation, and limitations on where they can go, but how can one try to get past their mistakes and live a relatively normal life when they are the constant subject of public scrutiny and harassment?

such a stale topic and your

such a stale topic and your tyring to resurrect the dead. Just give it up people. If people dont know what to do by now they arent worth trying to protect.

What to do if you find a Sex Offender is your Neighbor

If I checked the registry and found a sex offender lived on my street, the first thing I would do is set out to learn everything I could about their crime. I would want to know the details. Questions I would be asking the authorities (go to your local law enforcement office for this information, if it's not on your registry): 1. Age of the person's victim? 2. How long ago did this occur? 3. Has he re-offended that anyone knows of? This neighbor that you say has kids and lots of kids in the neighborhood go over there, you might be surprised to find out what he was convicted of. With the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, as well as Megan's Law and Jessica's Law, many people, who's crimes were committed 15 or more years ago, are now on the registry even though they weren't put there by their sentencing judge. Ex Post Facto doesn't apply to this type of offender. You'll be surprised to find out how many people on this registry committed their crime YEARS ago and have lived law abiding lives since. Yes, you should know, and yes, you should be vigilant, but most of all you should be INFORMED. A name on a registry doesn't tell you anything. You could be telling neighbors to keep their kids away from his kids for no reason. His crime may have had absolutely nothing to do with a child. At least KNOW that before you harm HIS children by taking their friends away from them.

What to do

Justus has given you some very valuable information. Not much I can add except to say that I would (depending on what I found out about the man) wave and smile if I saw him outside and I would pray with my husband about him and plan a visit to his house. Maybe take some Christmas cookies. This lets him know that YOU know he is there, you will be cautious but still treat him as a human being. And for God's sake, if the man has a family with children, invite the children to your house to play. Perhaps you can make a plan so that your children can go over and play with his children when he is not at home if you don't feel comfortable any other way. The pain we are visiting on the children of for mer sex offenders is life altering for them. We should all be very ashamed of ourselves. When we say we love children and want to protect them and then shun the innocent we are living a lie.