Do you know whose door your kids are knocking on while trick-or-treating?
Every home may not be safe. There are more than 850,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, many convicted of crimes against minors.
Before trick-or-treating this Halloween, sheriff’s offices and police departments advise parents to check their local sex offender registry. However, many parents may not know where to look or what information is most important on the registries. OffenderWatch, the nation’s largest network of local and state agencies managing sex offenders, shares its tips on reading and understanding sex offender registries.
OffenderWatch partners with law enforcement nationwide to provide technical solutions and a network for managing sex offender registries. With more than 4,000 law enforcement agencies using OffenderWatch, Americans conduct about 1.3 million searches on its sex offender registries per week.
“Knowledge is power. We want parents to not only have the information families need to have a safe Halloween, but to also understand that information,” said Mike Cormaci, president and co-founder of OffenderWatch. “We’ve partnered with law enforcement across the country for more than 20 years, helping to improve the sex offender registry and making it easier for both law enforcement and the public to use.”
Safety tips for a safe Halloween:
- Before you go trick-or-treating, use a sex offender registry published by law enforcement. Not all registries are created equal. Many third-party websites publish outdated sex offender data, claiming it is accurate. Parents and guardians should only trust data provided through local law enforcement. To find your registry, search the website of your county’s sheriff’s office or police department, or visit https://smart.gov/sorna-map.htm and click on your state.
- Search an address and use the map to find offenders in your area. While on your county or city’s sex offender registry, input your home address or the address where you’ll be trick-or-treating to view a map of offenders in that area. Print out the map with addresses to take with you.
- Sign up for email notifications. While on your county or city’s sex offender page, sign up for email notifications so you will know if a registered sex offender moves into your neighborhood.
- Download the OffenderWatch App. Download the app on your phone and your child’s phone so you can locate registered sex offenders near you or your family, and be notified should a registered sex offender reach out to your child through call, text, email or SnapChat. You can also locate your child’s phone while trick-or-treating.
- Talk to your children. If sex offenders live in your neighborhood, point out their house to your children and explain the offender has a criminal record. Tell your children to let you know if the sex offender tries to talk to them or lure them inside.
Click below to download the OffenderWatch App for Android at Google Play Store and for iPhone at the Apple Store.
For more Halloween Safety Tips, click here.