Thursday, August 2, 2012

The child safety zombies

I know I shouldn't stoop to this level, but it's hard sometimes. And I'd like to believe that they are zombie-ish because they really do, or want to believe what they are saying or believing. I can understand how taking someone's word on a Facebook commenting board or Disqus discussion - regardless of the facts they present - might be difficult for some. Even if there are links to studies. Studies that I and other advocates did not "create". Studies and findings that are the result of university, state and federal governments.

However, I would imagine it difficult for even the most dedicated, hardcore zombie to ignore the words of real, live child safety advocates - those who actually have devoted their lives to working with real children, in real circumstances, and promoting policies that truly help them.

Unfortunately, it's usually the more wealthy "charities" - National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Klaas Kids, and proponents of laws named after children or teens who were brutally killed that get the most press. But with notoriety comes increased scrutiny. For example:
  • Ernie Allen, CEO of NCMEC, admitted under oath in December 2009 to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission that the center had fabricated statistics about the number of children actually "missing." (He also makes over $1.3 million a year, as of 2009.)
  • Thanks to Marc Klaas of Klaas Kids, law enforcement is now forced to interview every. single. sex offender. in the area in the event that a child is abducted - even though overwhelmingly, children are abducted by family. His website's guide to Megan's Law is full of inaccuracies and not one source is provided to back up the information (see for yourself: Sex Offender Fallacies.)
  • Megan's Law, Jessica's Law, Adam Walsh Act, and the Jacob Wetterling Act - all federal mandates adopted by most states as of 2012 - are based on scenarios that are heinous, yet extremely rare - and two of the four (AWA and JWA) were not sexually motivated crimes at all. But sensationalism sells - so the zombies latch on. 
Ironically, though, many true child advocates are staunchly against this type of misleading, ineffective tactic. Here are some surprising quotes from some even more surprising people: 

“Let’s use our resources on programs working to prevent child sexual abuse, not on public notification efforts that research has shown to increase recidivism and make our communities and children less safe.” – Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children and End Abuse Campaign

“All sexual assault survivors deserve protection from fair laws that effectively punish offenders. Instead, the current distribution of resources addresses just 4% of all sex crimes, leaving few resources to improve treatment, address prevention, and investigate and prevent the complex issues related to sexual abuse within families. Armed with a more accurate picture of the complexities of this population, practitioners, law enforcement and policymakers can more effectively target the risk factors that lead to sexual abuse crimes and reduce the number of victims who live with the consequences.” - Melissa D. Grady, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Child Advocacy Center 

“The registry lists represent a small proportion of sex offenders in any community, since most sexual abuse, nearly 88 percent, is never reported. So, the police and the courts can't warn us about the people responsible for most of the abuse that is committed across the United States. They don’t know who they are. But most likely, we do. Chances are, those most at risk to abuse our children are people we know in our families and in our community, who have horribly lost control.” – Stop It Now

“Initially, the [Jessica’s Law] proposals may seem to carry merit, but after closer examination all three have flaws so serious that their implementation may result in communities that are less safe.” – Texas Association Against Sexual Assault 

“Should you think that I am soft on violent and sexual crime, let me assure you that there is a dark painful part of my soul that wants people who hurt other people to never take another comfortable breath. However let us be intelligent. Given that we are a society of law, let us demand that the laws we do enact achieve their intended mission. Let us stop creating a false sense of security and wasting our precious resources on laws that simply do not work.” - Andrea Casanova, Founding Director of the ALLY Foundation, Mother of Alexandra (Ally) Zapp, who was sexually assaulted and murdered 

“[Jessica’s Law] was a knee-jerk reaction that went against almost everything we know that is effective in dealing with sex offenders.” - Robert Coombs, victims’ rights advocate and former chair of California’s Sex Offender Management Board 

“I’m worried that we’re focusing so much energy on naming and shaming convicted sex offenders that we’re not doing as much as we should to protect our children from other real threats…many states make former offenders register for life, restrict where they can live, and make their details known to the public. And yet the evidence suggests these laws may do more harm than good.” – Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling and founder of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation 

Why do we continue to listen to the ranting and raving of people who have something personal to gain - lawmakers, politicians and legislators - as if they are experts in the field? I cannot claim to be one, not by a longshot, but I can read, and I can comprehend the disconnect in our society between real solutions and ones that are proposed for one reason only (not being child safety.) 



  1. Thank you for gathering this information and putting it in one place! This will help us at California RSOL to educate the least those willing to listen.

  2. God Bless you, Shana. Keep up the great work. Continued blessings! May God continue to give you the strength and resources you need to run this race with perseverance and hope...

  3. I know, Shana, it must seem at times that you are shouting into the wind. But keep it up. Some day someone will hear us. I just pray it is soon.

  4. This is a wonderful piece, Shana, truthful, educational, and evocative of the extreme emotional issues surrounding this mission so many of us have embraced.

  5. Shana:

    You do wonderful work.

    I have been listed on a nanny big government Registry for around 15 years. I have not been approached by law enforcement about one single crime. Never asked about anything. I live in one of the largest cities in the country and I know there have been many child abduction and similar crimes.

    But it's good that they don't ever talk to me because it would be a waste and a distraction from actually trying to solve the crime. Further, because the Registries are an immoral, un-American, idiotic mess, I will never, ever cooperate with any government or any of their law enforcement agencies. The Registries are naturally counterproductive but I will also do anything that I can to help increase that. I will not speak to law enforcement for any reason. I go out of my way to be around children.

    I do that and more because and only because of the Registries. If the Registries didn't exist, I would simply be living a normal life like anyone else. But because they exist, I promise to be a problem and bring trouble to the people who support them. It is the proper moral response to them and the least they deserve.


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