Friday, October 25, 2013

No More

It's still a week away, and I am already beyond sick of it.

I've already blogged twice about it; this makes three times.

Every day brings another two or three articles about the "precautions" being taken to "safeguard" children on this one day of the year on which they are the most "vulnerable" to assault from registered sex offenders.

I tried to comment on every article, but I grew weary--not to mention repetitive.

I also grew disgusted at reading the same rhetoric over and over. This is being done for the children. No precaution is too great if it protects them. We just can't be too careful when it comes to our children.Whether it was from Ohio or South Carolina, from California or Louisiana, the headlines all started to sound the same. "Halloween safety includes avoiding sex offenders." "Amherst councilman seeks trick-or-treat ban for registered sex offenders." "Sheriff urges parents to check sex offender registry before Halloween."

I quit at 33, and that was yesterday with a full week to go. Who knows how many jurisdictions in how many states will feel compelled to chime in and announce to the world their plans to keep children from being assaulted by registered sex offenders who most assuredly will use this opportunity to don a mask and grab a little trick-or-treater or lure one into his home with the promise of candy.

I mean, it has happened so many times before, hasn't it? Well, actually, no. As far as rather thorough searches by multiple people can tell, it has never happened before.

And academic studies have been done examining the increased risk to children for sexual assault from any quarter on Halloween. And they have found a most interesting thing. They have found that the risk of sexual harm to children on Halloween is exactly as it is the other 364 days of the year. There is zero increased risk on Halloween. Hmmm. I wonder if they know that in Ohio and South Carolina and all the many other places where towns and cities and entire states are spending money and wasting resources preventing a problem that doesn't exist...that never existed.

There have been a couple of bright spots in this dismal scene. The first came from a journalist named Emily Horowitz, an associate professor of sociology at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. She wrote "Manufacturing Fear: Halloween Laws for Sex Offenders," a brilliant piece that presents the truth and the evidence supporting it with clarity and literary skill.

And then today appeared "Fear the Bogeyman: Sex Offender Panic on Halloween." Written by Andrew Extein, a psychotherapist who does sex offender therapy in private practice, this scholarly piece explores a culture's need for monsters and bogeymen as it has evolved through the years.

And there have been a few others that speak the truth, that question the necessity for scaring parents with the need to guard against a risk that does not exist, but they are few and scant and, much like this, will not be read by many, while the headlines that scream for the need to "Protect the children" will be heard and tweeted and shared by, it seems, everyone in North America.

But I will read no more, not this year. I have had enough. I may read Emily's and Andrew's pieces again, but if a town in Alabama or New Mexico or Minnesota decides that it needs to enact a ban before next Thursday against those on the registry carving a pumpkin or taking a son or daughter trick or treating, they will just have to do it without me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"'s okay to bully sex offenders, isn't it?"

Bullying is very much in the news right now. My friend Marie over at Notes from the Handbasket posted a brilliantly done piece today.

And someone called Scoot at wrote a most thought provoking piece about bullying.

These are the jewels gleaned from his piece.

"It is imperative for every parent to teach their children the coping skills to deal with bullying. The first simple lesson is that nothing anyone else says to you, or about you, can actually change who you are."

"We now live in a society that has developed the collective belief that we have a right to go through life and not be offended by anything or anyone. There will always be things that offend us in life and no one should expect, or demand, a world that is free of things we find offensive."

"Our quest to achieve a politically correct society has contributed greatly to the idea that we have this right not to be offended. Younger generations have been protected and coddled by their parents’ generations to the point where they are no longer taught the emotional survival skills we learned."

These are tidbits that may more appropriately fit with the philosophy, with which I totally agree, of another blogger friend, Lenore, over at Range Free Kids.

But I started with the Handbasket Notes, and there I will return.

Those who are registered sex offenders, their children, and their families, know first hand about bullying. It has been an element in the suicide of many a person who is accused of a sexual crime or who was on the public registry and found life intolerable. It has been the cause of misery, torment, property damage, and actual physical assault up to and including murder for many, many more. Research done by Jill Levenson and Lynn University in Florida documents the extent to which bullying of registrants and their families has gone.

In the arena of cyber-bullying, that against registered sex offenders as a class exceeds any other. Any article about a sex offender issue draws comments that are vile and vicious. The Internet offers anonymity, and that is when our true natures come out. I cannot judge the condition of another's soul, but if what they write when no one knows who they are is any indication, their souls must be as black as the jaws of Hell.

"Too bad the shooter was such a poor shot!" This was posted on an article about a registrant being shot, barely escaping death, just because his name was on the public registry.

On an article about legislation to forcefully castrate sex offenders at their own expense, we have, "Make them pay for it? I would cut their balls off for free," and, "I would vote for this in a heart beat. In fact, I think these pricks needs to be stripped naked, marched through city streets to a public area where he will be on a high platform for everyone to see...." What follows turned my stomach and made me wonder if all humans really come from the same beginning.

And finally, on an article about a man who was just accused of sexual misconduct being beaten within an inch of his life by a mob, a poster nailed it: "If the government didn't want the registered sex offenders assaulted and beaten, they wouldn't have them register so the public can find them and beat them. I say every one registered should get same treatment as this offender got, if not worse!"

Out of the mouths of vigilantes.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Death That Should Not Be

Remember a song from the '70s by Ray Stephens called "The Streak"? It was a humorous, musical tribute to a fad that had become popular mostly on college campuses but occasionally showed up in other places.

I suppose there were some sort of charges brought against those young men who chose to discard their clothing and dash across football fields or through farmers' markets--at least the ones they could catch. It would have had something to do with public nuisance or public indecency and would have involved a fine and possibly a few days in jail. The boys involved would undoubtedly have faced more grief once they got home than they did at the police station.

Had we been told then that in a few decades, young men who engaged in such behavior would have been charged with a criminal act, a sexual crime, and would have been forced to be listed as a sexual criminal on something called a sex offense registry, we would have laughed in disbelief.

This is what happened to a young man, only 15, really still a child, named Christian Adamek. Christian lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and was apparently a popular and well-loved boy with many, many friends in his high school. Scarcely two weeks ago, the last week in September, during a Sparkman High School football game, Christian streaked across the field.

Christian faced immediate and serious consequences. He would be subject to school disciplinary action, something that would be expected. It may have included expulsion. However, school authorities decided that this was not sufficient.

Principal Michael Cambell said, "There's the legal complications. Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up."

Indecent exposure in Alabama, as it is in many, probably most, of our states, is linked to the state's sex offender laws, meaning that had he been convicted of that offense, he would be required to be on the sex offender registry.

One week later, on October 2, Christian hanged himself. He died two days later. His mother, his brother and sister, his boy scout troop, and his many friends, teachers, and neighbors all mourn his death.

I did not know him, but I am choked with fury and grief and despair at his death. My heart actually hurts.

If his high school administrators had any choice, as it appears they did, in turning this over to legal authorities, then damn them. And most of all damn a system that equates a silly, stupid, schoolboy stunt with an actual sexual crime. Damn a system that grows stronger and stronger by touting claims that it is all about protecting children when what it does is destroy children.

How many more children will be destroyed, sacrificed on the alter of the sex offender registry, before we decide we have had enough?

God keep you in His care, Christian, and may He give comfort to your family and friends. Rest in peace, Christian, rest in peace.

This is the official "It's Almost Halloween; What Do We Do About Sex Offenders?" article

Two months ago I posted Is August Too Early to Write About Sex Offenders and Halloween? in response to yet another legislator looking to make hay by writing an ordinance making it a crime for anyone on the sex offender registry to participate in Halloween-related activities.                                

Now it is time to address the full topic. Why, you ask? Why advocate for not monitoring registered offenders on Halloween? What's the harm? I'm so glad you asked.

  • Most Halloween restrictions apply to everyone on the registry, whether or not their offense had anything to do with a child. This broad-brush application is bumping up against constitutional protections. Many registrants are forced to gather in one place for special "therapy sessions" or "pep-talks" or movies shown by law enforcement. If the registrant is not under community supervision, this sounds a lot like unlawful detention to me.
  • It is an unconscionable waste of taxpayer money. There are so many other areas in which law enforcement could be gainfully occupied on Halloween other than checking that registrants have no lights on and no jack-o-lanterns on the porch or showing movies to a roomful of registrants. One of these areas is traffic duty since the only increased risk to children on Halloween is not assault by registered sex offenders but car-child accidents.
  • Many, probably even most, registrants are family men. They have children. Under these restrictions, they cannot decorate their houses with or for their children; they cannot attend the carnival at the school with their children; they cannot take their children trick-or-treating.  

Now it's time for the experts to weigh in:

This is from an academic research study:
“There were no significant increases in sex crimes on or around Halloween, and Halloween incidents did not evidence unusual case characteristics. Findings did not vary across years prior to and after these policies became popular.

“In order to contextualize sex crimes against children we examined over 5 million victimizations that took place in 30 states on or around Halloween in 2005. The most common types of crime from among the incidents reported on Halloween and adjacent days were theft (32%), destruction or vandalism of property (21%), assault (19%) and burglary (9%). Vandalism and property destruction accounted for a greater proportion of crime around Halloween compared to other days of the year (21% vs. 14% of all reports). Sex crimes of all types accounted for slightly over 1% of all Halloween crime. Non-familial sex crimes against children age 12 and under accounted for less than .2% of all Halloween crime incidents.

“Other risks to children are more salient on Halloween. According to the Center for Disease Control, children ages 5 to 14 are four times more likely to be killed by a pedestrian/motor-vehicle accident on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Regarding criminal activity on Halloween, theft and vandalism are particularly common. Sex crimes against children by non- family members account for two out of every thousand Halloween crimes, calling into question the justification for diverting law enforcement resources on that day away from more prevalent public safety concerns.”

This is from non-academic commentary:
 “The intimidation campaign is a silly diversion of manpower and a waste of your tax dollars. Police and the politicians who are in search of tough-on-crime votes will tell you otherwise, but don’t believe the myth that Halloween is the night child sexual predators wait all year for. The facts tell a different story... Over the past several decades, there has not been one reported instance that I can find of a convicted sex offender molesting a child on Halloween night.”

And finally, this is a Halloween safety research and resource guide for parents published October, 2011, by a highly regarded world wide organization called There is nothing to quote from them. There is only the fact that they have researched every element of harm to children in connection with Halloween; their guide covers every possible eventuality and tells parents how to guard against it. It has many graphs, charts, and results of studies. Not one time within its 8 pages do the words “sex offenders” or “registry” appear. I believe that is called an argument from silence.

So please, enjoy Halloween; help your kids enjoy Halloween. And please spare a moment to think about the children whose Halloween enjoyment is curtailed because one of their parents is a registered sex offender and they are unfortunate enough to live in one of the jurisdictions where unneeded laws and restrictions make Halloween all trick and no treat for them.