Jacob Wetterling Resource Center: We Spend Too Much Money Watching Sex Offenders
May 25, 2017 10:34 PM
Thursday was National Missing Children’s Day, a day meant to highlight the problem of child abduction.
And while there have been advancements in laws and technology to keep children safe and help families, an organization known for protecting kids thinks says we spend too much money in at least one area.
“There is huge hysteria around released sex offenders when they are not usually the problem,” said Alison Feigh, the program director at the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center
Feigh said children are harmed most often by people they know, trust and have access to – not convicted sex offenders.
According to the Department of Corrections, 5.3 percent of level-three sex offenders re-offend. Ninety percent of convicted sex offenders are first-time offenders.
“And if we can support them in their ability to not hurt kids, we’re all going to be better off” Feigh said. “As opposed to turning up the heat when they move in and creating this cauldron of fear.”
Feigh thinks people get emotional about sex offenders.
“And I get why people jump to that idea of ‘Not in my backyard,’ because no one wants to think about it,” she said. “But our kids aren’t better off when we do that.”
She believes society is stuck on the idea that when a sex offender is released from jail and we know where they are, our kids must be safe.
But she said there are sex offenders in every community and we don’t know where they are. So we need to focus on prevention.
“We need to use our resources differently,” she said. “And it shouldn’t be all-in on using resources to watch sex offenders.”
The problem, according to Feigh, is prevention efforts don’t get a lot of money.
“We have so few resources in prevention; we want to use our resources on things that work,” she said.
The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center trains law enforcement, parents and medical and education professionals how to spot suspicious behavior, and when to intervene to protect kids.
“It’s a complicated issue” Feigh said. “I’m never going to go up in front of people and guarantee someone’s not going to re-offend. But how can we increase everybody’s chances and get on board in prevention in a way that best serves kids?”
In the future, Feigh hopes prevention will get the same money as punishment. But laws, policies and attitudes need to change for that to happen.
The goal of Jacob Wetterling Resource Center’s prevention work is to get ahead of abusive behaviors that may lead to offending. Parents can contact the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center in Minnesota at 1-651-714-4673.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is another resource to help families of missing and exploited children. To reach Team Hope, call 1-866-305-4673. To contact NCMEC, call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
From our Neighbors in Colorado The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
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