The musings of a juggling mother

Rants & raves about life as a woman today, juggling work, home, kids, family, life the universe & everything.

© Mrs Aginoth. The right of Mrs Aginoth to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday 13 - Megan's Law

Thirteen Reasons I don't want Megans' Law/Sarahs' Law in the UK

1. What’s the point? If I discover a paedophile is living down the road to me, should I say to my kids “now, that Mr Jones at number 38* is a bad man and you should never go into his house with him, but if anyone else invites you in or asks you to go for a ride in their car, that’s just hunky-dory & fine”,

2. How will it help? Knowing where they live will not change the fact that they live there, so in what way is it helpful to know?

3. Vigilantes. IMO vigilante action is always bad. IM experience vigilante action invariably happens when a sex offender is “outed”, or even suspected in a community. Teaching our kids that they can solve problems through violence will damage our society beyond imagining.

4. Loss of control. The known outcome of vigilante action (and Megan’s Law in general) is that it drives paedophiles underground. People who would have previously followed their parole orders strictly & reported to the police every day/week/whatever will disappear from the police radar. Currently the police can keep an eye on these people, and local schools/leisure centres etc are given their details if considered necessary. If they refuse to comply with the sex offenders register rules, the only way to find these people is after they re-offend.

5. Who & what will be available? Are we intending to publish the complete sex offenders register? Because it’s very long and contains people who have committed offences such as Rape (a 17 year old boy having consensual sex with his 17 year old girlfriend), Public Indecency (a married couple having sex in their local woods), Buggery (a 19 & 21 year old gay couple having sex in their own home) , Voyeurism (a 16 year old lad watching his next door neighbour get undressed) and Exposure (“mooning” out of a car window).** Or are we going to pick out particularly bad crimes? Which ones? Who decides? What if my child is attacked by someone on the register, but not listed publicly – can I sue?

6. House prices. Ok, it’s incredibly superficial, but in a country where most peoples quality of life is completely controlled by their house price, the public register is going to cause absolute havoc. 90%, 95% or even 100% mortgages are not uncommon. If your house price drops below your mortgage value the bank can foreclose & you will be homeless. If the register is published there is no doubt that nearby house prices will plummet. I remember the 80’s where 1000’s of people were made homeless each week. I know many of them who are only now just about getting their life sorted out 20 years later. And it will make the prices not only drop, but fluctuate wildly. If I decide to buy a new house next week, search the register for a good place and pay a premium to be safe, then a week after I move in, Mr Smith the nasty rapist is released from prison and moves in next door. I immediately lose £50,000 off my house value!

7. Getting it wrong. Remember when the News of The World first did their own little outing experiment? A well respected, committed & life-saving paediatrician was beaten & forced out of home because mobs are stupid. Another person was beaten & terrorised because they looked a bit like a paedophile and another because they shared a name! I don’t want my kids growing up in a society that supports such actions.

8. What the register doesn’t include. Like all these things, the register only tells you about people that have been caught, convicted & served a sentence for a crime. Not much help really for protecting yourself or your kids from the guy who scares his victims so much they never tell, or the one who has not offended before, or the one who has killed all of his previous victims and not been caught….

9. It’s pandering to a misconception. Namely, that strangers are bad & out to get you, and that the streets are not safe & violent sexual crimes are on the increase in our horrible modern world. ALL WRONG! The vast majority of sexual and violent crimes (especially against children) are committed within the family or by a family friend. The number of children snatched off the street at random by a paedophile has not changed at all since records began, remaining steady at 4 per year on average.

10. It misses too much out. Only people convicted since 1997 are on the register. Any offenders from prior to then will retain their anonymity.

11. It doesn’t solve the problem. We need to be looking at who becomes a sexual offender, and what warning signs are there BEFORE they offend, not get hung up on who has done something already. The register will create a false feeling of safety.

12. It demonizes the criminal. No, I’m not in favour of paedophilia, but nor do I feel that our current demonisation of anyone on the sex offenders register is a good thing. Many of those people live good, useful and socially responsible lives at the present. That will be denied them if the register became public – a loss for them, their family and society as a whole.

13. It makes a mockery of our justice system. Whatever happened to Justice is blind? Where will it stop? Why should it only be sex offenders that we know about? What about violent criminals? Burglars? Drug users? They are all dangers to my home & family’s safety and security. And when we have all those public registers available, who will be the first to say how complicated the whole process is, and why not do something more obvious – branding perhaps.

*This is a ficticious Mr Smith @ no.38. I have no idea who lives at no. 38 and am sure that all Mr Smith's are very nice men!

**All real cases

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  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:50:00 am, Anonymous Susan said…

    Excellent, excellent points! I have long thought that it is ridiculous to have consenting 17 year-olds who had an unhappy parent press charges on the same list as an adult who commits violent, life-changing acts on a 6 year old.

    And in America the list also includes people who have "taken liberties" with animals. Why in the world do I want to know this stuff? How does that affect the safety of my family? Perhaps I should keep Fido inside at night?

    Before we bought our house the Realtor advised us to check the register but I thought, what good could that do? The neighborhood might be "clean" when we check but that could change two days after we move in. What then? I don't let my kids play outside the rest of their lives?

    And like you said, it doesn't show the ones who haven't been caught yet or who will commit a future crime. The register provides a false sense of security and too many people who are not a true threat to my family or society are included.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 10:58:00 am, Blogger debambam said…

    Some very well thought out points in that there post of yours! And all very valid and much so theres not much I can add, except to say, couldn't have said it bettery myself!

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 11:51:00 am, Blogger Something's Missing said…

    All things I never considered!

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 12:49:00 pm, Blogger FRIDAY'S CHILD said…

    I agree with you 100%
    Thanks for dropping by.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 1:39:00 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    I completely agree. I hate that all kinds of sex crimes are included, especially ones that have nothing to do with children, which was the whole point in the first place!

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 2:03:00 pm, Blogger Ardice said…

    I agree with a few of your reasons you don't want Megan's Law in the UK. You know, the worst offenders that you really want to be protected from don't even register like they should. There's a lot wrong with the law that they need to fix.

    Thanks for stopping by my TT. Have a lovely day...

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 2:15:00 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    I agree, there are a lot of folks who aren't included that I would like to know are living nearby, and people who are included that I really don't feel a need to know about.

    But, given the nature of the original case, I understand where their heart was when they drafted the legislature.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 2:43:00 pm, Blogger K T Cat said…

    Some very interesting things. It made me think. Thanks!

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 2:45:00 pm, Blogger Louise said…

    Totally agree with everything you say.

    The list would be so ineffective, particularly as most children are abused by members/friends of the family.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 3:33:00 pm, Blogger Barbara said…

    I personally like the ability to go online and see sex offenders (not just pedophiles) who live near us. And, there are many. Some of these people I have seen on the streets, look like your average person, but they aren't. That's what bothers me - what you don't know, when you have no clue about who they are.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:22:00 pm, Blogger Meg said…

    Hmm, I had never thought of it that way before. You really opened up a whole new way of thinking for me.

    However, it did come in handy once because a child molester lived around the corner and we were able to get him out of our neighborhood. You see, he was living within a mile of a school, which is a big no-no. Now we don't have him in our neighborhood. One down, one million to go...

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 5:30:00 pm, Blogger Pilot Mom said…

    It does help if you are looking to buying a home and don't want to buy a home in the area of a pediophile.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 6:19:00 pm, Blogger Raggedy said…

    If any law or information can save just one child is it not worth it?
    I check the registery often. I checked it before we bought our home in the town we live in. You bring up an excellent point about them going undergound, if they surface and get caught it is more time and a porole violation.
    Thanks for stopping by my place.
    Have a wonderful TT day!

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 6:56:00 pm, Anonymous Ma said…

    You have made some really good points there. More people should think about it in the way that you have here.

    Thanks for stopping by my TT.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:10:00 pm, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said…

    All good points. There are no easy answers and I agree, who decides who's on the list and what constitutes a sex crime? I'm not sure where I stand on having a list. As you point out, it's not always accurate and what purpose does it really serve, though I'd also like to know if a pedophile was living right next door. I have a lot of thinking to do about this issue. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:29:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    Wow, I really thought I was going to be flamed in the comments - i'm relieved that so many people agreed with me & that those who didn't were polite about it:-)

    Susan - I didn't know much about the US list, other than it exists & has a brief description of the crimes included. I'm amazed that you managed to avoid checking it - the whole concept of the list is to produce mommyguilt:-)

    DBB - thanks:-)

    Something - glad I made you think - that's the best anyone can hope for!

    Jen - I don't really understand what was going through the legislators head when they drafted the law - because, as I said, how will it help anyone? I think it's a political ploy to make us more afraid, more distrustful & more reliant on Governemnet to tell us what to do & how to do it!

    KT cat - thanks, as I said, giving people something to think about is the most I hope for.

    Louise - Exactly!!! And it won't help those children AT ALL!

    Barabara - well of course they look like normal people. How would you expect them to look? But all the other normal people may have secrets too, just not yet caught/acted upon/had the opportunity. I don't really see that my knowing that the guy 5 doors away had a bad stag night & was left wandering the streets naked has anything to do with me, or any impact on my family. Nor does it help to know that the guy across the road has raped 7 little girls - I can't stop him living there!

    Meg - how did you "get him out" of your neighbourhood? And all you did was send him to someone elses neighbourhood. Nit a particularly sucessful solution on a national scale. But I'm glad I made you think a bit:-)

    pilot mum - not really, as I said in the post, you'll pay a premium for a safe area, then two days later a paedophile moves in next door. What can you do?

    Raggedy - interseting point, and the answer is sometimes no - the life of one is not always worth the loss of so much for so many, but in fact, that doesn't even apply here. There is no evidence that the public knowing where they live reduces the chance of them re-offending, while there is plenty of evidence that a public register encourages them to go underground so that no-one knows where they are, making it safer for them to re-offend!

    VV - you could always try talking to your neighbours & getting to know them:-) I'll stick with educating my kids about not going places alone with people (even people they know), and what is and isn't appropriate behaviour for adults & children & to trust me & tell me if they have any concerns. It's much safer than just saying Mr Smith at no. 38 is a bad man, but everyone else is OK, or teaching them that everyone is evil, which is even worse, and a regular battle I have at my sons school.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:35:00 pm, Anonymous ~ Stacy ~ said…

    All excellent points, Mrs. A. I agree with Debambam... not much I can add here, you've covered it so well.

  • At Thursday, July 13, 2006 10:50:00 pm, Blogger Susan said…

    This is a great's such a fine line isn't it? We want our children to be aware, but not be fearful....You have done a great job covering the issue.

    My TT is up here

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 7:34:00 am, Anonymous Laura said…

    Hi, just stopped by for the first time and was immediately struck by your excellent list.

    Because the messenger is so effective a lot of people fail to see that the consequences of the message have the potential of being dangerous in a different way.

  • At Friday, July 14, 2006 9:26:00 am, Blogger Emily said…

    Great post JM

    As I said before, I've always advocated that for child abuse you need to look closer to home than out of the streets of strangers (just as your statistics have bourne out).

    If you lose those on the register by outing them, all is lost. Track and trace is the only way to check if offenders are repeating behaviour.

    The thing is counselling for the abused and NOT like the counselling I had. I finally got round to writing my post about my teenage experience of social workers. It would be funny if it wasn't the only access to help I got from the NHS and Social Services.

    Anyway, would you mind if I linked to your Megan's Law post next week and do a few extra thoughts? I said I would do some digging into the 2003 sex offences act about whether the register now contains historic data. I will try and find some stats on repeat offenders too.

    Have a good weekend.

  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 1:55:00 am, Blogger Lisa said…

    Hey there!

    Excellent points, all. But Mr. Smith lives at number 39! He moved recently, did you not get the memo? heheh

    Thanks for stopping by my 13! I'm gonna check out some of your posts.

    Have a good weekend.

  • At Saturday, July 15, 2006 7:48:00 pm, Blogger panthergirl said…

    It's definitely a double-edged sword, although I *would* like to know if a convicted sex offender lives near me. Not for vigilante action, but because it may affect my desire to remain here.

    The only point I don't agree with is the part about pedophiles living productive lives. It is widely agreed that pedophiles are never 'cured'. It is the ultimate in compulsive behavior and for whatever reason, it just doesn't end. Ever.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, and I agree that vigilante justice is wrong. I just want to know if I'm going to buy a house near a convicted pedophile before I make my investment and put my kids in harm's way.

    Here via michele!

  • At Sunday, July 16, 2006 8:37:00 am, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    "its widely agreed" is it? By who?

    I suppose it depends on your definition of paedophile really. The ones who are moved to snatch children off the srteet, rape, abuse & murder them i would agree, not "curable", not wanted on the streets. The 18 year old boy who slept with his 17 year old girlfriend? I don't see any problem with him living a productive & usful life without ever "Re-offending" (once his girlfriend turns 18 anyway!)

    And, as I said, I personally know three sex offenders. Two of them hold down very responsible jobs (one is still in prison), and are stable, useful and family-mided members of the community. One was convicted of a sexual offence against a child. I would welcome into my home & leave him to baby-sit my two baby girls (and the boy) without hesitation.


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