You, as a parent, have the right to know if a convicted sex offender is living near you and your children may be in danger. Sex offender registry information is available to the public because of Megan’s Law, which was passed in California in 2004. Megan Kanka was a 7-year-old girl who was killed by a known sex offender who had moved in across the street. After her death, Megan’s family worked to make sure that local communities would be notified when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood. All 50 states now have a version of Megan’s Law.
Due to Megan’s Law, sex offenders are now required by federal law to register with the Department of Justice. There are several ways to find sex offenders in your area or near your child’s school.
- U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website: The Department of Justice has a database of registered sex offenders and coordinates information with jurisdictions in all 50 states. To find offenders, enter the name, locality or ZIP Code. This is a free service.
- Family Watchdog: Family Watchdog is another free service where you can access information about where sex offenders live and work. The site will also track sex offenders. Sign up to receive email notifications when a sex offender moves within five miles of your address.
- Criminal Check: Criminal Check is another free service to check locations of sex offenders.
If you become aware of a sex offender living in your neighborhood, you need to keep a closer eye on your children and quietly inform others with children in your neighborhood. Be aware that harassing a sex offender is a misdemeanor, though you must report any suspicious activity involving the abuse of a child to authorities.