“Dear Abby–My son’s friend’s stepdad is a ‘sex offender'”

On March 27, Abby’s column was a letter from a mom concerned that her son Joey was being invited to play at the home of his friend Paul, whose stepdad was a registrant due to a conviction for an offense against a child. Abby was incredulous that such a person was “allowed” to live in a home with a minor. We saw this as a good opportunity to do a little educating, and we sent this letter to Abby via the online platform on her website, with the assurance that it would be read. Will we get a response? Will it be printed? Only time will tell, and we will update as needed. This is the letter we sent:

Dear Abby,

I would like to address your column of April 27 in which you were surprised to hear that a man who had a prior conviction for a sexual offense against a minor was living in a home with children.

I represent the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws—NARSOL—and your surprise is due to not understanding the factors involved in this issue.

Virtually no state has statutes that make it illegal for registrants—persons on sex offender registries—to live with minor children who were not their victims. One or two states have attempted such laws only to face legal challenges. States are unable to prove that such laws benefit public safety because there is no evidence that they do.

The reason you believed that this could not occur is because of the very mistaken belief, fostered largely by the media, that people with prior offenses of this sort have a high risk of repeating the offense. In actuality, the opposite is true. In the largest and most comprehensive sexual recidivism study ever done, the Department of Justice discovered that after three years, only 5.3% of people with previous sexual offense convictions were rearrested for a new sexual offense (and only 3.5% were convicted), and only 2.2% of those were against a child. A compilation of studies from most of the states in the U.S. shows results of reoffense ranging from virtually 0% through the majority averaging around 3% with a couple of outliers at 7-8%.

Bearing out these numbers are other studies showing that approximately 96% of new, sexual crime is committed by persons with no previous convictions. And finally, studies have been done showing that the longer one stays offense free living in the community, the less and less the risk of that person ever committing another sexual offense.

Numerous studies verify that the best hedge against reoffense is for former offenders to become a part of community life with as much involvement with family and friends as possible. People who commit crimes should be appropriately punished. Paul’s stepfather has been. Then everything possible should be done to foster rehabilitation and re-connection to a healthy lifestyle and a law-abiding community; this, more than anything, helps prevent reoffense.

Abby, please advise Joey’s mom to have a frank talk with Paul’s mom; to meet Paul’s stepfather, talk frankly with him about your concerns, and get to know him; and to invite Paul’s family over for a lunch or a barbeque or just to visit while the boys play together.

NARSOL is an organization that advocates for laws based on facts and evidence and for policies that support the successful rehabilitation, restoration, and reintegration of law abiding, registered persons into society as the path to a safer society. You have a big voice, Abby. You could be a major factor in helping this message reach a broad audience, and you would be performing a much-needed service for registrants, their families, and society as a whole, as well as expressing belief in the possibility of redemption and second chances.

Thank you so much,

Sandy Rozek

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

One Thought to ““Dear Abby–My son’s friend’s stepdad is a ‘sex offender'””

  1. AvatarTim in WI

    Dear abb(e)y was never written by a person named Abbey.
    It’s a clever use of a synonym, A contrived marketing trick with moral standard implication and connotations. ( not unlike SOR) While the syndicated ” advice” ICON was popular and carried by many local and regional newspapers all over America., The decline of those paper based institutions reach has also diminished the moral reach of the columns authors. Yes, there was more than one or two individuals engaged in that populist value added presentation. Fact is most of the Columns advice seekers were female.
    Today Dear Abby is mostly irrelevant.

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