What is Family Watchdog?
It is a free online service that helps you locate and identify registered sex offenders living in your community. It is a valuable resource for families looking to protect their children from registered sex offenders and sexual predators in their neighborhoods.
Learn how to use Family Watchdog to Safeguard your children.
In this day and age… there are many threats to your child’s safety. Sexual predators can be lurking almost anywhere.
And, you might not be able to tell the sheep from the wolves.
Thankfully, it provides you with the technology to tell the good guys from the potentially bad guys.
The site provides a search tool for mapping out the home addresses of registered sex offenders. A color-coded marker on an interactive Google map represents each individual. It is also a great educational resource, with tons of statistics and articles on keeping your children safe.
You can even register to receive e-mail notifications so you can stay informed when registered offenders move into your area. Additionally, they provide updates on FDA Alerts, Food Allergy Warnings, Product Recalls and Medicine Recalls.
Megan’s Law – the inspiration behind Family Watchdog
In response to the rape and murder of 7-year-old, Megan Kanka, Megan’s Law was enacted in 1996. It mandated that all states require that sex offender registries be made public information.
Family Watchdog is one of several companies that emerged which aggregate these records of local sexually listed predators and essentially created a Megan’s Law Map.
Now, popular crime mapping apps such as Spot Crime and Crime Reports have followed suit and are providing sex offender listings in addition to crimes such as burglary, robbery, theft, arson, vandalism etc.
All of these are great tools to help families increase awareness and stay informed about the potential threats and risks within their communities.
Awareness is Your Best Defense
That is their motto- and it is why they introduced this outstanding free resource in 2005…to increase awareness and help families safeguard their children from potential threats. While many of us find some of this information unsettling-forewarned is forearmed.
The problem is likely much more prevalent than you think. Statistics show that 1 out of every 20 boys and 1 out of every 5 girls have been victimized by some form of sexual abuse. And the need for vigilance does not necessarily decrease as the child gets older…with the greatest percentage of incidents (35.9%) involving children 12 and older.
I was shocked to learn that there are 162 registered sex offenders living in the small, suburban community in which I live. You will likely be surprised as well.
How to Locate Sex Offenders in Your Area
The website is very easy to use. In addition to the search features, there is a wealth of information on family safety and related topics in their blog section. To get started, you just need to enter an address of an area you would like to research.
You might include your home address, the address of a school or daycare or perhaps a friend or relative’s address where the kids might be staying. The system will produce a map with virtual color-coded “pins” indicating the last known address of an RSO.
You can click on these markers to get a mugshot and profile of the offender. It also includes additional information, such as aliases, the criminal charges, and other known addresses. There are also paid links to more comprehensive background information on the individual.
Searching by Name
While most of us think that sexual predators are a violent criminal who are strangers, the sad truth is that about 60% of perpetrators are known to the family. If you have any suspicions, you can search by name and state.
Get E-mail Notification of Sex Offender Moves
In addition, you can register to receive an e-mail notification if a registered offender moves in or out of your area.
What to do when sex offenders live near you?
Research and Risk Assessment with Family Watchdog
If you are like most people, the number of registered offenders living in your community would surprise you. Although this is certainly cause for some concern, it is in all likelihood no reason to panic.
Many of these offenders fall under the realm of “Romeo and Juliet” offenders where the male is involved with a minor. For instance- a recently graduated high school senior who is involved with a 15 or 16-year-old minor. While the relationship might illustrate poor judgment, the individual is not necessarily a lifelong predator.
There are 3 levels of sex offenders. The first poses little threat to the community, the 2nd poses a moderate risk…and the 3rd level indicates that the offender presents a serious threat of repeating criminal behavior. The Family watchdog lists the state registries so that you can research individual further.
Nevertheless, now that one is aware of potential threats, it is prudent to take additional precautions to ensure the safety of your children.
Now that you have taken the time to educate yourself on the potential risks, it is important to put this information to use and have open dialogue with the children. Unfortunately, you can’t be with them 24/7 to protect them, but you can provide the guidance they need to keep them safe.
Following is an excerpt from the Family Watchdog which might be a good starting point.
“Avoid scary details. Keep information general. Explain the importance of avoiding dangerous situations, rather than trying to teach them to be safe from just the one person you know about.
• DONT accept a ride from a stranger.
• DONT go into the home or yard of a stranger.
• TELL your parents if a stranger offers you toys, money, gifts or candy.
• TRY to use the buddy system when children play outdoors.
• CALL 911 if your parents are not around and a stranger approaches you”
Protect Your Home
You can’t control everything that goes on in your community, but you can take additional measures to protect your children in your home. Today’s home security systems help you keep an eye on your kids and what is happening in your home.
How a Monitored Security System Can Help Keep an Eye on the Kids
Most people still think of them as “burglar alarms”. But, modern home security systems have a number of features that help you protect your children from harm.
- Chime- From an early age, curious toddlers want to explore and can scoot out the front door when the phone rings or while you are busy fixing lunch. Most security systems have a chime feature that announces when a door or window is opened. This can help you keep little ones from wandering out onto the street or venturing into the pool area unsupervised.
- Notifications- Want to know that your kids got home from school safely? An interactive app will notify you when your system is disarmed or when the kids arrive home. Didn’t get your alert by 3:30 PM? Perhaps it’s time to call their cell and find out where they are..
- Cameras- One can easily add wireless security cameras to the system. This will enable you to check and see who is at the door before opening it. Even better, you can keep an eye on what is happening from the office…and even receive a video clip on your phone when the kids get home.
- Panic Alert– A monitored home security system helps keep kids safe 24/7. In the event of an emergency, one can summon help at the push of a button. This activates the system. It will alert trained professionals of an “occupied panic” situation. The monitoring center will immediately notify the authorities. Systems equipped with “2-way voice” enable the monitoring center to listen in and take appropriate action.
Summary- Family Watchdog Sniffs Out Trouble
Family Watchdog is an outstanding resource that can help you better protect your family. It is a tool to increase awareness of potential threats in your area as well as educate you on steps you can take to ensure their safety and welfare. To locate sex offenders in your community-click on the link below.
If you are considering taking additional measures to help protect them in your home, we recommend that you check out our Top Rated Home security systems.
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