As of June, there are now 716,750 registered sex offenders in this country. What alarms me is that number is up nearly 72,000 over the past two years–we’re adding about 3,000 people to the sex offender registries each month.
And those numbers don’t take into account the many more offenders who have yet to be caught and convicted.
I know I’ve written about this issue before, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for administrators and teachers to do all we can to keep these predators away from our campuses and any chance of contact with our students.
Sex offenders are often patient, looking for just the right opportunity to approach a child. They will stay across the street from the main school entry or bus stop trying to pick out the one child that is often alone, without a lot of friends or parents as they arrive at or leave school daily.
Instruct your staff to routinely stand outside each day as the children arrive and leave and look for lone adults that appear frequently, yet are never seen with a child. If you see such a person, call the police and report your suspicions. Trained officers will know how to handle the situation.
Also, consider having one of your campus security cameras pointed in the direction of the arrival/dismissal areas. Recorded video may help police to identify an offender and prove that he has been stalking the campus. Most offenders are required to maintain a distance from schools, parks, and other areas where children congregate.
Encourage parents to alternate walking neighborhood kids to and from school each day. Offenders are generally cowards and won’t strike when there is an adult present.
Make it obvious that your school is very protective of its students and the offenders will go elsewhere.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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