Posts Tagged ‘Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Law’

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

Randy Stonehill and Phil Keaggy recorded a song called “Who Will Save The Children” for Compassion International, a Christian charity dedicated to helping children in poverty. But it could very well be a song for abused children. 

Today the world is facing many problems. High unemployment, poverty, homelessness, illegal immigration, racial unrest, gun violence and threats of terrorism—just to name a few.

And yet one of our most tragic problems that has spread world-wide barely gets a bi-line in the news—sexual child abuse.

There have been plenty of reports about the sex trafficking trade and the efforts that some law enforcement agencies have taken to combat this crime. We will even hear reports on how famous pedophiles like Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, are being arrested and prosecuted for their heinous crimes against children.

But it seems that nothing is being done to stop pedophiles who sexually abuse children in their own homes!  Most victims know and trust their abusers. It isn’t strangers our children have to fear most—It’s those who live in their own home!

Children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner are 20-30 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents. Studies show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. That means that there will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused (Many in their own homes) before they turn 18, if we do not prevent it!

In it’s most recent study, the CDC estimated the lifetime cost to society for dealing with all issues related to child abuse of just one year’s worth of traumatized kids is $585 billion! An astonishing figure that obviously repeats each year!

One of the reasons that the public is not sufficiently aware of child sexual abuse as a problem is that 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. And some never disclose their abuse.

Another reason is that many people rely on the court system and law enforcement alone to take steps to protect children from child predators who would do harm to our children.

But the Nebraska Legislature finds that sex offenders present a high risk to commit repeat offenses. They further find that efforts of law enforcement agencies to protect their communities, conduct investigations, and quickly apprehend sex offenders are impaired by the lack of available information about individuals who have pleaded guilty to or have been found guilty of sex offenses and who live, work, or attend school in their jurisdiction. (nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes/ 29-4001.01 – 4003) http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=29-4001.01

In spite of this, many judges continue to issue light sentences and probation to child sex offenders. And many people believe that once a sex offender is convicted, he or she is restricted on where they can live and travel.

It may surprise many to know that in many states the only restriction imposed on a convicted pedophile is that he or she register as a sex offender at the sheriff’s office within the required time. (Usually within 72 hours)

That means that someone convicted of sexual child abuse may freely visit schools, public parks, children museums, public swimming pools and beaches—basically anywhere that children frequent.

From the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry website:

ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS REGARDING SEX OFFENDERS?

The Nebraska Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders.  This is a common misperception.  The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons.  The SOR law can only mandate the offender to register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

IS THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS AS TO WHERE A SEX OFFENDER CAN LIVE?

Nebraska legislation simply enacted guidelines in July 2006 for those cities who wish to adopt a living restriction ordinance. It is not a state-wide law. Therefore, it only applies to those cities or designated entities that pass such an ordinance which only applies to schools and day cares; furthermore, it will be up to the local agencies to enforce the restrictions if adopted. The city ordinance only applies to sexual predators that moved to the reported address after July 2006. Sexual predator means an individual who is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration act, who has committed an aggravated offense and who has victimized a person eighteen years of age or younger. The Nebraska State Patrol does not track which cities choose to enact or enforce the ordinance. Please contact the local city office, police department or sheriff’s office of the city in question. https://sor.nebraska.gov/FAQ

I experienced the pain and anguish of this crime personally when my granddaughter was sexually molested by her step-father several years ago. After two years of attending hearing after hearing in court, the judge only sentenced him to two years probation. Less than ten days later he was arrested again on charges of physically abusing another child still living in the home! The remaining children were placed in foster care and the father is currently serving a year in the county jail. Because Nebraska has no Grandparents Rights Law, we have not been able to visit our grandchildren in foster care.

I wrote to 18 Nebraska senators about this and out of the 18, only Senator John McCollister responded to me. We recently met for coffee to discuss my concerns about this. He is planning on setting up a meeting with me, himself and another senator to see if we can come up with a solution that will allow grandparents visitation rights to grandchildren in foster care and protect children without violating the perpetrators’ civil rights.

Protecting our future

We have all heard politicians and others quote that “children are our future”. If that is true, (And I believe it is) then why are we so bent on destroying our own future? Adult survivors continue to deal with physical symptoms of sexual child abuse even when the abuse occurred long ago.

A 2001 study supported by the CDC showed that early childhood abuse could affect areas of the brain that impact language, cognitive and emotional development and mental health. This could result in hyperactivity and sleep problems. Another CDC study revealed that the risk of adult chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease and high cholesterol is increased.

When a child is abused, emotional and psychological trauma can result. A long-term study by the CDC found that, “As many as 80 percent of young adults who had been abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at age 21.” These disorders include anxiety, depression, eating disorders and suicide attempts. Child abuse victims may also suffer from learning, attention and memory problems. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another common problem for child abuse survivors, resulting in constant frightening memories and thoughts, feeling emotionally detached or numb and sleep problems.

Adults who suffered abuse often turn to drug or alcohol abuse. A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that, “as many as 2/3 of people in drug treatment programs report being abused as children.” Additionally, some adult survivors turn to lying, stealing or other illegal criminal behavior and end up arrested and incarcerated.

Things you can do to protect your children:

  • Talk to your child about the dangers of sexual abuse. And talking about personal safety should be an on-going dialogue, not just a single event.
  • Teach your children appropriate names for their body parts.
  • Use everyday situations to keep the conversations about personal safety ongoing.
  • Set the rules about internet safety and your values early on.
  • Learn about the websites your children use regularly and limit how much time they spend online.
  • Visit websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other sites your child visits.
  • Teach your children that they should not seek relationships with online friends and that they should never meet online friends in the real world. If you think that your child is smarter than that, think again. Many teens and pre-teens get involved in online relationships only to find out later that the “other teenager” is actually a middle aged pedophile. So make sure that your child has a support system in the real world.

Above all, build trust between you and your child so they know that they can talk to you about anything.

Think about this: I once attended a dedication ceremony of a friend who just had a baby. As the father was holding the baby in his arms, the pastor asked him, “Who are you to this child?” The father replied proudly, “I’m his father.” “No.” the paster answered. “You are God.” As the father gave the pastor a confused look, he continued, “You are the only God this child will know. So as far as he knows, you ARE God. And it is up to you to teach him all he will know about God.”

If we may be the only God that a child will know and that child experiences abuse from us or another adult, what will that child think  about God? What will his impression be of God?

Collin Raye – 11th Commandment 

About 40 million children worldwide suffer abuse every year, with more than 1,500 children dying of abuse in the United States annually.

Often the adults who are designed to protect children refuse to take action because they don’t want to get involved or because the perpetrator is a family member and they fear that doing so will split up the family unit.

Even when a perpetrator of sexual child abuse is convicted, they are often only given probation and required to register as a sex offender for no more than 15 years.

Currently, the Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Law (SOR) does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

It is left up to the judges discretion to prevent an offender from attending certain events or restricting an offender from entering certain facilities where vulnerable children are present. But more often judges will only restrict an offender from living near a daycare center and refrain from using drugs and alcohol. Some offenders are even allowed to live with their own children who are also at risk of being abused.

The greatest myth about the SOR law

I started a petition at https://www.change.org/p/pete-ricketts-change-nebraska-sex-offender-registration-law  to change the SOR law in Nebraska. Sadly, very few people have signed it.

Many opponents of the SOR law claim that the law unfairly targets those who urinate in public as sex offenders. This is one of the biggest sex offender myths propagated by registry opponents. There are only 13 states that could possibly have convicted people of being a sex offender for urinating in public. However, these states do have laws against exposing one’s genitalia to the view of a minor or another person who may be offended. So If you are peeing into a bush and no one can see your genitalia, there is no crime and no requirement for registration. There is not a single state that requires registration for urinating in public. Even if those convicted of urinating in public were charged as sex offenders, this would only account for less than 0.1% of all offenders.

America’s long history of child abuse

Laws regarding “cruelty” were first created for the humane treatment of animals on February 8, 1866. It was not until many years later that children were granted that same consideration. (http://www.childenrichment.org/education/child-abuse-history)

Child labors laws were enacted in 1906, but did not provide protection from other forms of child abuse. Without laws specific to child maltreatment, severely abused children would fall under the animal welfare laws as a member of the animal kingdom. It was not until the 1968, after the book “The Battered Child” was published (authors Dr. C. Henry Kempe and Ray E. Helfer), did Americans acknowledge that parents and caregivers truly could and did physically harm their children.

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” (Luke 18:16)

Most of us, when threatened or attacked, will contact law enforcement and report it as a crime. But children often won’t tell you straight out that something has happened to them, because either they’ve been threatened, or they may feel ashamed and they may not feel comfortable talking to you about it. So it’s up to adults to watch for the signs of abuse and act on behalf of the child.

Because no child should have to suffer abuse in silence.

Child abuse has been defined as an act, or failure to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker that results in serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child, or death. (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g)

Child abuse laws have raised difficult issues, pitting the rights of children against the rights of families and parents. The mistreatment of children at the hands of parents or caretakers has a long history of a system that gives children few, if any, rights.

About 40 million children worldwide suffer abuse every year, with more than 1,500 children dying of abuse in the United States annually and affects all educational and socioeconomic levels, ethnicities, cultures, and religions.

Many other important statistics regarding this problem in the United States include that it costs society more than $120 billion per year and that with more than 3 million referrals to state and local agencies every year, an average of six such referrals occur every 60 seconds!

Survivors of child abuse are at greater risk for physical, emotional, work, and relationship problems throughout childhood and into adulthood. Common forms of child abuse include neglect, physical assault and emotional abuse. But the most disturbing abuse is the sexual assault of a child.

It is important to understand that child abuse, whether physical, sexual or emotional, is not always immediately visible. Which is why when a child reports the abuse, often they are not believed. Victims of child abuse may experience so much stress in reaction to the abuse that it often leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD)

Often the adults who are designed to protect children refuse to take action because the perpetrator is a family member and they fear that doing so will split up the family unit. (And often does) Many times family members will support the perpetrator and accuse the victim of filing a false report, which causes even more stress for the victim.

Currently, the Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Law (SOR) does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. It does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restricting an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’’s office within the required time. Even when a perpetrator of sexual child abuse is convicted, they are often only given probation and required to register as a sex offender for no more than 15 years. That means that someone who has been convicted of child sexual assault is able to freely visit playgrounds, children museums, schools and other places where they have access to vulnerable children while on probation.

I have written Governor Pete Ricketts about changing the Nebraska Sex Registry Law so that more restrictions can be placed on sex offenders so that they are not allowed to freely interact with vulnerable children who are now at risk from them.

The Governor wrote me back telling me that a senator needed to bring this issue up in the legislation before he can do anything. So I wrote letters to many Nebraska senators about this issue. So far, I have not heard from any of them.

Our world has changed

When I grew up, the typical family was still a working dad, a stay-at-home mom, and other kids in the neighborhood with the same type of families. Today, the divorce rate is almost 50 percent, and children living with a single parent or in a blended family have become all too common. This creates a whole new environment of risk for children.

Did you know that a child with a biological mother who is living with a man who is not the child’s father is 33 times more likely to suffer abuse. (Source: Dreamcatchers for Abused Children)

I know a girl who was physically and emotionally abused by her stepfather for over 10 years before he sexually molested her. Once the abuse was reported, it still took the court system over two years to finally convict the man. Even then, he was allowed to plead guilty to third degree sexual assault, (a misdemeanor) rather than sexual assault of a child. (a felony) The judge only sentenced him two years probation! What makes matters worse is that the victims’s mother maintains that her daughter made the whole thing up.

Less than two weeks after being released on probation this same man was arrested again for child abuse against another daughter still living in the home! Now he faces  charges for child abuse in one county and probation violation in another county.

No parent wants to believe that one of their own family members or a spouse would be capable of sexually molesting their child, but if a child comes to you complaining of inappropriate behavior of someone you know, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. This problem will NOT go away on its own, and if the perpetrator is not confronted, it will only get worse.

What can we do to help?

Children often won’t tell you straight up that something is happening to them, because they’ve been threatened, they may be ashamed, or they may not feel comfortable talking to you about it. So it is up to adults to watch for the signs of abuse and act on behalf of the child.

Watch & Listen!

You may be surprised at what you can learn by observing a child during playtime.  It’s why so many therapist use “Play Therapy” when dealing with younger children. There are also possible physical and behavioral indicators of child sexual abuse, some of which are:

  • Unusual  or inappropriate interaction between a child & a specific person.
  • Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members and friends.
  • Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems.
  • Showing unusual fear or a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person.
  • Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets.
  • Engaging in self-mutilations, such as cutting themselves.
  • Wearing an unusual amount of layers of clothing.

For more information and help contact:

Project Harmony

11949 Q Street / Omaha, NE 68137

402) 595-1326

http://www.projectharmony.com

Childhelp USA’s National Child Abuse Hotline

1-800-422-4453

(1-800-4ACHILD)

http://www.childhelp.org/

National Domestic Violence/Abuse Hotline

1-800-799-7233

(1-800-799-SAFE)

1-800-787-3224 TTY

http://www.thehotline.org/

 

Because no child should have to suffer abuse in silence.