Child Molesters Released in Your Town
by Pattie Fitzgerald
Something major happened 8 years ago… I became… A MOTHER!! And there went my carefree, laissez-faire attitude about life -- right out the window, as we ushered in this beautiful little creature who I was sure was made entirely out of glass. Talk about worry! I became the Mother of all Worriers.
Was she eating enough, sleeping enough, pooping enough?? And my biggest worry of all… how could I keep her safe in this big, scary world?
I don’t know how we ever made it out the door to a “Mommy and Me” class! I worried about everything.
Then 3 years later something major happened again. We moved -- from big, bad Los Angeles to a sunny little hamlet in Long Island, New York where it felt safe and comforting. Everyone had white picket fences, and smiled at me when I went to the supermarket.
“Aaahh”, I thought. “I can stop worrying now.”
Well, no sooner than you could say “Yeah, right!” something major happened again.
Two months later, we received notification from the local law enforcement agency, informing us that a Level 3 Registered Sex Offender had recently been released into our community.
What?!” I stammered. Nothing bad is supposed to happen here. This is Small Town, USA for goodness sake!!”
Now in addition to being worried, I was boiling mad, too! I had just packed up our entire family and moved across country where I thought we could live worry-free. Now what??
And then, yep – something major happened again. I learned that the advocacy agency, Parents For Megan’s Law was headquartered nearby in Stony Brook, NY.
I called them immediately and talked to the sympathetic Assistant Director, who calmed my fears and gave me a crash course over the phone about how to protect my daughter.
I learned that 90 percent of childhood molestation occurs by someone the child knows, not by a stranger. I learned that although the “stranger-danger” concept has its merits, it really doesn’t protect kids from potential predators. I learned about the vast differences in Megan’s Law from state to state.
I also learned that I needed to teach my daughter very specific skills and boundaries, because there are plenty of offenders who simply haven’t been caught and convicted, and therefore not listed on any registry.
I learned about the myths that unsuspecting parents fall prey to. I learned about the tricks that predators often use and potential red flags.
Whew! That was a lot in one phone conversation but when we hung up, I felt better. Because now I had information AND some very specific skills to teach my daughter. And… (insert drum roll here please), I was able to stop worrying – well, at least a little bit anyway.
And then once again, something major happened. Shortly after my initial phone call to P.F.M.L., I learned that they were seeking a Community Outreach Educator: to go to schools, parent groups, etc. and teach what I had just learned.
To make a long story short, I got the job!!
After some intensive training, I traveled all across Long Island, talking to parents just like me – parents who needed answers and solutions.
The best part was (and still is) that I am able to teach these skills without instilling fear.
Well, after three years (and 3 cold NY winters), we moved back to Los Angeles, and SAFELY EVER AFTER, INC. was born. Nowadays, when parents approach me after a presentation it’s often to remark not only about how much they learned, but more importantly, how they can now stop WORRYING and take action, instead of simply wondering how to keep their kids safe.
So… the moral of the story: It’s okay to worry a little bit, because sometimes it means we seek answers and take action. But excessive worry can be futile. In fact, it keeps us stewing in our own juices, if we stop there. So go ahead and worry if you must, but educate yourselves and your children.
Let KNOWLEDGE turn you from a Worrier into a Warrior.
Someone who often tries to arrange “alone time” with your child, excluding you.
Someone who frequently volunteers to care for your child, giving you a “breather”, and often doesn’t want any kind of payment.
Someone who seems obsessed or preoccupied with your child.
Someone who makes inappropriate comments about your child looks or body.
Someone who insists on being physical with your child (hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling) even when the child doesn’t want this attention.
Someone who has little or no boundaries and doesn’t respect the boundaries of others.
For more information, or to book your own workshop, call 310-203-1330.