One of the most disturbing trends of our time is the increase in sex offenses against our children.
A study by the US Department of Justice found
- 67% of all victims of sexual assault were juveniles, under 18 years old
- Thirty-four percent of the victims were younger than 12
- One of every seven was less than 6 years old
This is such a tragedy but at least parents are becoming more aware of the problem. They're taking steps to safeguard their children by keeping them from going out alone or from going anywhere unsupervised.
If you're a parent, now there's even more you can do to protect your children.
Your computer and the Internet can play a major part in helping you keep your children safe. If you're like most folks, you probably have at least some experience looking up information online, using Google or Yahoo search perhaps.
What you may not realize is how much information you can uncover online about sex offenders and other criminals who pose a threat to your family.
Specialized background checking services now exist that take you directly to criminal histories and sex offender records. While the common search engines are good for finding general information on a variety of topics, they're not so helpful when you want to search for criminal records. The specialized services make it a whole lot easier and faster.
I became familiar with these criminal background checking services from my work as a professional writer and researcher. If you're a parent trying to protect your children, you'll want to find out as much as you can about what's available.
It used to be time consuming and costly to check someone's background to see if they had a criminal history. You had to hire a private detective or go through some expensive reporting agency. Not today - not with Criminal record databases so readily available to us.
Sometimes referred to as Internet Detective sites, or Personal Search sites, these web-based search services give you the low-down on all kinds of formerly-hidden information.
They let you make complete criminal background checks and give you access to detailed information including:
The unfortunate truth is that many offenders commit crimes again and again. The DOJ tracked one sample group of around three hundred thousand offenders and discovered an amazing fact. This one group of felons has so far accounted for nearly five million arrest charges over their recorded careers.
Here are more disturbing findings from US Department of Justice studies:
- When criminals were arrested for a new crime, more than half of them were out on probation, parole or pretrial release for a previous crime.
- 39% of jail inmates had already served 3 or more prior sentences.
- Of the hundreds of thousands of criminals released from prisons during a one year period, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% resentenced to prison for a new crime.
And the most chilling statistics:
- Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison.
- Of released sex offenders and child molesters arrested for committing another sex crime, 40% perpetrated the new offense within a year or less from their prison discharge.
The criminal history you can easily find out there can forewarn you. You'll know if someone has a criminal background and is therefore likely commit a crime again. It's not pre-judging. It's just being realistic and practical.
Safety experts are starting to recommend that parents use a criminal background checking service regularly. By running a criminal background check on anyone you find suspicious or even anyone your child might come into contact with, you'll know if there's anything to worry about. You'll be armed with the knowledge you need to take appropriate action.
You can use the search services to check out your baby sitter, nanny, au pair, day care center and staff, and even school teachers and workers.
You can use it to search geographically and find out if known sex offenders live near you. It's now possible to determine exactly where they live.
To help you find the best possible service for criminal background checking, here are the things I've found important to consider during a review:
1. Free versus Paid
I've been disappointed by the free services. Better to pay the small fee and get quality information you can trust. Many of the better services have special offers of multi-year memberships for a low one-time fee. The cost can be less than what you'd pay for a low-priced blouse or golf shirt.
You want a service that responds quickly and gives you exactly the information you need. Make sure you try it out. Check both speed and accuracy!
3. Proprietary Database
If a service compiles their own database, it's a sign they're more likely to be in the business for the long term. That's because a proprietary database is costly to build and maintain. A company wouldn't invest if they didn't expect to stay in business.
From a usability standpoint, a dedicated database is better too. You get a single interface that you can quickly learn.
(One note: I've never seen a free service that has its own database. Most of the free services I've checked out are really just link farms - they just point you at some public or government database. You could get that from the general search engines.)
4. Training and Support
Be sure you can easily learn to use any service you choose. Actually, you'll find that the better services are pretty intuitive: you'll know what to do just by looking at it. But better services will also provide extra, in-depth searching. If you ever need the extra, it might require you dig into it a bit before you can fully use it. Just make sure your service has easy, accessible ways to learn, like tutorials.
And don't ignore support. Sooner or later you'll have questions or there will be something you need help to get resolved. The best services offer free, live support with a phone number or live chat where you can talk directly with a person.
It's a threatening world but fortunately, you can use modern technology to better protect your children. Like the experts recommend, sign up for Sex Offenders Background Checking Service and use it regularly.
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