Friday, April 25, 2008

There Are Such Things As Monsters

So yesterday I thought I was having a pretty good day. I dealt with very few idiots during my work day, which is always a bonus. The stock Uberman and I invested in was up, up, up. And I encountered very little traffic on my way to pick the boys up from school. So there I was, driving home, thinking about all the people I want to invite to be a part of the blogging In Crowd (thanks for the idea Poop and Boogies, you and the lovely Gigglepotamus are definitely IN), and little did I know my world was about to be ripped from beneath my feet.

There it was in my mailbox. Disguised as a piece of junk mail, a random flyer I may have mistaken for an advertisement, addressed only to Occupant. And then right before I was about to toss it in the recycle bin, the return address caught my eye. It was from my city. The city name in all caps and bold type. Then under that the words "Police Department." And then under that, in smaller font, not all caps and not bold type, almost like they were attempting a whisper . . . the words Sex Offender Notification Unit.

What. The. Eff??

I ripped open the stupid little circle sticker keeping the flimsy, tri-folded piece of paper closed (they might as well have sealed it with a Wal-Mart smiley face), and grasped onto my cold kitchen counter top as the words and wave of nausea engulfed me.

"The (insert city name here) Police Department is releasing the following information pursuant to blah blah blah the Community Notification on Sex Offenders Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to inform the public when the release of information will enhance public safety and protection.

"The individual who appears on this notification has been convicted of a sex offense which allows for community notification and requires registration with the (insert county name here) Sheriffs Department. He has served the sentence imposed on him by the courts and has advised the sheriffs department he will be living at the location listed. He is not wanted by the police department at this time." (Yeah, just like that in bold type.)

And then this piece of crap excuse for a notification goes on to tell me that it is not intended to increase fear and that "an informed public is a safer public." And then it has the audacity to let me know that it is a crime for anyone in the community to threaten, intimidate or harass sex offenders, and citizens who violate this law will be prosecuted. It does, however, politely and proactively provide me with two phone numbers: one to help me join or begin a neighborhood watch, and the other to report any current criminal activity on this or any other offender. Oh thank you (insert city name here)! Thank you so much!!

The middle portion of the paper included a color photo of this man, along with his full name, intended address and vital stats including make, model and color of vehicle. And under that a brief description of his convicted offense, which involved taking the worst possible advantage of an 8 year old female child and forcing her to do things I can't even bring myself to type.

I am a fairly open minded individual. And if anything, I am compassionate. Often to my own detriment. But I am also a mother. With a fierce primal instinct to protect her babies. I realize the guy has to live somewhere. But why here? Why my neighborhood? Mind you, he is not in my immediate subdivision, but he is within walking distance. The only barrier between us is a major street without a traffic signal and appropriate crosswalk. And that still makes him too close for my comfort.

We live in a nice community. A gated community even. Oooooh, whoop dee doo. Of course all that gives you is a false sense of security and higher HOA dues. But I do find a little comedy in the fact that God forbid I leave my trash can out over night or I have two weeds in my front yard, but a sex offender wants to move in? Oh pshaw, no problem! Are they going to be asking me to contribute to his "Welcome to the Neighborhood" muffin basket, too?

And I thought it was bad enough that our community is suffering from the recent epidemic of foreclosures. I would so much rather have negative equity in my home than a Level 2 Sex Offender living a football field away. To be honest, I would rather a renowned serial killer live right next door. Okay maybe not, but still. And I realize there are probably sick, twisted people living all around me that the police and I are totally unaware of. But this is confirmation of the monster hiding in the closet. This is no longer the bliss of ignorance.

I am angry. Angry that my children can not play out front in the street with their friends without me having a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Angry that we live in a world where I now have a reason to tell them they can't go run and play in the greenbelt two doors down. Or ride their bikes and scooters around the corner to their friend's house. Angry that I might have to tell them more than just don't talk to strangers. I might have to answer questions when I am not sure they are ready to know the answers. Angry that this man's house is between ours and their school. And that it is perfectly acceptable for him to live so close to a school.

I am not saying he should be living in your neighborhood, or anywhere but mine. I am just wondering why we can't find a place for these people, their own little society on some uninhabited island somewhere. Where there are no children and it will be easier for them to control their urges. An informed public is a safer public, my fat ass. In my opinion, a public without sex offenders living amongst them is a safer public. How 'bout that??

I have no intentions to threaten, intimidate or harass this man, if he is even worthy of being called that. I hope I never see him when I am grocery shopping or picking up the dry cleaning. I realize he has served his time and the state of Arizona considers him reformed. But what if he's not?? And I really want to know what they consider to be the appropriate amount of time for stealing the innocence of child? That child will never be the same. Why he should he be allowed to go about his life and live anywhere he pleases?

And the Christian inside me is saying all the things you are thinking about forgiveness and redemption, and still I am afraid. And sad that my little piece of Utopian suburbia is now tainted by a bad man (possibly reformed) in our midst.

And I may be opening myself up for a whole lot controversy, but I really want to know your opinions. How would you feel if it were your neighborhood? Why should this man serve 5 years (I have no idea how much time he served, I am just looking at statistics on sex offenders and this seems to be the average amount of time) and then get the privilege of going about his life, when this child is changed forever? If you see this differently, help me see it your way. Help me find peace in this situation.

I'm gonna go hug my babies.


Becky said...

Scarey to be the first comment on this topic, and I realize that it leaves me completely vulnerable, but here goes:

I am an ignorance is bliss kind of girl, however, I have always operated under the don't let my kids too far away from me mentality anyway. I pretend like everyone around me is a sex offender...because most probably they are.

When you think about the rate of sex offender convictions to actual is probably minimal.

There is no flag on the mans house which says that he has an internet (or other) porn addiction and at any minute he could snap and your child would be his first I am cautious and afraid of EVERYONE. I have even had my eyes open to not wanting to have "sleepovers" with kids friends that I don't know nor do I want them at the other people's house.

I trust no one.

My kids are getting chubby from all of the after school snacks and lack of bike and scooter riding because I live comfortably in the middle of paranoia.

Part of me has an ounce or two of compassion for convicted offenders because I realize how easy it would be for a girl to say someone did something to her that they didn't do...out of some wierd vindictiveness (I know it is probably rare) but I wonder how long we are supposed to punish the offender. Dude...I know if it were my kid, I would want the death penalty!

Christianity or not...I do believe that we should be OVERPROTECTIVE and never assume that it couldn't happen to our kids.

Call me a freak, but I want my kids to hate me for all of the right reasons when they grow up.

Sandra D said...

Becky introduced me to your blog and today will be the first time I post a comment:)
I have a Level 3 sex offender living FOUR DOORS down from my house. He has multiple convictions but has done his time...not enough time, if you ask me! I actually had to have a conversation with my children that I figured I would NEVER have to have. "See this picture of this man?" "If you EVER see him, I mean, EVER see him, you run like crazy children into this house IMMEDIATELY!!!" "But why, Mama?" "Because this man is a dangerous man and we want absolutely nothing to do with him." My children are 11, 7, 6, 3 and 1 (although she does little outside time~LOL)
This man has multiple convictions...and why on earth is he out of jail?! Did the KIDNAPPING and then RAPE of a young girl not count for anything?! And Level 3? The worst of the my neighborhood...

Bogart in P Towne said...

I don't have kids and don't know how I would feel...I have my ideas, but I am not a parent so I keep those to myself.

The Christian part is an interesting issue...There is a forgiveness that we are called to...a compassion for lost people...a heart for the unlovable. You can still do that...but I am pretty sure that I am not to offer beer to the recovering alcoholic or put children into the hands of the sex offender.

If I were doing the pastoral council here I would say something to the effect of not hating him, but pray for him. That is a great example for your kids. But also to show them his picture...make sure they know who he is and to keep far run if he comes not hesitate to tell someone if you see him around other kids...etc.

Brenda said...

Fear is an evil beast. I am telling you if it isn't the sex is anything and everything that i cannot control. I can become trapped with fear when it comes to my children. Not just sorta trapped but physically ill with worry. My latest newest fear is allowing my oldest to get his drivers permit!! Oh my....!
I looked up the sex offenders in my area and it is shocking how many there are. I couldn't very well make flash cards with all their names and faces. Instead I have had to pray more. Submit more...release my kids more to the Father that loves them more then I do. It is scary and I am so with you, sister. All we can do is trust our children to HIS protection. I feel your pain.

aschmoel said...

I am right there with Becky! Unfortunately Ryan is 8 years older than his sister, so he rarely gets to go outside our front door by himself unless his cousins are over and we are standing outside talking to our neighbors. Letting him out of my sight actually makes my stomach hurt. When we bought our house I actually went to the sex offender website and found more offenders living in the neighborhood I was moving out of..I figured...whew...nicer neighborhood, more safety...until I went to my mailbox for the first time and found the exact same notice. This guy STILL lives and the end of my street, where Ryan has to ride his bike, where we have to walk to get to the park, just too close for my comfort...

I agree that we have to put our faith in God that He will watch over us and protect our innocent babies and feel freakishly selfish when we thank Him it isn't us anytime we hear about another innocent child on the news.

You are already on my prayer list my friend so all I can say is I am right there with you, missing my ignorance is bliss bubble.