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Riverside Officials Consider Fear-Based Regulation That Would Prohibit Sex Offenders From Hanging Halloween Decorations

Photo by lobo235 via Flickr
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Gear up the parental fear machine, it's Halloween!

Adding to a long list of regulations that deliberately ignore the uncomfortable fact that most children are sexually abused by people that they already know, Riverside County is considering a rule that would prohibit registered sex offenders from hanging Halloween decorations on October 31, would require them to leave their outside lights off from 5:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m., and would ban them from answering the door that evening.

According to NBC Los Angeles, the proposal would build on last year's anti-loitering ordinance that keeps sex offenders from being within 300 feet of places like parks, libraries and swimming pools.

So, is it just me, or is this getting ridiculous? As a community, we have a collective goal of preventing child sexual abuse. And that's exactly why we need to get our heads out of our asses when it comes to regulations like this. They perpetuate the (albeit terrifying) myth that every time a child steps out of the house, they are going to be viciously attacked, and so create a justification for rules that further alienate sex offenders when many experts agree that alienation is a driving factor in committing abuse.

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According to a report released in 1997 by the Department of Justice, preventing recidivism among sex offenders is admittedly a difficult task. But that same report suggests that much of the legislation we pass on this issue relies (and I paraphrase) on paranoia that's whipped up by people looking to keep their elected positions, rather than actual research. Call me crazy, but that doesn't seem like the right approach.

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