Mythbusting: Residency Restrictions Are a Game of ‘Let’s Pretend’ We’re Protecting Children

You see them at Judiciary Committee hearings, city council sessions, certain school board meetings and other similar gatherings.

They want to ban sex offenders from parks, from libraries, from schools . . . from just about ANYWHERE. They’re pretty self-righteous. They have these huge blind spots. And they really don’t know much about the researched facts on sexual offending.

Where they manage to prevail and these restrictions are enacted into law, they think they’ve made the children safe. And that is a shame, because laws that restrict where registered citizens can sleep and where they can go do not protect anyone.

The pitiable myth (MYTH #2) is that sex crimes are committed in public places.

FACT: Lisa Sample, Ph.D., the criminology expert at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, says the vast majority of sex crimes are committed in residential homes. The national Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers says, “The research that has been completed does not support the hypothesis that sex offenders living in closer proximity to places where children congregate are more likely to reoffend.”

So why are these restrictions on registered citizens so popular if they do not protect children or other victims?

It’s simple: They make people who push for the restrictions feel better, and they make politicians who vote for the restrictions happy. That the restrictions just don’t work as advertised makes little difference to these folk. Which leads us to ask the supporters of restrictions: Are you really concerned about public safety? Or do you prefer to go on pretending that you’re concerned?