Home Advice & How-ToSafety Are There Sex Offenders in Your Area? How to Get The Information You Need
Home Advice & How-ToSafety Are There Sex Offenders in Your Area? How to Get The Information You Need

Are There Sex Offenders in Your Area? How to Get The Information You Need

by Jake Wengroff

Whether you’re trying to gauge if a neighborhood you want to move into is safe or looking to protect your children in your current neighborhood, knowing if there are sex offenders in your immediate area is important.

One in every 10 children has experienced abuse or will experience abuse by the time they are 18.   Further, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that there were 904,011 registered offenders in the U.S as of July 2017.

There are several ways to find sex offenders in your neighborhood, including using tools like online sex offender registries and online public record databases like Spokeo that can provide you with the critical information you need.

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The National Sex Offender Public Website

The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is the only U.S. government website that links all public state, territorial and tribal sex offender registries into one national search site.

While NSOPW presents the most up-to-date information as provided by each jurisdiction, information is hosted by each jurisdiction, not by NSOPW.gov or the federal government.  As such, the criteria available for searches are limited to what each individual jurisdiction may provide.

For further verification, search results should be cross-referenced by visiting the individual jurisdiction’s public registry website for further information and/or guidance.

Sex offenders must periodically report in person to their local law enforcement agency and furnish their address.  Other information may be collected, such as place of employment and email address, as well as  photographs and fingerprints.  The registration period and data collected depends on the classification level and the laws of that governing jurisdiction.

Other Websites and Databases

The data contained in the NSOPW and individual jurisdiction registries varies due to laws and administrative capabilities.  As such, the available data may not be enough for some consumers, communities or small businesses.

Those who seek more information can benefit from a service like Spokeo that aggregates data from dozens of sources that government websites cannot harness.

Social media accounts and activity of sex offenders are perhaps even more important information nowadays than public registry data.  The residential address of a sex offender is important to determining whether the sex offender lives just down the street or at a greater distance, still within one’s own neighborhood.  However, bear in mind that crime and malicious activity frequently take place online.   As kids spend more time on the Internet, especially amid COVID-related stay-at-home orders, online child sex abuse reports have surged.

Spokeo includes information on social media accounts, in addition to contact info, location history, photos, family members, court records (for an additional fee), work information, and much more.  Individuals use Spokeo as a single source with which to conduct online background checks.

What Can You Do With This Information?

Parents and other concerned individuals can use Spokeo’s people search tool in conjunction with government registries to identify location information on sex offenders living and working, not only in their own neighborhoods, but in other nearby states and communities.  This can help you determine if the neighborhood you’re considering  moving to is as safe as it seems, if your child’s interactions on social media are with their peers, if the online connection you’re looking to meet in real life is accurately representing themself and much more.    

Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services.  A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, Jake covers such topics as security, mobility, e-commerce, and IoT.