Friday, May 11, 2012
Ned Hibberd walks us into a dumb report magnet
Walking into a Sex Offender Magnet
Updated: Wednesday, 09 May 2012, 10:22 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 09 May 2012, 10:07 PM CDT
HOUSTON - Parks and playgrounds are a magnet for children, so you may be surprised at how many convicted sex offenders live around them.
Halbert Park, in the Heights, has 43 registered within one mile and 181 within two miles. Those numbers were a sinister surprise for Mary Hernandez, who brings her grandkids to Halbert all the time.
“Oh my God,” said Hernandez, when shown the map of sex offender residences - a database compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety. “I don't want to think. You never know who can snatch 'em or what.”
Grimes Park, in southeast Houston, is surrounded by 15 sex offenders within half a mile and 61 within one mile.
Castillo Park, in the East End, has 92 registered sex offenders living within a mile and 284 within two miles.
“I know everyone's always worried about strangers approaching children,” said attorney Sam Mukerji, “but more often than not it's already somebody that you know.”
In fact, more than 90-percent of children who are victimized will be targeted by someone in their inner circle.
So says Diane Vines, a therapist at the Children’s Assessment Center.
“The truth is: most sexual abuse occurs in the home, by people who should be protecting the children from the abuser. They are the abuser,” explained Vines, who counsels the young victims. “Step-parents, grandparents, relatives, people that the family trusts.”
And because those authority figures are trusted, they tend to get away with it.
Part of Mukerji’s law practice involves suing sexual predators. And he says most of them are not already on the DPS’s maps.
“I feel like they are able to – more so than other types of criminals - are able to get by without being noticed,” explained Mukerji. “They've done it multiple times before they're actually caught.”
And it is staggering how many children are sexually victimized, in one way or another, by the time they reach age 18.
According to Diane Vines’ statistics, up to 18-percent of boys and as many as 30-percent of girls have been raped, molested or exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior.
The younger they are when it happens, says Vines, the harder it is to heal.
“They can have flashbacks with the feeling and they don't know where it comes from,” said the therapist. “They start to feel crazy. And that's very hard to work with because they don't know why they're doing this, and they can't really process it. It is way worse with a much younger child.”