Familywatchdog.us is a free service to help locate registered sex offenders in your area. No matter where you live, from modest to upscale neighborhood, it is safe to say that there are sex offenders nearby. After entering my home address, I pulled up a list of 22 registered sex offenders that live within a 5 mile radius of my neighborhood. Although this certainly did not thrill me to know that so many were so close, I would much rather be informed than unaware. In this arena, ignorance is certainly not bliss.
Sex offenders are everywhere and in every socioeconomic level. They are most often familiar faces but can also be the face of a “normal looking” stranger. Any tool that can help us parents stay informed and aware of sexual offenders that might harm our children is an invaluable one. I am signed up to receive email alerts based on my address, and I strongly encourage others to do the same.
Sexual offender information is now made public thanks to Megan’s Law, which is designed to provide information and notification to communities when potentially dangerous sex offenders move into the neighborhood. Although the manner of notification may vary from state to state, the result of Megan’s Law is that every state now attempts to track the residences of sex offenders and to provide that information to the public.
You can go to www.familywatchdog.us to sign up to receive email alerts any time a sex offender moves in or out of the area near you. Here is an overview of how the site works.
First, enter the address for which you want to do a search. In addition to entering your home, you might also want to search for information on specific schools, parks, playgrounds, or churches–anywhere that your children might play or spend time.
The address search will pull up a registered offender map like the one at left. You can click various tabs: map, list, recent address changes, or previously viewed offenders.
The map view will show your area with squares at every place an offender resides. The map legend (you must click it to pull it down) shows the color coding for the squares and what each color means.
The list view shows a list of all offenders within 5 miles of your selected area. This is the view that I prefer. Each offender’s name (in blue) can be clicked and detailed information given on him (i.e. address, distance from your area, convictions, photo).
Family Watchdog updates its site daily, and for some states, multiple times daily. When a change is made, the site updates in about 24 hours. The neighborhood maps are based on google maps and are updated approximately every six months.
There is a wealth of other helpful information that this site offers. If you want to be informed as to how to best use this free service, you can find everything you need to know here at frequently asked questions.