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iPhone Sex Offender Finder

pom-offender-locatorThe POM Offender Locator from Vision 20/20 lets you find out how close you are to registered sex offenders, no matter where you happen to be. It’s an iPhone app, meaning you can get real-time information on this subject while on the go.

I tried out a free version of the app. It gives me the willies.

Here is some of the sales pitch from govision2020.com. This part is listed under “Be Aware. Be Safe.”

- There are nearly 500,000 registered sex offenders in the US. There are tens of thousands who have yet to be discovered.
– Chances your child will have contact with a sexual predator : 1 in 3
– Over 2,000 missing children reported every day.
– Typical child sex offenders molests an average of 117 children

Well I’m glad that they’re not using scare tactics to hawk their wares.

Here’s a video explanation:

And these tidbits fall under the heading “How Does It Work?”

- Enter your address to locate Registered Offenders in the area.
– Click on one of the names in the left hand column and you’ll see full details and photos of the offenders and the offenses for which they were convicted!
– It’s as easy as that!
Now you can know where you’re safe.

The exclamation points creep me out. So does the idea that as long as you know where the sex offenders are, you and your children are “safe.” Maybe less likely to encounter a sex offender. But overall safety beyond that particular area is unaffected.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs. Clearly anyone who assaults a child is reprehensible. And the rate of recidivism is quite high. And the idea of finding out where they are isn’t a new one. SexOffender.com offers a variety of services aimed at making parents feel safer. At least I think that’s the idea, but the line “What’s your life worth, your baby?” from their homepage is enough to give me a chill.

The POM Offender Locator app is 99 cents, and is currently the third most popular app in Apple’s iTunes App Store. I tried the free version, which is “limited to 3 offenders.” Turns out there are at least two registered sex offenders not too far from me. I say “at least two” because one of the three listings I received was from somewhere really far away, which indicates to me that the database may be based on a keyword search rather than a location based one. (Note: that’s a guess.) Clicking on the offenders’ name gives you their address, photo, and a list of what they did. One guy was listed as “No Designation Applies”, which was slightly less scary sounding than the offenders whose listing contained specific charges such as “Actual,MoreThanOnce Sexual Intercourse.” A little less scary. But not much.

If you want to get a full list via this app, you need to pony up the 99 cents. This information is also available for free online at sites such as FamilyWatchdog.us. Using the search function at that particular site, I found a disturbingly large list of sex offenders nearby; the list was probably larger because it includes their work addresses. (Note: I do not have any way of knowing that the information on that site, or any of the others I link to in this post, is accurate.)

Obviously I don’t want anybody’s children to be attacked by a sex offender. But the whole time I was writing this post I felt sick to my stomach. Part of that is the topic. Child abuse is never a pleasant subject. I also wonder what someone could do with a mobile app that makes it easy to find sex offenders while walking around town. Not that I’m condoning the crimes of any sex offender, but that wouldn’t make it right for someone to take the law into their own hands. Will that happen? I don’t know. The database has been around for a long time, although this app does make it easier for people to access it.

What I do know is that after trying out this iPhone app I don’t feel safer. I feel nauseous.

Would you use this application? Have you ever searched for sex offenders in your area? Does “Knowledge = Safety”? Or something else?

Sources: webdoctus, govision2020.com

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