CLEVELAND— There are more than 800,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. Before taking the kids trick-or-treating, many law enforcement officials suggest being aware of sex offenders in your area.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office provides a registry on its website, where you can search by name or address.
OffenderWatch, which helps in sex offender registry management, also recommends pointing out offenders’ houses in your neighborhood to your child and telling them the person who lives there has a criminal record.
“Tell your children to let you know if the sex offender tries to talk to them or lure them inside,” OffenderWatch said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also has a few safety precautions:
- Plan a trick-or-treating route in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets.
- Make sure children know your cellphone number, their home telephone number, and address in case you get separated.
- Consider giving them a cellphone so they can reach you easily.
- Teach children how to call 911 in an emergency.
- Teach children to say “No!” in a loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept anything other than a treat, or leave with them. Tell them to try everything they can to escape, including yelling, hitting, and kicking.
- Make sure older children take friends and stay together while trick-or-treating.
- Never send younger children out alone – they should be with a parent, guardian, or another trusted adult.
- Always walk younger children to the door to receive treats.
- Don’t let children enter a home unless you are with them.
- Be sure children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.