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Using Megan's Law technology to protect your kids

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 04 2014 05:00:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 04 2014 06:54:38 PM CDT

Megan's Law may be a parent's best defense in keeping kids safe from sexual predators.

Megan's Law may be a parent's best defense in keeping kids safe from sexual predators.

Convicted sexual predators are tracked and in Pa. their information is posted on the Megan's Law website letting the public know if a sex offender lives, works or goes to school nearby.

"You can search by the county you live in, the municipality you live in, the city, the zip code, the mile radius around your home," explained State Police Lieutenant Todd Hartman, commander for Megan's Law section.

Statewide there are 16,105 offenders listed on the Megan's Law website.

"I utilize it for just to see who lives in the area, what kind of neighbors I have," shared Brandy Young. "Sometimes I walk around the block or take the trash out and I just like to know who's in the area."

But there is no law in the commonwealth that restricts where these people can live.

"There could be some local municipalities and ordinances that restrict the location where they can live or work," added Hartman. "But there is not a state law to that effect."

Finding out if a registered sex offender lives near you, or close to your child's school is your responsibility. It's all listed on the Megan's Law website.

However, many people we spoke with say they don't check the site.

"Basically we know everybody that's in our neighborhood," Lisa Danner said. "So it's not very many strangers."

"I've been on the site, I just don't frequently use it because I feel comfortable and safe," Brian McGimpsey described. "And the neighborhood I live in I just don't worry about it to be honest with you."

State Police say folks should check the site frequently; knowledge is the best protection.

"If you know they're there, you better can take the measures to protect your child," Hartman shared. "That means constant vigilance, constantly supervising your child."

There is a way to get updates through email if a registered offender moves in, works or goes to school in a designated area.

On the Megan's Law website, click on the "Community Tools" tab and select "Email Notifications."

There you can sign up and then set up the criteria you are interested in.