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Parents learn how to keep children safe from predators

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 09 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2013 04:38:47 AM CST

Pennsylvania State Police list more than 12,000 sex offenders living in the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania State Police list more than 12,000 sex offenders living in the commonwealth. Every 45 seconds someone in the US is sexually assaulted, and 93% of child victims know their attacker. Police in Montgomery County want to educate parents so they can keep their kids safe.

More than 60 parents came out to a program Wednesday night hosted by the Upper, Lower and West Pottsgrove police departments.

"With having a six-year-old now, it's good to come out to these so you can find out what is out there and what resources are available," said Debbie Conrad.

The topic was sex offenders in your community.

"There are a lot of myths out there about who sex offenders are, where sex offenders offend and how they offend," explained Rick Parsons, deputy chief of Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole.

Like most sex offenders have no criminal history, and 85% of offenses occur at the victim's or the offenders homes. The Montgomery County Sexual Assault Task Force gave the presentation so families will have accurate information. The hope is with these tools the number of victims can be reduced.

"What we really want to have them do is talk to their children about what is good touch, what is bad touch, what they should do if they feel uncomfortable," shared Parsons.

He says the best thing parents can do is be active and involved in their children's lives. That way they will notice red flags and can alert authorities. The crowd listened closely.

"They want to be educated, they want to learn the truth about what they can do and what they can't do," said Johnathan Spadt, president of the Board of Commissioners in Lower Pottsgrove Township.

Lower Pottsgrove Township passed an ordinance a few years ago that restricted where child sex offenders could live within the community.

"It didn't prevent them from moving into the township at all," added Spadt. "It limited them to certain distances from children's playgrounds, schools, daycares, that type of thing."

Last summer the State Supreme Court ruled a similar ordinance in Allegheny County was unconstitutional, and it was taken off the books locally. Now the goal is to arm the public with information so they're prepared.

"Sex offenders do unfortunately live in our community, but if we work together and we really communicate with our children we can actually have an impact in reducing sexual assaults," said Parsons.

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