A new app, called OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood, alerts parents if a registered sex offender contacts their child. The app is the product of efforts by OffenderWatch and Louisiana state law enforcement officials.
Federal law requires registered sex offenders to provide law enforcement with their phone number, email and address. The app uses law enforcement’s database to alert parents if a registered sex offender contacts their child.
After a parent signs up online and downloads the app onto their and their child’s phone, the parent will be alerted if a registered sex offender contacts their child, or if the child spends time in the vicinity of a sex offender’s home. To do this, the app looks at the child’s emails, texts, Snapchat, phone logs, and GPS location.
Children are spending more time online and so are sexual predators looking for victims. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 20% of children received unwanted sexual solicitation online. The app’s creators hope to prevent the escalation from online contact to online grooming.
Currently, the app is only available in Louisiana, but OffenderWatch plans to partner with law enforcement in other states by the end of 2019. If your child is contacted by a registered sex offender, report it to your local police.
Learn more about the app by visiting www.offenderwatch.com/safe-virtual-neighborhood/. If you’d like to learn about other forms of sexual assault prevention, you can follow OffenderWatch’s non-profit branch, OffenderWatch Initiative on Facebook or online at offenderwatchinitiative.org. There you can download educational coloring pages, learn how to speak to your kids about sexual assault and look up the sex offenders in your neighborhood.