Parents Unaware As Sex Offenders Blanket Neighborhoods & Communities Around Schools and Day Care Centers
HOUSTON– Houston has a real problem lurking in and plaguing its neighborhoods – the proliferation of sexual predators living in every neighborhood and near schools, day cares and playgrounds.
“This is my fight!” said Sonia Parker, founder of Parents Against Predators (P.A.P.). a 501(c) non-profit organization. “Before I leave this earth, P.A.P. will be known worldwide. I will not stop fighting to end child abuse. I will not stop fighting until we have tougher laws that will keep predators behind bars.”
She has teamed up with renown Houston Rapper Paul Wall to raise awareness about the dangers children face living and playing in neighborhoods amongst the ticking time bombs that are sex predators and convicted sex offenders.
Since 2010, Wall has been involved with working to inform communities about the dangers of sexual predators filling up and living in neighborhoods around Houston. The award winning rapper also has even volunteered in youth programs and on numerous USO tours to help members of the Armed Forces since 2006.
Wall said every parent should be concerned because of the behavioral unpredictability of these offenders and fear for the safety of their children because of the lack of monitoring and uncertainty of the attack on a child chosen at random.
He would even like to see legislators address the problem in Austin by stepping up and clamping down on sex offenders by filing legislation that puts better identification and monitoring systems in place before another child is harmed.
According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 98 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault.
Of those victims, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse.
A graphic listing of Houston neighborhoods on the Family Watchdog website at www.familywatchdog.us/showmap.asp .
Shocking Statistics on Houston Neighborhood Offenders
According to a state database shows there are 7,597 registered Sex Offenders in Harris County, TX, a ratio of 17.86 Sex Offenders per 10,000 residents. Of those, 6,514 registered sex offenders are living in Houston as of March 12, 2017.
This is higher than the national average of 15.47 Sex Offenders per 10,000 residents. Adding to concerns is the statistics that indicate there are about 28,903 offenders whose location is unknown in Texas due to the sex offenders being transient or their address not being mappable.
The overall ratio of number of residents in Houston to the number of sex offenders is 332 to 1.
“This is an issues that is near and dear to my heart.” said Paul Wall. “It upsets me that so many of the offenders live in neighborhoods around the homes and schools of these children.”
Wall says every child walking the streets on a daily basis in these neighborhoods are either at high risk of attack or in imminent danger of being raped or assaulted at some point.
“This is a quiet crisis building and going on that no one is addressing,” he laments. “It won’t take long for it to become an epidemic in our city. Right now, it’s the hidden underbelly that no one wants talks about openly.”
The predator map showing where predators live is a sobering reminder and truly demonstrates just how dangerous the streets are for children and the threat sex offenders pose in neighborhoods, especially near elementary, middle and high schools and daycare centers.
“We want parents to be aware of the mine fields their kids walk through each day within their own neighborhoods,” Wall said. “Our kids are at high risk and in very real danger. I want to sound the alarm that wakes parents up to the serious threats on our streets and currently living among us in our neighborhoods.”
Sexual violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Key Information on Child Predator Attacks
Reports give insights into how and where the attacks are prevalent and what the survivor was doing when the crime occured?
Of the children attacked:
48% were sleeping, or performing another activity at home
29% were traveling to and from work or school, or traveling to shop or run errands
12% were working
7% were attending school
5% were doing an unknown or other activity
A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18, 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are age 12-17.
Houston is also a known crossroad for sex and human trafficking.
Wall, who is now a father, is seeking to raise awareness and spark a movement he hopes with result in better oversight, monitoring and actions that protect children.
“Abuse impacts a child’s life forever and no child should have to go through it,” Wall said. “I want to stop the abuse of children and I want every parent to take this serious and stand with me in the fight to do something about sexual predators taking over neighborhoods.”
Weekly Neighborhood Monitoring
Working with Parker and P.A.P., Wall and the group voluntarily travel weekly from neighborhood to neighborhood in various zip codes across Houston to monitor activities of sexual predators and check on the safety of children in those neighborhoods.
Parker was a young lady whose life was forever changed after she experienced all three forms of trauma at an early age – physical, sexual and psychological.
She was the victim of sexual abuse at an early age. From age 11 to 13, Parker was sexually assaulted, but never spoke about it until 2009, when she started her non-profit organization when she turned 43.
After her experience with childhood abuse, Parker made a commitment to work hard to end the suffering of abused and neglected children in the community at the hands of any physical, sexual and psychological abusers.
“Our number one goal is the safety of these children,” Parker said. “Parents need to know that the movements and activities of these offenders travels under radar and is mostly unchecked. We make sure people are in compliance and not bothering the children.”
She said some of the offenders are frequent visitors, loiter and hang out near schools and city parks in low income communities.
“This is something we have brought to authorities attention, but there is always an excuse for why more is not being done,” she said. “That is why we are calling on the parents in these communities to call for action to protect their children.”
Wall agreed. “These (sex) predators have a disease that’s not being treated seriously while our children are walking around our neighborhoods and they are like innocent birds in a shooting gallery.”
How To Protect Your Child
RAINN offers some key pointers to protecting children from sexual predators.
– Be Involved in the Child’s Life.
– Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right.
If you see or hear something that causes concern, you can take action to protect your child.
Show interest in their day-to-day lives. Ask them what they did during the day and who they did it with. Who did they sit with at lunchtime? What games did they play after school? Did they enjoy themselves?
Get to know the people in your child’s life. Know who your child is spending time with, including other children and adults. Ask your child about the kids they go to school with, the parents of their friends, and other people they may encounter, such as teammates or coaches. Talk about these people openly and ask questions so that your child can feel comfortable doing the same.
Choose caregivers carefully. Whether it’s a babysitter, a new school, or an afterschool activity, be diligent about screening caregivers for your child.
Know the warning signs. Become familiar with the warning signs of child sexual abuse, and notice any changes with your child, no matter how small. Whether it’s happening to your child or a child you know, you have the potential to make a big difference in that person’s life by stepping in.
Encourage Children to Speak Up.
When someone knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something isn’t right. You can start having these conversations with your children as soon as they begin using words to talk about feelings or emotions. Don’t worry if you haven’t started conversations around these topics with your child—it is never too late.
Teach your child about boundaries. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable — this includes hugs from grandparents or even tickling from mom or dad. It is important to let your child know that their body is their own. Just as importantly, remind your child that they do not have the right to touch someone else if that person does not want to be touched.
Teach your child how to talk about their bodies. From an early age, teach your child the names of their body parts. Teaching a child these words gives them the ability to come to you when something is wrong. Learn more about talking to children about sexual assault.
Be available. Set time aside to spend with your child where they have your undivided attention. Let your child know that they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If they do come to you with questions or concerns, follow through on your word and make the time to talk.
Let them know they won’t get in trouble. Many perpetrators use secret-keeping or threats as a way of keeping children quiet about abuse. Remind your child frequently that they will not get in trouble for talking to you, no matter what they need to say. When they do come to you, follow through on this promise and avoid punishing them for speaking up.
Give them the chance to raise new topics. Sometimes asking direct questions like, “Did you have fun?” and “Was it a good time?” won’t give you the answers you need. Give your child a chance to bring up their own concerns or ideas by asking open-ended questions like “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?”
According to Wall and Parker, P.A.P. offers different services such as attending court appearances with the parents of victims of child abuse.
In addition to that, P.A.P. provides necessary school supplies for low-income and needy families; provides qualified volunteers to assist parents with the appropriate training they need to deal with their kids and others; partners with physicians who are committed to help bring about change in the family home for anger resolutions; has a volunteer service program that allows individuals to come on board to assist P.A.P. in accomplishing its goals; and provides a service to support parents to keep them involved and motivated with ongoing activities and projects.
Both work with various department stores to make sure children in various communities have new clothes and shoes.
Her organization also hosts Christmas parties, Easter events, Back to School drives, Balloon Releases for victims of Child Abuse and missing murdered children, summertime Stranger Danger fun days in the park; and P.A.P. has also donated money towards the funeral expenses of murdered children
“It is everyone’s responsibility to watch out for children in these neighborhoods and to report any suspected child abuse,” she said. “I will continue talking to parents and children all over the world and to let them know that it’s okay to speak out. I will keep on fighting for all victims and hope we can prevent the next victim from this pain and suffering. I pray that many more will join me in this fight.”
Making the Report
In Texas, anyone can make a report in two ways – by phone or over the Internet.
To make an anonymous report, you must call the state hotline at 1.800.252.5400. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also file an online report at www.txabusehotline.org.
To find out more about Sonia Parker and her organization, Parents Against Predators (PAP), please visit their website at www.protectchild1.org.
By: Darwin Campbell