(KWTX) As the new school year starts in Central Texas, police say parents should check to see where registered sex offenders live in local neighborhoods in order to protect themselves and their children.
Waco police Sgt. Patrick W. Swanton says it’s good to be a “nosy Nelly” when it comes to protecting your children and yourself from offenders.
Swanton recommends that parents search the Texas Sex Offenders Website to find out where sex offenders live near their homes or children’s schools.
Sex offenders under state law may not live within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, but they may live in neighborhoods surrounding schools through which children may pass daily.
In Bell County alone there are more than 900 registered sex offenders, in McLennan County there are more than 800, in Coryell there are almost 200 and in Bosque County there are more than 70 registered sex offenders.
“Approach this subject with your child, talk about it and make them know and comfortable that they can say no,” Swanton said.
“It used to be we teach kids ‘stranger danger,’ but we need to expand on that because sometimes even known acquaintances can cause harm to our child and so we need to make sure that they are aware of the dangers,” Swanton said.
Swanton says it’s also important for parents to prepare their children for an emergency situation.
Children should know how and when to dial 911 and have an escape plan should someone try to break into their home when their parents aren’t there.
“Obviously some parents are afraid we are going to terrify them but we just need to prepare them,” Swanton said.
He says it’s also important for parents to monitor their children’s cellphone use and to make sure children know whom to contact in an emergency when parents aren’t available.