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On Your Side: Teach your children about their personal boundaries

10:36 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On Halloween, convicted sex offenders and predators in Jacksonville are not allowed to hand out candy. They are required to post a sign outside their home saying "No candy or treats at this residence," and they are suppose to keep their exterior lights turned off.

First For You, we sent a crew out to see if any registered sex offenders were following the law. While we did not find any handing out candy or with their lights on, we only found one with a "no candy" sign posted.

PART 1: More than 100 sex offenders registered as living in one Jacksonville neighborhood

According to the municipal ordinance, the City and the Sheriff's Office can arrest or fine sex offenders who violate the ordinance.

Many parents like Michael Essex check sex offender registries before they take their children trick or treating.

Caroline Busker said, "We generally only go to houses we know so this is our neighborhood, so we pretty much know everybody in it and we know which houses are safe and which house are not."

"I think as a parent it's a great opportunity to have a conversation with your child about not everybody is safe," said Angela Williams.

Williams knows first-hand about predators.

"I was sexually abused for 14 years by my stepfather. My sexual abuse started at age three," Williams said.

The numbers are staggering. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday, and 1 in 6 boys. Only 1 in 10 will tell. Williams says her abuser threatened to kill her mother, and she kept silent for years.

"My disclosure came in a suicide attempt at age 17 when I took 64 sleeping pills and drank a half bottle of vodka and praise God that was not the plan for me," said Williams.

Williams started an organization called Voice Today (http://www.voicetoday.org/) to help break the silence and cycle of child sexual abuse. She says 90 percent of the risk is actually from someone a child knows and trusts. Parents she says should monitor one adult, one child contact closely.

"They have the right no say no to authority. We teach our children to be very submissive to authority. We need to educate our children about personal boundaries and really talking about their personal space and their personal parts," said Williams.

Here's what she suggests: drop in unexpectedly when your kids are away from home. When they get back from a visit, ask how it was, and pay close attention to their body language and if they don't want to spend time with someone.

Willaims said, "Frankly, we just need to have the conversation. We just need to ask our children has anyone ever touched you in your private parts or made you feel uncomfortable and those are just conversations we are just not having."

You can download for free the Life 360 app (http://www.life360.com/) that will show you where sex offenders are registered as living. It also has a panic button your child can press to notify you when they need to help.

Police recommend you check sex offender registries regularly because they are updated frequently:

FDLE Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators database
(http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/homepage.do)

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Offender Watch (http://www.coj.net/departments/sheriffs-office/offender-watch.aspx)

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