There are many myths surrounding sex offenders, often created by highly publicized cases in the media. This has led to commonly held beliefs that are not based in fact and can actually decrease public safety.
The Rule of 90
The "Rule of 90" helps clear up the myths surrounding sex offenders. Extensive research shows that approximately:
These statistics are important when considering how to best prevent sexual abuse. The fear of "stranger danger" or of convicted sex offenders living in the community causes many people to overlook the fact that the perpetrator of a sexual offense is most likely to be a family member, friend, or someone the victim knows and trusts.
Myths about sex offenders can also lead to public policy and community action that is primarily focused on convicted sex offenders, which does very little to prevent sexual abuse and can actually decrease public safety.
As noted by the Center for Sex Offender Management, many laws focused on sex offenders -- such as community notification and residency restrictions -- have the potential to create a false sense of security because they imply that the greatest risk of victimization comes from strangers and that most sexually abusive individuals have been apprehended. Neither is true.
One of the biggest myths is that sex offenders are likely to repeat their offense. In reality:
By focusing the majority of concern on convicted sex offenders, community members risk overlooking important public safety facts:
Frequently, the abuser is an older child or adolescent:
The statistics are similar for sexual assaults against adults:
Another myth is that sex offender treatment doesn't work. In fact:
The many myths surrounding sex offenders often make it hard for them to find jobs, housing, and community services once they re-enter society.
Unfortunately, the harder our community makes it for them to find stability, the more likely it is that they will re-offend.
A person who is homeless, unemployed, and lacking positive social support is more likely to re-offend than someone with stable housing, a secure job, and a strong support network.
Unless and until we debunk the myths surrounding sex offenders, we will not be able to create a community that wisely focuses its resources on ensuring stability for sex offenders and preventing further sexual abuse.
MNSORP does not engage in direct lobbying or legislative activities, although individual members or organizations may be involved in issues advocacy . However, we do believe it is important for citizens and community leaders to understand the facts surrounding sexual offenders.