Protecting children against sex crimes, Internet dangers, abuse, and addiction starts with learning the dangers and what to do from experts in the know. Area law enforcement will educate parents and guardians about these issues, including the state’s sex offender registry and protective behaviors at a free “Protecting Our Children” seminar at Cottage Grove Elementary School on Wednesday, Sept. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. Parents will learn how to communicate with their children about these issues and to keep the lines of communication open.
“Right now there are 15,000 registered sex offenders,” said Kim Knapp, Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registration specialist. The registry contains the name, location, offense information, descriptive information, and other data about registered sex offenders and child abductors. “An informed community is a safe community,” says Knapp.
Two laws, named after youth who were victims of sexual assault, alerts communities to potentially dangerous persons.The Jacob Wetterling Law requires that sex offenders who were tried after Dec. 25, 1993, must register on the Sex Offender Registry Web site. Megan’s Law mandates that communities be notified about a sex offender’s location.
Knapp will discuss the state’s sex offender registry and how the public can use it to keep informed. “We also get into protective behaviors. We want to teach the tools that reduce victimization,” Knapp added. “We want kids empowered.”
Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Dorn will offer advice on Internet safety. Parents generally are unaware of the dangers children face using the Internet, observes Dorn. He will use past pedophile cases such as the Seer Magi criminal case to discuss the dangers that are in cyberspace, warning signs regarding Internet usage, and how parents should monitor their children’s online activities.
Dane County Detective Kathy Dorn, Ron’s wife, and Cottage Grove Police Chief John Gould, also will participate in the presentations.
The seminar is presented by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corrections and is sponsored by the Cottage Grove Police, the Cottage Grove Elementary School PTO, and the Cottage Grove Girl Scouts.
Due to the nature of the discussion, children should not attend the seminar. Cottage Grove Girl Scout Troop 246 will provide childcare in the Cottage Grove Elementary School cafeteria.