How many more kids?

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We all know the odds. We all know the history and the pattern.

We all know that once a child goes missing, it's not good. At all.

But there are enough isolated cases of missing kids being found alive to give us hope.

Elizabeth Smart of Utah was discovered alive after nine months.

Thirteen-year-old Clay Moore of Florida was forced from a school bus stop into a pickup truck, bound and gagged and left in the woods, perhaps for ransom. But with the help of a safety pin on his clothing, he wriggled free and escaped.

William "Ben" Ownby, 13, had been missing four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, 15, had disappeared for four years, before both were rescued in a suburban St. Louis apartment lived in by accused kidnapper Michael J. Devlin, who is also charged with sexual assault and producing child pornography.

Still, such rescues and escapes are rare. Sadly, too common is the instance when what searchers find is a lifeless body where a child once dwelled.

That was the tragic case of Jessica Lunsford - whose child-molesting killer, John Couey, was recommended for execution by a jury in Florida last week.

And, again, such was the case of poor little Christopher Barrios, whose remains had been dumped near a roadside some three miles from his Brunswick-area trailer park.

He'd been last seen by someone playing on a swing set March 8.

To someone else, though, he was seen as little more than prey.

Police have arrested four people - including a convicted child molester, his parents whom he was living with across from Christopher's grandmother in the same trailer park, and a family friend.

Wow. Never would have seen that coming. A child molester, out on parole, allegedly swooping on a neighborhood kid - who ends up dead.

To add insult to tragedy, police say the suspects kept giving authorities false leads and conflicting information about not only the boy's whereabouts, but even about whether he was alive or dead.

Meanwhile, his body was wasting in a garbage bag descended upon by flies.

When is this society going to get serious about protecting children?

History may look back on this period of "sex offender registries" with horror and shame, as well it should. What makes us think that releasing a dangerous predator from prison and requiring him to simply fill out his address on a piece of paper makes him any less dangerous, or our children any safer?

It doesn't.

Nor does offering us the chance to have our children's DNA swabbed for the record do anything to protect them. It just makes it easier to identify them when they turn up dead.

That's all well and good, but what about preventing the death in the first place?

Absent some kind of maiming surgery, how can it be safe to ever release sexual predators, especially those who target children? We've been compassionate to child molesters for one more child too long.

It's not compassionate to anyone, even the molesters, to allow them the freedom that grants them access to our children.

It's time to give up on child molesters.

How many strikes do they get before we take them out of circulation?

How many more children do we want to find in trash bags?

Comments (10) Add comment
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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/19/07 - 05:02 am
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This story is thousands of

This story is thousands of years old. All through our history children are subject to the most heinous crimes. Not all of them, just the ones that are not watched every second of every day by people that love and respect them. Children can't bestow power on others, so they receive less government protection then any group other then the unborn. 100% of the responsibility for protection of children falls on the guardian, as it should. It would be nice if our government would help by keeping predators off the street, but the bleeding heart p.c. crowd is to powerful to let that happen. Children without vigilant guardians are and will remain easy prey for the sociopaths. Will we as a society take steps to help prevent this ongoing problem? Probably, but not soon.

elle
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elle 03/19/07 - 08:11 am
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I'm confused. Why should the

I'm confused. Why should the welfare of children concern an editorial staff that cheers the placement of a soup kitchen next to Davidson? Are you not aware Mr. Couey ate at this soup kitchen for several days? Are you not aware that a man was arrested for entering the school on three different occasions looking for gum to hide the alcohol on his breath so that the soup kitchen would feed him. I guess the editors of the Chronicle will only be outraged after the fact.

mgroothand
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mgroothand 03/19/07 - 08:38 am
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The awareness that the

The awareness that the general media has given to this insidious problem has likely prevented many more cases of child molestation and even deaths. It has also created a mild problem for men who just love to watch and hear children at play. No more walks through a park and delight at their fun and innocence, listening to their squeals and just smiling at them. In my case that includes being vigilant about others who may have different intentions. The parents or guardians of these children have been made well aware of the constant dangers and suspect everyone. But, as I said, it is a mild problem.

sgachief
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sgachief 03/19/07 - 08:40 am
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Wonderful tearjerky

Wonderful tearjerky editorial, but why are you not up in arms about Sen. Jim Whitehead's proposal to weaken Georgia's sex offender law? Of course the bill has some good points such as multi-county registrations of offenders, but relaxing the distance rules and exempting persons older than 75 will only endanger our children and grandchildren. The law should be strengthened, not weakened.

lord griggs1947
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lord griggs1947 03/19/07 - 09:42 am
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Couldn't public appeals be

Couldn't public appeals be made to urge potential child molesters to seek help to keep them from doing so before there could be a great urge to do so ?Molesters aren't cureable , if one has not yet done so or even only minor doing so, can counseling help that person .

Anne
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Anne 03/19/07 - 02:54 pm
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What nobody has bothered to

What nobody has bothered to mention here is the reason that this sex offender (Edenfield) was living across the road from Barrios is that he was forced to move from his other home by the passage of HB1059 that, among other things, tells registered sex offenders where to live. HB1059 was suppose to protect children. Many people in the know such as the GA Sherrif's Assn., therapists, probation officers, etc told the legislators that it wouldn't help protect anyone. None of our lawmakers listened, instead they wanted to appear tough on crime in an election year. HB1059 put Edenfield across the street from this poor child. Also Couey was an absconding sex offender, meaning he was not registered where he was suppose to be and had no intention of doing so, so no tough laws or sex offender registries would have ever helped poor Jessica Lunsford. Of the 10,000+ registered sex offenders in GA, only 15-20 are listed as predators. Make sure you know the difference before lumping all of them together. They are all not the same and thousands among thousands pose no threat to your children.

Anne
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Anne 03/19/07 - 03:02 pm
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Furthermore, most times than

Furthermore, most times than not, the sex offender that abducts and kills a child has absconded from the system. He is suppose to be registered but isn't registering. Couey is one of those. Also, child abductions, rapes and murders represent less than 1% of sex offenses against children. As horrific as it is, it doesn't happen that often and yes those convicted of these crimes should be executed over and over again. Understand people, that our registries have gotten out of hand. They were intitially intended for only sexual predators (the most dangerous). Now anyone from consesual sex among teenagers, public urination, mooning, indecent exposure (child or not) will get you on the registry. The registry is a joke because it lumps everyone on it together. It protects nobody, especially our children. As a mother of two pre-teen girls, my main concern is family, friends and people that my daughters trust. Call me paranoid, but over 90% of sex offenses against children come from one of these, not from a registered sex offender.

Rambler
13
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Rambler 03/19/07 - 04:16 pm
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Your papers recent

Your papers recent investigations seem really concerned about victims. A recent sample of criminal coddling as follows:

"An investigation by The Augusta Chronicle revealed that in Richmond County alone, nearly half of the 339 people convicted at trial and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences in the past 10 years have never had an appeal.

Those with money to hire private attorneys and those with diligent appointed counsel have been able to negotiate the appellate process.

According to the newspaper's investigation, about one in five received some kind of relief, from a conviction being reversed to a sentencing reduction."
-The ACLU should give your paper an award.

so_solutions
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so_solutions 03/20/07 - 05:08 pm
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Politicians and the media

Politicians and the media want you to believe in the stranger danger myth. The fact is according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, American Psychological Association, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and other experts; children are abused by a family member or someone trusted by the family in around 90 percent of the time and first time offenders make up 95 percent of all cases. Facts are subjugated to distortion. Citizens, communities, journalist, media personalities, and legislators should demand a National Sex Offender Public Policy Forum to address this issue. Forums should include mental health professionals, jurist, law enforcement and corrections personnel, victims and their families, offenders and their families. What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong, in lieu of fostering a fearful witch-hunt mentality for votes, ratings and advertising dollars, our elected officials and the media should step up to this societal challenge. They should strive to dispel the myths and create the environment for policy and subsequent legislation to succeed. Educate yourself, protect your children; at the end of the day, it's up to you, not government, or the media.

ZMan
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ZMan 03/21/07 - 07:08 pm
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This continues to happen

This continues to happen because the media and politicians are NOT listening to the experts. My solution, which is extreme I know, but would be to use the DigitalAngel GPS/Chip implant on the children, placed in a random spot. Instead of placing GPS on the offenders. This way, when a child goes missing, you could just go to the parents house and look up the GPS log of where the kid has been and is, and know who took the kid and where they are quickly. If you put GPS on the sex offender, you'd have to check many people, wasting time, before you could locate the offender, but not the child. The horror and fear the media and politicians spread into a hysteria is only for ratings, money and businesses. If they'd listen to experts, we could eliminate a majority of these laws. But they will not due this, to protect kids, they use them for ratings...

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