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How Many Sex Offenders Live Near Playgrounds in Rogers Park?

Playground dangers: Fact or fiction? (Photo taken by M.O. Stevens, courtesy of Wikimedia commons)

Is there really a correlation between sex offender and playground locations?  Or have we simply watched too many television shows like Law & Order and Criminal Minds?

After closer examination, it can be observed that in several instances in the neighborhoods of Rogers Park and West Ridge, there may be some correlation.  In Pottawattomie Park, for example, there was an instance of public indecency on the grounds within the last six months.  Several of the parks included in the map have sex offenders living in a block radius.  However, drawing the conclusion that where sex offenders live is linked with playground locations may depend on selective vision or sensationalized media.

Some towns have gone as far as to ban sex offenders from entering parks and playgrounds, while others allow their properties to border school playgroundsOne offender was fined $30,000 for continuing to frequent his Barrington address after he had moved at the request of the police.  According to Illinois state law, offenders are banned from living within 500 feet of a playground, school, or other similar facility.  It is also unlawful for an offender to enter the grounds of a public park, as of January 1, 2011.  This may be difficult to regulate, especially considering that most public parks close after dark.

But do these residency restriction laws actually work?  According to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, many states have prohibited sex offenders from living within a certain radius of schools, parks, etc.  Unfortunately, no evidence has found that these laws actually protect children.  Closer analysis has revealed no relationship between sexual offense recidivism and sex offenders’ proximity to schools or other places where children convene.  In reality, the most dangerous sex offenders are the ones unaccounted for, who frequently move or become homeless due to residency restrictions.

A Time Magazine article entitled, “How to Keep Your Children Safe,” stated that, “Each year, between 200 and 300 kids are taken in ‘stereotypical’ kidnappings (i.e. grabbed from their homes or playgrounds and then murdered or held for ransom), and 50 to 150 are murdered.”  And as stated in a study conducted by the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children (NISMART), it was found that over 70 percent of kidnappings done by strangers occurred in parks or playgrounds.

Whether there truly is a correlation between sex offender whereabouts and playground locations requires multiple interpretations.  The bottom line is that parents should be wary of their children’s safety in public places like parks.  The Chicago Park District‘s Communications Director, Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, said that, “We encourage parents to supervise their children at all times.  There’s only so much we can do, but we try our best to stay aware of any suspicious activity in our parks.”

See map here: http://goo.gl/maps/jjAlo

Information on parks listed in map.

Information for parks found at Chicago Park District.  Sex offender and sexual offense data found at CrimeReports.com.

  • written by kmaloney3 on January 31st, 2013
  • posted in Edit, Featured
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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.