Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Space

I went to a bookgroup the other night where all the members had chosen one of my titles to read the previous month. It was a really fun evening--what's better than being able to talk about all my books--but one woman relayed some information I had not heard yet, and I'm relaying it now to you.

Back in May, Myspace had deleted 7,000 profiles made by known sex offenders, but they would not share the information with authorities even though for sex offenders on parole or probation using the internet is usually a violation. However, they changed their mind, possibly due to several lawsuits sent their way by parents of children who have been assaulted by sex offenders they met through MySpace. As of last week they have deleted 29,000 profiles by known sex offenders and they are not done yet. Not only are they working hard to make MySpace a safer place to surf, but they are also working with a separate company to develop a national sex offender database rather than the state ones that currently exist.

However, if this makes you feel better, and makes MySpace seem safer, consider that the average sex offender has engaged in an average of 112 events BEFORE they get arrested and there are over 600,000 registered sex offenders in the US and 16 of the 50 states do not have a registry at all. My point: The threat is real.

I have a MySpace profile, both a personal and one for my book, Sheep's_Clothing. It's been a good marketing tool for me, and a way to keep in touch with family members and freinds. I'm not surfing it every day like many people, but I do not believe that MySpace is evil in and of itself and they mandate that kid's have to be 14 in order to have a page. However, it's potential is frightening and this information is just one more reminder of why it's such a big deal right now.

I'm not a zealot, nor an activist. I'm not out to change laws--and some people find my book and this topic too creepy (see the most recent review left on Deseret Book--at least she felt it was well written) but I am about awareness, and learning the risks facing our kids. I learned a lot in writing Sheep's_Clothing, and it's my hope the readers do too.

For more information, go to this article, or buy a copy of Sheep's_Clothing :-) If you'd like to find how many registered sex offenders are in your area, go here. They certainly aren't only on MySpace.

Know your neighborhood and what your kids do online--What you can give them (education and supervision) is the best protection they have.


Tristi Pinkston said...

Okay, I want to be a stinker now -- I totally get that some people want to read just for entertainment, but honestly, to act like it's awful if they're actually taught something in the process? Sheesh!!

(I'm referring to the review you linked to, by the way)

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing this. appreciated, kathleen

Heather Moore said...

I read the article about the predators on My Space too. They're everywhere. I was surprised at the review on your Sheep's Clothing book though. I think that's exactly WHY your book is so great. It deals with a creepy topic. Just because I don't like the bad stuff in the world doesn't mean that I should ignore it. I have read books that are truly disturbing, but your book doesn't fit into that category. If anything, it's a huge MOTIVATOR to educate and monitor internet activity with your family. I also think your book is great for teenagers to read. We don't want to cram hard-core facts down their neck, but if they can see it through a character's eyes (Jess), something might hit home. I still think about your book, and I've recommended it to many people. If it can just open the eyes of ONE child/teenager/parent, it's worth getting reviews from people who were disappointed it wasn't a "feel good" book.

Anonymous said...

Posting anonymously for reasons that will soon become obvious. I followed your link to the sex offender's registry for my state. There are two in my neighborhood; one I recognized. I've been in their home. He was convicted of incest. This was really disturbing because there are several minor children in the home who are not biologically related to him. Now that's creepy.

Julie Wright said...

wow. I knew it was bad, but I didn't realize how bad. I personally want to thank you for Sheep's clothing. It inspired my husband and I to crack down on our internet rules and to really pay attention to what our kids do on the computer. Your book was necessary and timely. I'm always recommending it and soooo grateful you wrote it.

Unknown said...

It's really amazing, the number of sexual predators that exist within our nation. Scarily, 29,000 simply scratches the surface. I'm glad MySpace is making this effort and compiling a private database. I'm certain it will be much more complete, as well as effective, then the law enforcement database.

I think it very important to be aware who lives where and what they've done. I used to let my nephews and nieces play by themselves at the little private park in our neighborhood. Now that I know three convicted sex offenders live within a six block radius, the kids can't go unless Alvin or I are with them.

It's a sad, sad world we live in.

Josi said...

I have seven within about a mile of my home, and I live in a small town. At least one of them is a man I see on almost a daily basis. He's cut his hair so it's not like it is in the photo, but he walks by my house every day. Also, the database only lists those that have been convicted, I know of one more in my neighborhood who has not yet gone to trial even though he was arrested almost two years ago. He's awaiting trial and working as a waiter in a restaurant.

Anon--that is scary, good luck.

As for the review, I'm not upset about it, the book is intense and for people that have read my romances, it's probably not what they expected. And it's a trade off, I have people that haven't liked my other books before that LOVE this one. So it all evens out.

Thanks for the feedback you guys--and good luck in your homes. It is a scary world, thank goodness for the man resources available to us to help protect the children in our lives.

Josi said...

I must be tired--I meant that I have several within 5 miles of my house--I only have about two dozen homes within a mile.

And I meant "many" resources rather than "Man" It's 8:30 and I already need a nap ;-)

Josi said...

AHHHHHH--seven, with an n, not several. Sheesh, where's my coffee? And why am re-reading my comments?

Luisa Perkins said...

Well, yuck.

I'm looking forward to my trip out west today, when I plan to pick up copies of your books.

On the lighter side, I tagged you today for a quick, fun meme. I hope you'll find a minute to play!

Unknown said...

And then add to these the ones who haven't yet committed the awful act, but are planning on it. What a sad and tragic thing all this is. Good for you, Josi, writing your heart out as always. I'm getting a copy for my son's family (the book, that is).