Free-Range Kids

Patch Publishes Completely Unnecessary Sex Offender Maps to Keep Kids Safe on Halloween

There is zero evidence that sex offenders prey on trick or treaters.


Famveldman / Dreamstime

Every year around Halloween time, Patch, the news website specializing in local coverage around the country, publishes maps that show where sex offenders live. Patch claims this is some kind of public service, even though a thorough study of 67,000 cases of child molestation found zero increase in sex crimes against children on Halloween.

The vast majority of crimes against children are not committed by strangers, but by people close to the kids. Stranger danger is actually pointing worried parents in the wrong direction.

What's more, sex offenders are not especially likely to go after kids on Halloween. Contrary to popular belief, "across the board the majority of sexual offenders do not go on to reoffend," says Jill Levenson, a professor of social work who has studied Halloween crimes.

In other words, Patch publishes a list of people who have served their time and are extremely unlikely to offend again, in order to make parents terrified that the people at those addresses are out to hurt their kids.

This year is no exception. Here's a typical Patch piece, headlined: "Fairfield 2018 Sex Offender Addresses To Be Aware Of On Halloween." The article continues: "Find out where the registered sex offenders are living in Fairfield before the kids go out trick-or-treating. … You may want to avoid trick-or-treating at these houses and apartments on Halloween, or merely be aware of who's living in your neighborhood during the rest of the year."

Why? Why find this out, considering the facts above?

Last year, the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws' had had enough with this approach, and wrote a letter to Patch imploring the company to stop publicizing sex offenders' addresses. The letter, which Patch ran, suggested printing a map of all the places children have been harmed or abducted on Halloween by someone on the registry over the past 20 years. "Such a map would display no dots because exhaustive research has turned up not so much as a single case," wrote NARSOL's board.

That's right: There is no recorded case of a trick or treater molested by someone on the registry either before or after localities started forbidding registrants from turning on their lights or answering the door on Halloween. The rules and the warnings made no difference, just as forbidding kids from trick or treating at homes where there are pet rabbits, or ficus trees, would make no difference. The kids are perfectly safe.

Patch responded last year with a piece subtitled, "This is why Patch publishes local sex offender maps." It was by Dennis Robaugh, a top editor of the company.

This was Robaugh's rationale: A child was raped and murdered by a man named Gerald Turner in Wisconsin on Halloween in 1973. "We publish sex offender maps because people deserve to know whether they live near someone like Turner," wrote Robaugh.

But the maps do not let people know if they are living near someone like Turner. Not every sex offender is a child-murdering rapist. In fact, very few of them are.

Robaugh adds: "Statistics and research may show children are at no greater risk of falling victim to pedophiles on Halloween than any other time of the year, but that doesn't mean children are not vulnerable."

Forget statistics. Patch prefers to stick with hysteria.

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  1. Pedophiles absolutely hide razor blades in their penises!

    1. Pedophiles? Heck, I thought everybody hid razorblades in their penises.

      1. I learned how to do it from Brett Kavanaugh. But since I’m not a pedophile I don’t do it.

  2. The Patch article “This is Why Patch Publishes Local Sex Offender Maps” would have been much more honest and a much shorter read if they had just said “Patch wants to generate clicks and attract eyeballs. $$$$$$$”.

  3. The average age of sex offenders is 14.

    So those pedophiles are not at home on Halloween anyway!

    1. The average age of sex offenders is 14.

      Lenore, I have to ask for links on that one.

      This infers that for every 20-year-old sex offender, there statistically is one 8-year-old, maybe two 11-year-olds. I thought maybe “median age of 14”, but that’s even worse.

      As bad as the registry is, I can’t see average 14. I know kids can be on the registry, but to this extent? Don’t go all hysterical the other way with (possibly) inflated numbers.

      1. Yeah, that statistic makes no sense. After a quick search the closest thing to that I found was from a 1986 LA Times “profile of teenage sex offenders”…..teen-agers which said the average age of JUVENILE sex offenders in the area was 14. The average victim age being 6. Which brings me to my next point…

        Not every sex offender is a child-murdering rapist. In fact, very few of them are. The average age of sex offenders is 14.

        How does that statistic refute the first part of that line? It’s like you’re saying that it’s a given that teenagers are all blameless angels, but that idea is so laughably ridiculous that I can’t believe someone would even suggest it.

      2. That statistic comes from a BJ study,, titled “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement,” page 8, where it says, “In general, the detailed age profile of offenders in sexual assault crimes shows that the single age with the greatest number of offenders from the perspective of law enforcement was age 14.” The article does not clarify that the finding relates to the title, that the age is the average in the sexual assault of young children, but since the entire article deals with Halloween and trick-or-treat and, therefore, the risk to young children, that is a given. The piece is not about who commits sexual crime in general but who commits sexual crime against young children. A very high percentage of the perpetrators are themselves children, often older siblings, cousins, and friends of the victims.

  4. What’s more, sex offenders are not especially likely to go after kids on Halloween.

    Just like the demons in Buffy, they usually take the night off.

  5. Statistics and research may show children are at no greater risk of falling victim to Dennis Robaugh on Halloween than any other time of the year, but that doesn’t mean children are not vulnerable.

    1. Would it surprise you if it turned out that anti-pedophilia advocates like Robaugh committed sex crimes at a higher rate than the regular population?

  6. In case anyone was wondering if Twitter or Google could deplatform you in your own home, steps up to answer.

    I kinda want to hang a sign, written ‘in blood’, that says “ advised against trick-or-treating at this house this Halloween. Visit my website or follow me on Twitter to find out why.” and then, on the page, have the word “Chumps!” followed by a photo blog where I proceed to eat several bowls of leftover candy.

  7. The registry is used as a social isolation tool. So, any pretense of a reason to “warn” is justified.

    I won’t go back on a registry again. It takes safety and security from offenders and is used to isolate a person from the community. Isolation is, per se, a punishment, ESPECIALLY, when dangerousness is not a requirement to be listed. Therefore, the prohibition on ex-post facto laws, double jeopardy, and the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments is invoked.

    A little due process would go a long way to giving the registry some credibility. Having a presumption of dangerousness goes against all ideals of how free countries work. Sorry about your registry. It is dangerous to public safety, and I mostly, I don’t have to choose between following a law and losing my safety and/or security. It just doesn’t work that way.

  8. They’re perverts everywhere. Best to keep your kids inside all of the time. Keep them quiet too.

  9. Haven’t you seen those documentaries about that escaped lunatic who kills kids on Halloween?

    1. Some of those high-school kids he killed must have been as young as 25!

      1. I think the killer was Canadian, he wore a hockey mask.

        1. Michael Myers also wore a Canadian mask.

  10. Patch is not a government body. It is selling a product that people want to buy If it is not a good product, the market will take care of it

    No need to go around clutching your pearls and fainting on couches.

    1. Clutching your pearls and fainting on couches is good.

      Just before. Well we know the rules in slasher films.

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