The Coastal Post - September, 1995

1-900 Child Molester Hotline

BY ATTORNEY GENERAL DANIEL E. LUNGREN

A New Tool For Parents To Protect Their Children From Child Molesters

An employee at a California amusement park recently became suspicious when a 47-year-old man purchased an adult all-season pass for himself, but no child's pass. The man had been seen several times talking to small children at the park, which caters to about 1,000 children every day. The employee called our new 1-900 Child Molester Identification Line, and found out that the man was, in fact, a convicted child molester. Other park employees were immediately notified, and instructed to monitor him closely.

A father was concerned when an old friend wanted to move in with him. Since his children regularly visit, the father wanted to check on the friend first. He called our 900 number and learned that his potential new roommate is a convicted child molester.

The new line launched on July 3, is doing as much if not more than any other program in the history of California to prevent sexual attacks against children. In its first two weeks of operation, the hotline received 347 phone inquiries, with 31 hits — positive confirmations that the subject of the inquiry is a registered sex offender, previously convicted of sex crimes against children.

This program puts power into the hands of parents and others responsible for the safety of kids. Just by calling 1-900-463-0400, parents are now able to learn whether a day care provider or volunteer, a soccer or little league coach,or a neighbor is a registered child molester.

Previously, this information was veiled under a cloak of secrecy. Even if law enforcement officers knew a person with access to kids was a convicted child molester, they were barred by law from telling anyone, even the at-risk child's parents. Under the new law I sponsored, that veil of secrecy has been lifted.

Currently, of the 60,400 registered sex offenders in California, there are about 37,300 convicted of sex crimes against children. Thanks to separate legislation which I sponsored last year, a sex offender who fails to register can be charged with a felony.

Unfortunately, sex offenders appear to have the highest rate of repeating their crimes and claiming new victims. Each month, about 200 to 250 new sex registrants are released from incarceration. Criminal history research reveals that a serious habitual sex offender can commit hundreds of crimes in his criminal career. These criminal acts can involve all types of offenses ranging from peeping in windows and lewd exposure to kidnap, rape, sodomy and even murder.

Law enforcement is doing more than ever to protect society from these predators, but we cannot do the job alone. That's why the Child Molester Identification Line is such a powerful new tool. In order to use this service, the caller must be over the age of 18, give their own name and explain why they need the information. The caller must provide the subject's name and any one of the following items: exact address, driver's license number, social security number, date of birth, or an exact physical description (height, weight, hair color eye color, ethnicity, and scars, marks or tattoos). Caller may check up to two names for a $10 fee, which will appear on their phone bill.

Our new hotline empowers parents to help protect children by making sure the adults near their kids do not have a history of assaulting children. Once this hotline is routinely used by parents, organizations and companies with a special obligation to assure child safety, we will do a far better job than ever before in protecting our kids from the horror of sexual assault.