I have to confess, being a parent has made me more suspicious. Maybe it's because I've watched too many crime shows about children being abducted and/or molested. For that matter, maybe I've succumbed to the current hysteria on the subject. Maybe I just can't help it.
During the last three and a half years, I've developed a kind of parental radar that makes me notice things that might have otherwise slipped by me. For example, when we take Parker to the park near where we live — the one with lots of trees, slides, swings and other things for kids to play on — I've developed an ability to quickly pick up on the other adults in the area and which kids they're connected to; parents, grandparents, nannies, etc. But they're not the ones I really notice. It's the adults who aren't attached to any kid that keep one eye on while I keep the other on my kid.
Like I said, too many crime shows. But I start to wonder if I not being paranoid when I read about sex offenders suing for playground access.
Six sex offenders sued the city Wednesday to block a new ordinance that bars them from venturing within 1,000 feet of parks, pools and playgrounds when children are present.
The plaintiffs went to federal court to argue that the law is unconstitutionally vague, violates their rights to vote and attend church, and prevents them from freely traveling on roads that may pass within 1,000 feet of the affected sites.
… The six, who include convicted child molesters and rapists, are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.
And the ACLU, bless 'em, is on the case. I have to admit, I'm conflicted here. The card-carrying ACLU member in me says that if these people have "paid their debt to society," they they should be left alone and not harassed by various and sundry ordinances that make it impossible for them to live and work on the outside. What route do you take to work that doesn't bring you withing 1,000 feed of a playground, school, or park? Where do you live that doesn't violate an ordinance like that? And on, and on.
But the parent in me isn't so sure. Would I want one of these folks within 1,000 feet of my kid? No. So, while I'm not sure about laws like the one mentioned above, I'll continue keeping one eye on my kid and keeping the other on any adults who don't quite seem to belong at the playground.