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Mental Health Professionals' Perspectives on Sex Offender Registry Web Sites

In an attempt to reduce the occurrence of childhood sexual abuse, some state governments have passed legislation allowing the public access to sex offender registries. One of the ways this access is granted is through the world wide web (web). There is, however, limited research on the impact this type of community notification has on actual rates of child sexual abuse. This study investigates the opinions of 133 mental health professionals who work with sex offenders regarding the implications of public sex offender registry web sites. Over 80% of the participants in this study do not believe that sex offender registry sites will affect the number of children who are sexually abused each year. Seventy percent of the respondents also believe that a listing of sex offenders on the web will create a false sense of security for parents, and over 60% of the respondents believe that sex offenders who are listed on these sites will become targets of vigilantism in their community. Implications for future research are provided.

Key Words: sex offender - registry - world wide web - child - sexual abuse ..more.. by Alvin Malesky and Jeanmarie Keim, 100 Ball Education, Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, 38152

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