POTTSTOWN PA – Before they began a presentation last week (Jan. 9, 2013) to a group of about 60 people in Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, members of the Montgomery County Sexual Assault Task Force openly acknowledged they might make someone there cry.
Their discussion about dealing with and managing community sex offenders would be open and honest, they said. It might be provocative; it certainly would stir emotions, they added. For those in the audience who had been victims of sexual abuse at some time during their lives – and the experts were sure there were one or two, given the size of the crowd – the resulting conversation might be overwhelming.
No one cried. No one left before the 90-minute session was over. “Maybe they just hid it well and suffered through it,” one audience member observed.
The experts thought of that, too.
For people have been abused recently or in the past and are in need of help, or for residents who want to know more about keeping their communities safe and secure in the presence of sex offenders, the task force distributed several resources.
Among the most popular was a booklet it prepared, titled “Sex Offenders In Your Community: What You Should Know” (pictured above). The 16-page full-color publication covers myths and facts about sex offenders; describes in detail the roles of various local, state and federal agencies in managing the sex offender population; offers tips on reducing risks to children; and lists two pages of phone numbers and websites with additional help.
Copies of the booklet, and other materials too, are available from the county’s non-profit Victim Services Center by calling 610-277-0932 or 888-521-0983. Task force members, who are assembled from 40 different agencies, heaped praise on the center as an “invaluable” source of comfort and assistance to victims.
For immediate help or to report abuse, the experts recommended calling a local police department or 9-1-1. All three area police chiefs – from Lower, Upper and West Pottsgrove – were represented during the meeting, and assured their support. Other resources they suggested included:
- Children and Youth Services’ Child Line, 800-932-0313;
- Montgomery County Adult Probation, 610-992-7766;
- Montgomery County Juvenile Probation, 610-630-2252;
- Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 484-250-7580; and
- Megan’s Law, 866-771-3170.
Websites they recommended included:
- Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking;
- Center for Sex Offender Management;
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children;
- Pennsylvania State Police Megan’s Law;
- Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape; and
- Pennsylvania Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification.
The workshop was conducted as a public service by the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners, the township Police Depatment, and the Pottsgrove School District.
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