A local psychologist who has counseled hundreds of sex offenders believes there’s nothing more dangerous to them or the public than the Internet.
“If they’ve benefited from treatment at all, they should know that they shouldn’t be involved in any Internet discussions or be on any social networking sites,” said Dr. James Orlando, Clinical Director at Summit Psychological Associates.
“It’s way too tempting for them. It would be like an alcoholic taking a job as a bartender. It’s really not a good idea, and they should know that.”
Earlier this year, Facebook and MySpace each adopted new policies prohibiting sex offenders from having personal pages.
Facebook has already deleted the profiles of more than 5,000 convicted sex offender, including an Akron man who molested boys at a local high school ten years ago and whose Facebook profile was featured several weeks ago on Channel 3 News.
Recently, a Kent mother checked the names of sex offenders in her neighborhood and found four men — all of whom had offended against young girls — with active Facebook profiles.
Orlando realizes that the ease of access makes it impossible to follow every sex offender’s activity on the Internet, but after counseling hundreds of offenders, he’s confident social networking is a one-way ticket to disaster.
“Sex offending occurs in the context of a relationship, almost always,” Orlando said. “So for an offender to offend, they need two things. They need opportunity to get to victims and they need an opportunity to develop a relationship . Social networking enables them to develop a relationship with a lot of people slowly over a course of time, and they slowly groom a lot of people until they find one they can offend against. So it’s ideal for them.”