MEDFORD, Ore.– Sexual predators are something every parent worries about but a ranking in a national database has Oregonians in particular concerned.
According to a study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Oregon has the highest number of sex offenders per capita. The study shows the state has 679 sex offenders per 100,000 people. The national average is 274.
It’s a shocking statistic that some say may not tell the whole story.
“Something that might be a felony in another state may not be a felony here,” said Tammi Pitzen, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Center. “If the state is driving what happens in their state and it’s not consistent, it’s really hard to compare data.”
From the outside looking in, Oregon exceeding the national average of sex offenders is alarming but Pitzen says it’s about more than the numbers.
“As we educate people, more gets reported,” she said. “So what used to be classified as the dirty old man, ‘Oh he’s harmless, he’s just a dirty old man.’ Well no, he’s a sex offender.”
Access to public records of Level 3 “Predatory” sex offenders have made it easier to keep tabs on them as well. Using a database set up through Oregon State Police, anyone from the public can access their address on a map and see how many live in a mile radius of them.
“One of the things that I think is good about kind of looking at this stuff is that it at least gets people talking and get’s people looking at what’s happening and what’s going on,” said Pitzen.
So while the state numbers may be high, it isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. But Pitzen says that shouldn’t create complacency.
“As a parent or a grandparent or a teacher, you just have to be vigilant and educate yourself about what it is you need to be concerned about when it comes to sexual abuse,” she said.
Medford Police Department confirmed that is does routine checks on all sex offenders based in the city and parents can learn more about how to be vigilant and teach their children how to handle these types of situations at the Children’s Advocacy Center.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.