School Security thwarts sex offenders- what do you think?

Tonya - posted on 12/10/2008 ( 5 moms have responded )




There's a hot topic in the news this week about the school security system used in a majority of Texas schools and all of Round Rock ISD campuses and facilities. The controversy surrounds that tiny scanning device in the front office where all visitors are required to swipe their driver's license or government-issued identification before being allowed to enter the building where children are present.

The system, operated by Houston-based Raptor Technologies, uses the first and last name, date of birth, and a partial ID number to screen each visitor against custodial restrictions and sex offender databases across the nation.

A couple whose children attended a Lake Travis ISD elementary school two years ago just filed a lawsuit saying that scanning their ID violated their constitutional rights.


This system is used in more than 5,000 schools nationwide and has been credited with helping in the arrests of absconded registered sex offenders (sex offenders who move from one state to another without re-registering as a sex offender and are removed from the old registry). And according to the news, the system also correctly identified more than 1,100 registered sex offenders entering those 5,000-plus campuses in 2008.

For those reasons alone, I can't understand anyone's objections. We bank, buy, sell and pay our bills online, so why wouldn't we want our schools to use the latest technology to help keep our kids safe?

I hated the old paper-sign-in-clipboard which only kept track of people who stopped in at the front office when they felt like it. Now, with the Raptor system, all of us wear (and watch that others are wearing) that very distinctive white sticker with a name, photo and destination. And instead of just one or two administrators keeping watch, we've got the eyes of all volunteers, teachers and visitors paying attention to who is inside our school at all times.

I debated the issue of "sex offender paranoia" with my husband. He thinks the media is to blame for making all of us panic over the word "sex offender." He had recently seen a story on television that outlined the trials and tribulations of being wrongly accused and trying to live with that label for the rest of your life.

It's a fact that the sex offender registries in all 50 states only list those people who are convicted of a crime - not accusations. Whether the victim is a six-year-old or a 16-year-old, the person is still a convicted criminal.

Another accurate argument is that most sexual crimes against children are committed by someone they know and rarely by complete strangers. It's still hard for me to swallow the "rarely" part, but I understand the argument.

However, my friend put it best the other day when she pointed out that it only takes one "boyfriend" of a mother who comes to school to eat lunch or volunteer in the classroom and sit down next to my child. I don't want his girlfriend's word that he's not a registered sex offender. I want to see that little white sticker on his shirt!

For me, a swipe of my ID is a small price to pay for my children's safety. Someone else coined a phrase that I plan to repeat often: "Your rights end at my child's nose."

Let me know what you think about this issue or if you have any ideas for this Family First column. I'd love to hear from you!

Tonya Kerr lives in Round Rock with her husband and three daughters. She's a former television news anchor, congressional press secretary, and public relations executive. Contact her at

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Jannie - posted on 03/26/2013




Give me a break! By constitutional law, parents have the right to take their kids to a different school. Don't like what the public schools are doing? Choose a private school!

Statistics say 90% of sex offenders who molest kids will molest again.

I say a BIG THANK YOU to whomever implemented the plan. Texas has been a leader in protecting kids from predators since Amber Hagerman and the Amber Alert. It's fantastic that a school system has stepped up to protect our children in serious ways from serious threats. I'm not from Texas, but I'm a fan!

Amie - posted on 12/11/2008




Interesting, I came across this thread by chance. I don't have much to say in the way of this as in Canada (in the city I live in) this is not what is done in our schools. We have registry as well that is country wide, not province to province (state to state). Our schools are always kept in a semi-lockdown mode. The only doors open after all kids are inside are the front doors. All doors are monitored by teachers as well to make sure only students are coming in and they lock them behind them. After that when you go through the front doors you have to pass by the secretary's and principal before you enter. Our schools also stop you and ask you who you are, why you are there and for which child.
If you do not have a child in that school you are not allowed to enter, baring of course delivery people, support people (psychologists, social workers, etc.) BUT the ones who do interact with our children are not allowed anywhere near them without having a criminal record check being done this includes parents who volunteer (which the parent, etc. is required to pay for themselves). Which I find to be a better idea anyway, sex offenders are not all I worry about.
Most parents have few issues going to the school as the ones that care to be involved in their children's lives are known to the staff, such as myself and husband. There has only been one instance of a parent having to leave, well he wasn't even a parent, he was a bf of a parent, since he was not known to the staff and no one had called to let the staff know he would be picking up these children he was asked to leave. The entire school was put in full lock down as be became very beligerant about the whole thing, he figured he had rights, he doesn't in our schools eyes, the kids come first. All parents were informed as quickly as calls could be made and it ended up turning out well. The police were contacted and were there within a couple minutes to take him.
I'm happy with the system our schools have in place, it's worked well. It's very low cost and very effective.

[deleted account]

Also for the record, your child is far more likely to die in a plane crash than have a sex offender say boo to them.

To me, that level of risk is simply NOT worth (a) spending millions of dollars and (b) setting the infrastructure in place that could be used in some exceedingly scary, fascist ways.

Tia - posted on 12/11/2008




You better believe I agree all schools should have this new system being put in. Why are we always listening to the few people who are against it to the majority whom are not? My childs safety comes first wether someone is offended by it or not. It is the schools responsibility to keep our childeren safe as well as provide a proper education for them!

[deleted account]

The first thing I'd like to point out is that over 90% of all sexual abuse of children is committed by someone the family knows.

This whole 'OOOOOOH, a stranger's going to kidnap my child from school and molest them!' terrorfest is intended to (a) sell newspapers/TV ad time, and (b) keep us all terrified so we buy more stuff.

Turning our schools into armed camps will not lower sex-offender rates, though it might help with certain kinds of gang activity.

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