Law enforcement and the community are extremely important assets when dealing with missing children. Unfortunately, back in 1987 law enforcement was not as quick to react as they are today. On August 31, 1987 in a small community of Montana, Derek VanLuchene’s brother,
Ryan, an eight year old, went missing while playing in his backyard.
The comments in the chat room focused on how sad and tragic that must have been for the family and Derek at the age of seventeen. Derek commented how it felt like walking around with cement boots and just bending over to tie your shoe took forever. Obviously, the event was the catalyst for Derek’s decision to make a change in how the process for looking for missing children and abductions were handled.
Part of the tragedy is that no one suspected the worse. No one realized that a violent sexual predator had been released into the community only months earlier.
It was sometime later at an appeals hearing that a probation officer shared his insight about what had happened. He had gotten into his car and when he turned on the radio, he had heard about Ryan, who had gone missing and almost became ill because he knew that only ninety days earlier they had released Robert Hornback into the community of Libby, Montana.
What was appalling, is when Robert Hornback was released from prison, he commented to the prison officials that he would do the same thing, except this time, “I will kill my victim and leave no witnesses”. That has been a gripping thought of Derek and his family ever since.
“We told ourselves every day that Ryan’s death was not in vain and that brought us to our feet.” Derek and his family rose above the tragedy and championed the cause for legislation for initiating a sex offender registry. Montana was one of the first States to enact a sex registry, which is still in effect today.
organization in memory of his brother Ryan.
One of the goals of “Ryan United” is to make sure sex offenders are held accountable. If sex offenders have gotten by with crimes against children chances are and statistics show they will most likely continue to commit those crimes.
We discussed the issue of child pornography and one thing I want to point out that may not be understood by the public is that most child pornography taken is of a criminal act perpetrated against a child.Child pornography is not a picture taken of your baby’s first bath. They have nothing to do with preserving your child’s innocence for later memories. Child pornography is a criminal and horrific act photographed for the perverted pleasures of collectors; these photos are actual crime scene photos. They are actual crimes being committed as the photos are being taken.
Something I became aware of while doing research is that there are approximately 100,000 unaccounted sex offenders nationwide. There also seems to be a real hole in the system that leans heavily on sex offenders self-policing themselves to follow an honor system of reporting their whereabouts when released. Moreover, adding insult to injury, there seems to be a catch-22. Those who demand stiff mandatory minimum sentencing with no parole, similar to federal sentencing guidelines, by doing so, are met with the possibility of pushing more sex cases to trial. The catch is in pushing more sex cases to trial, exposes assaulted scared children to take the stand. Many of these children do not communicate well and may open the possibility for an acquittal.
Statistics show the recidivism for sex offenders is very high, so there needs to be a vigilant watch over these released sex offenders. Moreover, the watching over these sex offenders needs to be eyeball-to-eyeball, and not rely on the integrity of the sex offender to follow an honor system.
Derek believes it comes down to how we educate others, including judges with dispensing mandatory sentences. Moreover, the importance of being consistent, and how we manage released sex offenders and proper sentencing will be more effective. One of the issues with inconsistency is that sex offenders are aware that some states are more lenient than others and will migrate to those that are more lenient.
Check out Bill’s post, he covers in more detail about the Adam Walsh Act that Derek mentions as one of the recent laws, which will help in keeping things consistent across all states. States need to be compliant with the Adam Walsh Act, but have failed to do so. The pressing question perplexing officials, are not knowing what the standards are that need to be met in order to be compliant.
Too often, the sentence does not meet the crime for such heinous acts committed against children. Sex offenders need to be treated differently and with more consistency. Think about it for a moment, an incarcerated violent sex offender is removed from the community so as not to have any chance of repeating his or her violent sexual crime. Ask yourself what level of treatment is provided in prison that would rehabilitate that level of deviant behavior, a mental sickness, which would assure you they are capable of suppressing their violent sexual tendencies.
If anyone really wants to make a difference contact your Senator and/or Congressman and tell them to fund law enforcement involved with fighting crimes committed against children.
Derek feels one of the more effective ways of keeping your children safe is to be involved with your children. We need to know what are kids are doing when they are out playing or home on the Internet. Derek is an advocate for monitoring your child’s online activities. Derek pointed out the advantage of software that is capable of knowing your child’s current and past whereabouts online at any time. Good competent software will provide real time tracking of all online activities and notify you immediately of any breech in the rules you have implemented. Not only will a good monitoring program know every move of your child’s activity, but also the activity of anyone contacting your child.
The other step parents can do is become knowledgeable about the local offenders in their community. Visit your local law enforcement and ask those who deal with offenders if there is anyone in their community they should be mindful of and safeguard our children.
Obviously, Derek sees the same deer in the headlight that Bill and I witness all the time. That is parents; intuitively know there are dangers on the Internet that can drastically change their child’s life forever. For example, in the case with Derek’s brother-in-law, as well as both Bill’s brother and sister-in-laws, and that is they do not know what to watch out for to keep their children safe.
It is true what Bill followed up with, we are seldom self-promoters. However, in this case it is important to let everyone know, especially family members, about how to “Discover The 17 Steps To Better Internet Parenting”. This is two years of research and the most current and top issues that parents need to be mindful of if they want they want their children to enjoy the Internet safely.
david c ballard