After the murder confessions of two convicted sex offenders in Florida, lawmakers there are working on harsher punishments for sex offenders. Parents across the nation are now wondering what can be done to keep their children safe.
Two registered sex offenders in Florida are charged with the murder of two young girls just weeks apart. It's calling into question the system of registering and tracking sex offenders.
" A registered sex offender living in a community has the responsibilities of being registered, however there isn't a whole lot that can be done to constantly watch those individuals," said Brazos County Sheriff, Chris Kirk.
He says a proposal before Florida legislators would change that. Lawmakers there want longer prison sentences for first time sex offenders.
The Florida house has passed the Jessica Lunsford Act which would set a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison for people who molest children under the age of 12. And if offenders serve less than life, they would be required to wear a device that would allow authorities to track their every move.
Sheriff Kirk says a similar proposal, if considered in Texas, would help when doing registered sex offender compliance checks. Another defense is for parents to talk to their children about potential dangers if a sex offender lives in their area.
Dr. Adam Saenz is a school psychologist for Bryan I.S.D. He says parents need to keep a watchful eye over their children.
" As parents we want to make sure that we're aware of the adults our children are interacting with on a regular basis," said Dr. Saenz.
" It's a very fine balance there. You don't want to reach the point of hysteria within a family or children so that they feel like they can't even go outside but at the same time they have to realize that there is a risk," said Sheriff Kirk
Dr. Saenz says it's especially important for parents to talk to younger children about inappropriate sexual contact.
" It's always helpful for parents to speak in general terms about what's appropriate and inappropriate touch and who are examples of adults that they can talk to," said Dr. Saenz.
If Florida lawmakers approve the proposal, it could lay the groundwork for other states to do the same.