By Jessie Balmert
Concerned your child is chatting with a sex offender? There’s a new tool to help you check.
A new function on the Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification (eSORN) Database will allow parents to input phone numbers, email addresses, social media screen names and video game handles to check if they are linked to a registered sex offender, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced at a news conference Thursday.
If the information is linked to a registered sex offender, a screen will advise parents to contact the local sheriff’s office or the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, DeWine said. Specific information about the sex offender will not be listed, according to a news release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
From there, deputies can investigate whether sex offenders have violated the law by contacting children, DeWine said.
Sheriffs in Ohio’s 88 counties already collect detailed information about registered sex offenders, but now it will be available for the public to check.
“Our communication capabilities are better than ever before. We can talk on our smart phones, we can email people, we can post pictures and share our experiences through social media. But it’s that kind of access that can open the door for predators to have access to our children,” DeWine said.
Ohio joins seven other states that allow residents to investigate whether sex offenders are contacting their children electronically. The eSORN database contains nearly 18,000 people required to register as sex offenders after convictions for offenses from soliciting sex to rape.