Protecting Children

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The Family Watchdog Web site is an interactive site that allows you to create a map of registered sex offenders and other felons who live or work near your home.

It’s similar to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Web site that lists registered sex offenders and predators, but the Watchdog site also lets you sign up for a free e-mail notification if an offender moves to within a mile of your home.

Bob Sparks with the Florida Attorney General’s Office says it’s a valuable service.

"As the credit card commercial goes, priceless. It’s piece of mind, of knowing that trouble may be in your neighborhood and parents can better protect their children by knowing."

The attorney general’s office put a link to the Family Watchdog site from its own homepage,, to encourage parents to check it out.

Once you create a map of offenders who live near you, you can click on the color coded boxes to see a mug shot of the offender, his or her address and the offense of which he or she was convicted.

The Web site also posts any current amber alerts and offers safety tips. The attorney general’s office hopes it gets families talking about safety issues.

“It’s a dangerous world out there, I’m sorry to say, but we’re trying to help empower parents to protect their children.”

An e-mail obviously won’t take the place of parental supervision, but it can at least serve as a warning. The Family Watchdog is a commercially run Web site that offers safety products for sale, but the e-mail notification is free.