California has aimed at making strives towards stricter child protection laws against potentially deviant sex offenses. Cities such as Westminster (City Ordinance 9.71) and Irvine have already followed the direction of the Orange County Ordinance (OCO), activated on Thursday, May 5, 2011 to create “child safety zones” in parks and harbors within the county, making it illegal for registered sex offenders to visit these destinations without written approval from the court (SFGate). The OCO (NO. 03-18-1 to 6) was proposed on April 5, 2011, where there was a unanimous vote from the Orange County Board of Supervisors for approval. Proposed by the Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (Fourth District), the adopted ordinance approves a misdemeanor arrest punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine upon failure to submit proof of written consent by the County Police Department. After a second reading of the proposed ordinance, the La Habra City Council voted unanimously on August 15, 2011 and on Monday September 19th approved a similar plan banning registered sex offenders (under code 290) from city park and playground zones (Orange County DA).
While the law intends to ease the concern of parents and guardians, it must be realized that majority of children in threat of sexual abuse are vulnerable to family and friends, more so than strangers. In fact ,90% of molesters abuse children within their own families, or children of familiarity. Only 10% of abusers target children that were complete strangers, undermining the effectiveness of ordinances these enacted ordinances. While unsettling to face the realities of sexual assault cases involving children, it must be realized that while seemingly comforting, these laws and limitations not only create a false sense of security, but also tend to target individuals who do not necessarily pose a threat to children. While the ordinance requires a ban on all individuals in violation of Penal Code 290, it is known that not all offenses, which require online registration, are targeted towards children. California Penal Code section 290 requires individuals convicted of certain crimes or under the court’s discretion to register as sex offenders. It is evident that the new ordinance can ease the concerns of parents, however, the question remains, is it fair to subject registered individuals to further discrimination? And is the ordinance actually effective or merely an illusion of security?