HOUSTON - A mother is leading a mission to make sure people know how many registered sex offenders live near children’s homes, schools and parks.
Volunteers with the group Parents Against Predators knocked on doors, then shocked parents and grandparents answering in the near northside.
“There are sexual predators around here,” said Juan Cortez, a volunteer.
“A lot of people in the community, I (would) say nine out of 10 don’t know,” said Sonia Parker, the group’s founder. “They don’t know.”
151 registered sex offenders live in the area’s zip code, 77009, according to Texas Department of Public Safety’s online registry.
A man convicted of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl lives across the street from Sherman Elementary School. The home even has a camera facing the playground. He is labeled “low risk” by Texas DPS. However, one of his neighbors told us in Spanish that he had no idea about the offender’s past.
Cortez recently discovered it, too. So he took his family’s children with him door-to-door to make them aware.
Parker leads volunteers on similar campaigns in neighborhoods around Houston every Thursday for eight years and counting.
“This is serious,” she said. “It’s serious, and it can happen to anybody’s family. Nobody’s family is exempt.”
Forty years ago, a relative molested Parker over and over again. She kept is secret for half her life. Her parents even died without knowing.
What keeps Parker going is protecting other children.
“It’s very hurtful,” she said. “I think about it, and even though I forgave the person, I still think about it because it happened to me, and I hid it for so long.”
She now reports all problems to Houston Police. City Hall, former Governor Rick Perry, even the Obama White House recognized and honored her work in the past.
What is most important to her, though, is keeping kids from living her nightmare.
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