HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - One of the main concerns around Halloween is criminals looking to prey on young children. And because of that, child safety advocates, like Dr. Jamie Freeny with Mental Health America Greater Houston, is urging parents to beware of registered sex offenders in the neighborhoods they're trick or treating through.
It's not something parents might think to check before heading out trick or treating, but safety experts say the Texas Public Sex offender Registry is a resource they should use in order to know what kind of people are in the areas that they're walking around in.
"Halloween is an opportunity for sex offenders to see children, to integrate with them to participate in Halloween, know what is in the area," said Dr. Jamie Freeny with Mental Health America Greater Houston.
No matter where you are in Houston or Harris County, you can access that sex offender map right in the palm of your hand. All you need to do is put in the address to where you're located and every registered sex offender in the vicinity will show up.
That sex offender map will show letters the letter "L," which is a level-one sex offender or low-danger threat. The letter "M," is level two, meaning that the person poses a moderate danger and may engage in sexual misconduct. And the letter "H," means this person poses a serious danger to the community and will continue to engage in sexual misconduct.
When you click on those letters, a photo of the offender shows up, and you can also see the crime that they committed.
"It's great that we have that resource, but it's more important that people utilize it," Freeny said.
She says knowing the names and faces of sex offenders in your community is critical, and it's not just about avoiding their houses, but also making sure they aren't on the street.
"They could be sitting in cars during this time, especially since they're not supposed to be participating in trick or treating," said Freeny.
Click here to view the Registered sex offender map.