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New feature on Ohio sex offender registry

CINCINNATI (Larry Davis) -- A statewide agency worked to crack down on the problem of sex offenders who may try to contact children.

Officials with the Ohio attorney general's office unveiled a new feature on the electronic sex offender registry notification database, otherwise known as eSORN.

Starting Thursday, anyone can now input unfamiliar phone numbers, email addresses, social media screen names, and video game handles into the database to try to determine if they belong to a registered sex offender in Ohio.

Melissa Grabel, a mother, and her family were having a birthday party in Hamilton's Millikin Woods Park.  She said the link was a valuable tool.

"I'm kind of a snoop in a good way, I want to make sure my kids are protected and if I notice anything suspicious on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere it's nice to know I have a place to check and keep track of things," Grabel said.

Melissa's family had a close call several years ago.  A stranger tried to take her daughter out of school.  Brittany Jeffries believed he acquired information about her online.

"I apparently shared a little more than I thought and someone tried to have me come out the back door knowing the back door of the school is locked as soon as you walk out," said Jefferies.

Butler County Sheriff's chief deputy Anthony Dwyer said preventative tools such as the reverse look-up are valuable.  But parents need to pay attention to what their children are doing at all times.

"Everything helps," said Dwyer.  "That's one thing I can say about it so little things like this, that's great, but nothing replaces good parenting and that's where it has to start.  Parents have to be engaged with their kids and what they are doing online." 

The program will also help the state's sex offender task force monitor the nearly 18,000 registered sex offenders in the state of Ohio.


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