ARKANSAS, USA — There are 767,000 registered sex offenders across the nation and 18,000 of those live in Arkansas. The data says that just under 600 registered sex offenders per 100,000 residents. This data comes from safehome.org.
Senior industry analyst, Corie Colliton says since there is no national sex offender registry, they’ve been compiling the data from each state since 2019.
"Arkansas does have a high number of child sex abuse victims per 100,000 minors in the state," she said. "It was higher than any other state. Almost three times the national average, so that could also be contributing to the number of sex offenders."
Their research also found that Arkansas has the highest rate of child sexual abuse reports in the nation with 254 cases per 100,000 children reported in 2020. This is more than triple the national rate.
At the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County, they say 929 children came to their center to receive services last year. Education specialist, Elizabeth Siebuhr says 47% of those kids came for sexual abuse allegations.
“We know that 95% of the kids that come to our center, they know their offender. It’s someone they know, it’s someone they love, it’s someone they trust,” she said.
She says the offender is often a family member, a family friend or an acquaintance.
“There are stranger occurrences but it’s not as common as people think which is the most scary part for parents, right because it’s someone they know as well and someone that they trust and unfortunately a lot of perpetrators will also not only groom the victim but groom that family as well,” she said.
The Arkansas Department of Public Safety has a feature on its website where you can search for registered sex offenders by address, city or zip code.
Siebuhr says the best way to prevent this abuse is by empowering kids and letting them know they can tell you if something like this happens. She says it’s important for parents to be very vigilant with who their children are around and to set boundaries.
“Making sure that if there is alone time that you have conversations with your kids, hey what did you all do, tell me about all of that because that’s where I would say, secret lies where a lot of offenders we’ll tell them, don’t tell your parents this is a secret. So, having conversations with your kids, we don’t keep secrets,” she said.
Arkansas also ranks the second-worst state in the number of rapes which is more than double the national rate.