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Retired probation officer offers tips for a safe trick-or-treating

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Saturday, thousands of children across Northeast Florida are expected to go trick-or-treating.

Although rules are in place to prevent the interaction between sex offenders and children, there are dangers parents need to be aware of.

Convicted sex offenders who are on probation will be prohibited from Halloween festivities such as handing out candy to children. They won’t even be allowed to set up Halloween decorations.

LINK: Still trick-or-treating this year? Check your route for sex offenders

But if they’re no longer on probation, that changes.

Shirly Roberts is a retired Florida probation officer who for more than 20-years monitored sex offenders and sexual predators who were on probation. She says that although sex offenders are prohibited from having contact with children on Halloween, there are limits that every parent should know.

“If they are on sex offender probation, and that probation terminates in ten years, they don’t have to be home at 10 p.m. at night. They go and come as they want," Roberts said. “Most parents don’t know that.”

When asked for ways to keep children safe, Roberts suggested:

“Number one, the parents need to be with their child. No older sister or brother. And they need to know the people of the house they are going to," she said.

Roberts says parents who have already gone online and checked the sex offender registry will know who in their neighborhood is a convicted sex offender, but she worries about the neighbor who hasn’t been caught and remains under the radar by appearing normal.

“And they are likeable. And they are deceptive," Roberts said.

It’s worth mentioning that people who are convicted as sexual predators will remain on probation for the rest of their lives.

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