Most Chicago Safe Passage Routes For Children Are Peppered With Sex Offenders, Report Says

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 28:  Students walk along a designated Safe Passage route to Laura Ward Elementary School on the Westside
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 28: Students walk along a designated Safe Passage route to Laura Ward Elementary School on the Westside on August 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Safe Passage program was started because parents were worried about their childrens safety while they walked to school across gang boundaries after the city closed 49 elementary schools and moved the students to nearby schools. Police, city workers and Chicago Public Schools personnel are posted along the route to provide 'safe passage' for the students. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Children walking along Chicago’s safe passage routes not only have to worry about local gang violence, they also have to worry about dodging registered sex offenders.

A recently released report by the Chicago Sun-Times found that registered sex offenders inhabit a vast majority safe passage routes walked by Chicago children. According to data the newspaper obtained from the Illinois State Police sex offender registry, there are sex offenders living along or within one block of 48 out of 53 newly created safe passage routes.

Chicago Public School officials and the Chicago Police Department designed 53 new safe passage routes for children after closing nearly 50 schools over the summer. The safe passage routes -- which are lined with safe passage workers and police officers -- are designed to help children stay out of harm’s way while walking to school.

The routes have been criticized for their proximities to violent and gang-ridden areas. There was a shooting on one safety route just 12 hours before the first day of school in late August. Fortunately, no children were involved.

Now parents are upset that their children may also be threatened by sexual predators. “You never know if they are looking out the window, from their car, from a garage,” parent DeErica Munuz complained to the Sun-Times.

But Chicago Police Department spokesman Adam Collins noted that safety precautions have been taken. “[Chicago Police] officers visited every sex offender who was on or near a route to make sure they were in compliance with the law,” Collins told the outlet. “And where they weren’t, alerts were issued and arrests would be made.”

In September, CBS Chicago also revealed that shelters for child sex offenders are located along two safety routes.

“I didn’t know that the sex offenders were there,” parent Lisa Jones, whose daughter walks by a shelter on her way to school, told the outlet. “I just thought that was just a shelter for the homeless and, wow, I did not know that.”

While a CPS representative told the outlet that each shelter only housed one child sex offender, shelter officials put that number at 50.



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