As a clinical psychologist, I believe your advice to "Protective Mom in the Midwest" was oversimplified. You told her she was right in not permitting her husband's brother, a registered sex offender, to visit the family during the holidays. She didn't want her 10-year-old daughter around him.
You have made the common mistake of seeing everyone who carries the "registered sex offender" label as alike. They are no more alike than are people who drink too much. Some alcoholics get drunk, angry and violent, but most do not. Some sex offenders act like Ted Bundy, but most do not.
Many do not directly injure anyone because they only download illegal sexual images. Some do not use force, threats or physical violence. I do not minimize what they do. They all have a mental illness and/or addiction and need intervention and treatment.
Mom and her husband should talk to the brother about what he did and what kind of rehabilitation has occurred. They can then make a better decision about a visit and what safety measures might be appropriate.
- Dr. William S. in Miami
DEAR DR. S.: Your point about lumping all sex offenders together is well-stated. Another reader pointed out that something like urinating outdoors could result in this classification. However, most readers agree with me that the safety of the 10-year-old must be the primary concern.