(KSNF/KODE) — It’s a statistical probability that you or someone you know has been, or will become, the victim of a sexual assault.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some kind of sexual assault in their lifetime. Another scary statistic – 67% of sexual assaults have victims under the age of 18, and almost two-thirds of all sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

Because these statistics are startling, there are ways to try and prevent becoming a victim of sexual assault. One method of prevention is to stay informed about who lives or works in your area. The U.S. Department of Justice has made this possible through the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). SORNA is a registration system for monitoring and tracking sex offenders following their release into the community.

Who has to register?

All 50 states require those convicted of certain sex crimes to register. Laws vary by state, but all are required to register within a certain time period after their release from custody. However, there are many perpetrators who do not register or keep their information updated. Any registry found online should be considered as a non-exhaustive list of sex offenders.

What if an offender does not register?

Failing to register as a sex offender is a federal crime. Federal crimes are offenses that specifically violate U.S. federal laws and are subjected to penalties, probation, community service or related programs, and imprisonment, often more severe than those imposed by state and local courts.

Those who believe any registrant information found online is incorrect or those who have information about non-compliant offenders are encouraged to contact their local and state law entities. For more information on how to make a report, you can follow this link here.

How likely are sex offenders to re-offend?

Recidivism rates are not true re-offense rates because of the secretive nature of sex crimes and due to the fact that few sexual offenses often go unreported. Also, the variation in the ways researchers calculate recidivism rates all contribute to the discrepancies of data. Most statistics are gathered from studies on those convicted of sexual and nonsexual crimes committed after their first offense.

A study published by the DOJ found that during a 3-year follow-up with a sample of sex offenders released from prison, there was a sexual recidivism rate of 5.3% during that time. Of the sample, 17.1% were rearrested for violent crimes, and 43% were arrested for a crime of any kind. 4 out of 10 sex offenders in the study were returned to prison within three years.

However, researchers widely agree that observed recidivism rates are underestimates of the true reoffense rates of sex offenders, according to the Department of Justice

How can I search sex offenders in my area?

The National Sex Offender Public Website lists all 50 U.S. states, territories, and Native tribes under U.S. jurisdiction. You are not required to fill out all the data boxes and can easily search just a city and a state. To see all registries follow this link here.

To see the registered offender list for Kansas, click here.

Through the hard work and sacrifice of parents who lost children to violent sex offenders, legislation was put into place to try and prevent these crimes. You can find the history of the sex offender registration legislation on the DOJ’s website.

Disclaimer: These registries are not exhaustive lists as some sex offenders fail to register, some were convicted prior to the statute that requires registration, and some have never been convicted. Don’t let a list give you a false sense of security because offenders of this nature are not always known to report agencies.