Today, the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas posted a link to a news story that suggests the nation should boycott McDonalds. I was like, oh man, what have they done this time?

I read Fast Food Nation. I watched SuperSize Me. I've seen their bun-as-lactating boob ad. I've read about the lawsuit over the beef fat in their vegetarian fries. I've survived wicked McIndigestion on the New Jersey turnpike on long drives down to DC. Is there yet another reason to start weaning ourselves off the artery-clogging scrumptiousness (and magical hangover-helping properties) of Mickey D's?

Allegedly McDonald's is knowingly, willingly, joyously, hiring sex offenders to work the counters. At least according to Nashville's WTVF.

(A hint to the NewsChannel 5 Investigative Team: If you have a real story about real pedophiles working the counters, don't lead off with a quote from an employee who was convicted of having sex with a 17 year-old when he was 21. Lumping BS statutory rape charges in with actual sexual predators does your entire story a disservice.)

So while it seems that there are a whole lot of incidences around the country (holy crap, what is up with Indiana and Lousiana?) that support the allegation, it begs the question--what's to be done about it?

Contacting McDonalds seems like a start, but is a full-out boycott of the company really going to fix the problem? Isn't it easy for those convicts to just fill out applications over at Burger King or Chuck E Cheese or Toys R Us instead?

Perhaps what we need is stricter legislation about the employment of sex offenders, more specifics about where they can and can't work, and how businesses that put employees in contact with children need to enact background checks on all applicants. I want to do something that goes beyond me just calling a complaint line, getting a "Thanks so much for your call! Have a McNice day!" on the other end, and feeling all peachy because I've "done something." I'd rather figure out what might actually make some impact.



Edited to add: To be clear, I think low-risk ex cons deserve second chances if all signs point to "no worries with this guy." I'd like to distinguish them from vile repeat offenders who demonstrate an inability to be rehabilitated.


Blogger Mel said...

I got nothin'. Sorry, the most I can tell you is that my little family seldom if ever dines at McD's, so our little unit voting with our pocketbook wouldn't make a Billy-damn worth of difference. However, if enough families did do this, I think it might get the message across and quick.
Legislation, while a nice idea, tends to make me uncomfortable in any case; I'm one of those crazy weirdos that doesn't like it when people get to messing with the Constitution too much. It's already so bent out of shape and hammered into a myriad new ones that it's almost unrecognizable.

5/23/06, 6:49 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

i would be surprised ass all hell to see a boycott of a company that large work. it would be like trying to boycott disneyland. good luck.

5/23/06, 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadness all around. I used to work at McDonald's when I was a young teenager, and I can say that every older person who worked with me was McCreeplor.

Because, honestly, I don't think a whole lot of hardworking, clean-slate adults would choose to work at McDonald's if they could help it.

5/23/06, 7:17 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Binky-I'm with you. I'm all about civil liberties, rehab and second chances; although it gets harder when you're talking about predators in your own neighborhood. Damn, grey areas!

Mel-I would never recommend changing the constitution for this. But perhaps regular old federal laws about corporate responsibility vis a vis children--same as they have regulations governing food labeling and kids in toy ads and television that's on before 8pm.

Again: Hm.

5/23/06, 7:26 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Around here most if not all enployees at McDonalds can't even speak english. Not that this has anything to do with the boycott or sex offenders. I don't think sex offenders should work anywhere near kids. However, I do think that sex offenders needs to be defined better. My brother had a girlfriend at 18 who's parents tried to turn him in on his birthday. Their daughter was 17. And I know this happens. And just because one guy lied on his application, does not mean I will never eat tasty fries or McFlurries again. Nor does it mean McDOnalds hires all sex offenders. Really they are going way to far in boycotting them.

5/23/06, 7:28 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I did one of those online searches recently to find out if any sex offenders live anywhere near us, and it turned up a BUNCH of statutory rape guys (we're in a college town). I don't think those 20-year-olds who had sex with a consenting 16-year-old should be necessarily included with, say, the guys who fondle 8-year-olds or who violently kidnap and rape.

And I don't know what the solution is here. Sex offenders have gotta work somewhere. For some of them, fast food jobs might be the best/only work they can get.

5/23/06, 8:46 PM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

OK: What if I had to boycott Mc D onald's what would I feed my kids on the sly? :)
Seriously, Sex Offenders is another issue entirey....I am all for a person being able to be rehabilitated..

5/23/06, 9:28 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Hmm, indeed.

I got nothing else.

5/23/06, 9:34 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Ew, didn't read about that. I agree though - boycotting the joint is not going to do anything to help the situation.

5/23/06, 10:09 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

OK, I'm going to let you all in on a secret. This is because until 6 months ago , I managed the central registry for abuse and neglect for my STATE.

There are two types of background checks. Criminal (which generally only is good in the state in which you reside - even the NCIC ones are only as good as the states who participate) and the states central registry. Central registry contains the Child Protective investigation findings, so these are the acts of violence/neglect which are not prosecuted as Criminal. This is because the perp's are usually family members or otherwise in the child's home. In my state, the findings stay on for 7 years and are then expunged.

So, it is feasible to have a person rape his sister and be On central registry, but never have a criminal conviction. OR have several criminal convictions prior to age 17, which never appear on a criminal records check.

Sadly, the ones who get caught? They aren't the vast majority of perp's of sexual violence against children.

I don't want to sound alarmist, but my best advice is to Know who you are allowing your children to be around. If your gut says No, then No. My other big thing was to ALWAYS have Emily wear leggings or bike shorts under her dresses - not just tights. I read too many abuse reports which started with someone sitting on a lap with only underwear on under their dresses. One more layer can give the child time to yell.

Dear Lord, I sound creepy. Sorry. I just know that the ones on the list? They're the stupid ones. The real offenders? Very hard to catch. They tend to go for family members or friends which makes them MUCH harder to get.

5/23/06, 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh God... I can't even process that last comment. I hate having to think about these things.

As far as McDonalds goes though.. and trust me, I like me some cheeseburgers and fries to soak up the extra vodka in my tummy some mornings (the hubby and I used to drive approximately one tenth of a mile through the drive thru just to get McDonalds soda -- the wonderful fountain soda -- nothing like it when you are a little parched), we no longer eat it. What did that? A daughter with severe food allergies. We had been allowing her to have it until McDonalds was forced to disclose that they were including natural dairy flavorings in their french fries. After basically lying about it til then. So, no more b/c the little lady is severely allergic to dairy.

Madeline still talks about how we don't go to McD's anymore because they were not telling us the truth -- something we can't afford to risk.

5/23/06, 10:28 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

I agree with you on that lead quote, it's not compelling to support the claim. 21 and 17 don't scare me.
I'm also with you on the fact that it needs to be handled with more than a boycott or a filed complaint. Harsher laws and strict guidelines need to go into effect.

5/23/06, 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm all for second chances, particularly when the details of their crime could possibly include statutory rape and other lesser offenses.

And I'm not sure boycotting them is the best response. Plus, where are the reports coming from Indiana? Louisiana? Might as well be Mississippi.


5/23/06, 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in the Hinterland, we use the drive through. This prevents actual exposure to the counter types.


5/23/06, 11:25 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Its'a concern of course. I don't like the idea of a Paul Pedophile serving my kid a happy anything.

But it's also a bit of social buggaboo. What else are they going to do? There aren't many places that are going to hire them, and they have to make a living, obviously. So either they work at low paying menial jobs, or they become a drain on our welfare system.

Maybe we could create a self-contained pehophile commune? That would solve the problem of them supporting themselves and where they live, since nobody wants them in their neighborhood, me included.

I'm not being facetious. I've thought about this a lot. I don't know what else we can do except put them all to death. It's funny though...it's okay to shun them, torment them and starve them, but talk about putting them to death and all of a sudden the "inhumane" card is played.

Interesting debate in there. Hope you don't mind me playing devil's advocate.

5/23/06, 11:28 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

What they said. Isn't it better they be at a McDonalds than in a school? And if we don't even think they are deserving of a job flipping burgers, then maybe the real solution is to enact tougher sentencing laws. If we're not ready to do that, then shouldn't they be allowed to work?

5/23/06, 11:51 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

I have to say that I didn't need to hear about the sex offenders to stop going to McDonalds. I decided to boycott the second I saw the McBoob ad. Plus, I happen to be vegetarian AND I work in the nutrition field so it's hard for me to walk into a McDonalds anyway.

(Though I have to admit their fries ARE tasty.)

5/23/06, 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We gave up McD's last year. It tastes great but we always felt so gross after eating there!

I am not sure where I stand on the sex offender stance...Where do we want them to work???

5/24/06, 12:25 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Dawn- THANK YOU for this info! This was just the kind of thing I was hoping to learn with a post like this. I just knew that one of you would have some inside track/alternate perspective about this difficult issue.

5/24/06, 12:38 AM  
Blogger the mystic said...

I never go to McDonalds anyway unless I'm travelling and have no other choice.

But I'm confused. Do people usually drop their kids off at McDonalds? I would think McDonalds is a fairly benign place for an (hopefully) ex-sex offender to work.

I really don't consider this boycott-worthy, but maybe I'm missing something.

5/24/06, 1:04 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

PI Mom: It really is best to read the article, which details
-someone pulling a 3 year-old into a restroom and molesting him
-managers fondling teen boys who work for them
-the sexual assault of a 16 year old girl by an employer, the guy served time, then was rehired by another franchise.

However I think they're making a lot out of a little (ie a small market cub reporter with his eye on a Peabody), judging from the fact they had to go back to '89 to find the first case cited here.

Even so, I'm interested in the greater issue of how and where sex offenders are able to work. It's less about McD's per se.

5/24/06, 1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree...boycotting mcdonald's is not enough (HEY I ADMIT I LOVE THe FRIES) there has to do with parenting...its the root!

5/24/06, 3:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to read further on this. I'd like some details before formulating any opinions. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

But a boycott in this house would never fly. My girls love their occasional Happy Meal, and I'm with mrsmogul- I love me some McFries...

5/24/06, 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most pedophiles have been abused themselves. They are seriously prone to recidivism, especially if the abuse occured an an early age. I think the best defense we have is to talk to our kids about unwanted advances, to create a relationship where they can tell you about anything that goes awry, and by keeping in mind that most sexual abuse is committed by people the children know. Now, that freaks me out.

I agree that boycotts seldom work. Besides, they punish innocent people. I don't have an answer, but I appreciate your thoughtful response to this awfulness.

5/24/06, 7:09 AM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Fssstaaah ... That sound is me opening a can of worms. I apologize in advance.

I think the problem is one that is NEVER going to be solved through punative means and ostracization. I think this is a proclivity that may be a form of mental illness and will not disappear. These people are frightening to parents, and the not-in-my-neighborhood thinking isn't helping.

Of course we shouldn't give them the jobs as babysitters and teachers, but unless we plan to change the laws to reflect the problem ... that recitivism is likely because of mental defect ... we will always be a reactionary, fearful society.

I think you make lots-a sense.

5/24/06, 7:55 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What a coincidence. My post for today was about me being called a pedophile. Not because I actually am, or because I've ever worked for McD. Very creepy.

5/24/06, 8:34 AM  
Blogger Movin Mom said...

Why don't we just call Dateline....They seem to have that whole pedophile thing under control.

They can move from the home sting to a McDonalds Sting!!

It is my experience that anyone can make the mistake of hiring a pedophile. I understand that the question here is that McD's is aware of doing it BUT no matter what ,I as my children's parent take every precautionary measure when we are out. In my mind EVERY SINGLE male or female has a possibility of being a predator. Do you know how many times I have sat at a McDonalds and watched Mom's just let their 5 or 6 year olds run to the bathroom by themselves? Many times there will be employees in there as well cleaning it. I also have checked the offender list and I check it often. There is a young man on our list not far from where I live that actually looks every bit the part of a predator. Coke bottle glasses etc... He was taken in for young boys and child pornography. I showed my kids his picture and weeks later found out he was an usher at our church. So one evening we walked in and there he was standing near the door...I could not even pay attention because in one hour long service I must have seen 15 kids (boys) whose parents just let them get up and go to the bathroom by themselves. Each and every child had to walk past this guy! I even watch out for my 14 year old who is 5'10 160 pounds when he gets up to go. You have to be cautious...it only takes one time to for someone t harm your child and they will have to carry that with them for life.

5/24/06, 8:43 AM  
Blogger zinalasvegas said...

Ouch--very thorny issue and one that cannot be divided into black and white--it's all gray. If we don't offer opportunities to offenders what becomes of them? If we make pariahs out of them how much are we implicit in their further crimes? We can't be selective in the criminals we want to help and those that we don't. That's my High Moral Ground position and I believe it is my position as a mother too. (I hope.)

My 8 year old watched "Super Size Me" and began his own boycott of McDs. Maybe we should get Elmo to make a version of it to reach the 4 and under crowd...

Thanks always for the food for thought...

5/24/06, 8:45 AM  
Blogger Perstephone said...

I agree that there should be a designation between sexual assault and some 21 year old with a 17 year old girl friend.

Many of my friends in the mental health field agree that sexual offenders very rarely are rehabilitated. There is something about that desire that is tough to reach. That's why this is such a difficult issue to address. I think that policy/law needs to change and that things need to be stricter for sex offenders (non stat rape). In my opinion, they should be required to have therapy and be under living/working requirements that protect us while addressing the criminal's needs.

Personally, I think that when you break the law in such a painful way for others, or if you have a mental problem that causes you to be unable to control yourself, you really should not be held to the same civil standards as the rest of us. It isn't fair for us or the offender either. It isn't that I necessarily want to take something away from these people. But I think that the construct that is their reality is different and we need to respond differently in order to make a difference. Any of that drivel make sense? Probably not. It's early.

5/24/06, 9:00 AM  
Blogger macboudica said...

I am just as frightened by sexual predators harming my children as anyone else, and they probably shouldn't be working at McDonald's where there are a bunch of children around at any given time. That being said, what we do need to remember is that sexual predators of children tend to "groom" the children over time. Most of the time, the predator develops a relationship with the child where they take more and more liberties because they have spent time with the child and the child trusts them. The predator is someone who has befriended the child and is someone usually close to the child's family in some way who has had opportunity to spend a lot of time alone with the child. It is more likely a child will be attacked by a friend of the family or family member than a random burger flipper at McDonald's. That is what is especially terrible about the crime: somone the child knows and trusts violates that trust and the child.

5/24/06, 9:29 AM  
Blogger Miguelita said...

I think that people who worry about their kids getting molested at McDonalds are spending W A Y too much time at McDonalds.

As for the teen workers, they need to know what their rights are what to do if they ever feel violated. But that goes with any place they would work.

Boycotts wont work for this problem. But for childhood obesity?- now there's where a McDonalds boycott would make some headway.

5/24/06, 9:34 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

A thorny issue for sure. Where does one draw the line and how does one determine rehabilitation and the right to privacy? Before I was a mom, I'd be arguing with you loudly about that but now that I am. I have to say I am all for regulations to see child-sex-offenders never come within 2 feet of my son.

5/24/06, 10:23 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

The previous comments pretty much sum up the warring factions in my head about ostracism versus the risk of alienating these people to the point where they perpetuate further crimes versus that STAY AWAY FROM MY SON mother in me. I don't want to repeat many already well-thought out comments. It's definitely a gray area, and I think movin'mom said it best in just being a conscious parent who knows who their children are around AT ALL TIMES. Obviously, it's insidious and good parents have children who fall prey to these sick people, but knowledge is power. Teaching our kids to recognize inappropriateness is a huge step in helping keep them safe.

Thanks for the thoughts.

5/24/06, 11:35 AM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I started writing a comment last night about this but then I didn't like it, so I erased it. I agree with you 100% as far as the sex offender thing goes. And as someone who has both worked in a prison that housed sex offenders and also known SOs that were never prosecuted at all, I could go on and on about this complicated subject, but I don't want to take up all the comment space. But your post got me thinking about knee-jerk boycott campaigns. I think truly organized, meaningful boycotts can be effective, but it seems like the tool has been used so much and for so many reasons that it seems to have been really watered down. Especially in this case. And I hate to say it, but I'm more worried about such incidents happening in playgrounds, churches, and other seemingly "safe" and child-friendly venues.

5/24/06, 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Jess just above me stated what my first reaction to the article was: a knee-jerk reaction boycott. Not to say that the issue of sex offenders being employed in establishments frequented by children should be minimized, but to completely boycott one huge company? There has been no comparative analysis here, that I could tell -- what if Wendy's actually has a worse problem?

I don't want to be all, "let's blame the media" because that seems like a knee-jerk reaction of the other extreme. But I think it's important for everyone to do more research than just considering one article when taking on a full-scale challenge or possible boycott of a company. You're right on, Sweatpantsmom, by wanting to look into the issue more, and Mom101 -- your statement on considering alternative approaches to the problem seems like a real way to tackle the problem.

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of fast food (though I recognize it's a necessary evil on road trips and PMS craving days when I NEED MY SALTY FRIES DAMMIT!), so the potential boycott doesn't disturb me from that perspective, lest you think I wouldn't be able to give up my Big Ass McBurgers. :-)

5/24/06, 4:07 PM  
Blogger the mystic said...

Okay, sorry, I was missing something. I should have read the articles first.

What about the possibility that McDonalds can't find (or doesn't want to find) decent workers (who aren't teenagers) because they don't pay a decent wage? To me, that's something that is boycott worthy.


But I'm over the top protective in that way, so maybe that's just me.

No easy answers to these kinds of dilemmas.

5/24/06, 4:30 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

PIM: yes, agree with you and others here who suggest that there are farrrrrrr more reasons to boycott them than this. Boycotts should only happen if there's a pervasive history of deliberate actions that hurt others. Like, say...ummmm... WalMart?

5/24/06, 5:30 PM  
Blogger doggerelblogger said...

Personally, if you're interested in your health and the health of your children, I would imagine you're pretty much boycotting McDonald's anyway. A person who doesn't want to end up overweight (all it takes is gaining 2-3 lbs a year for 10 years) should not eat a single meal containing over 1800 calories more than once or twice a year.

That's half a pound, people.

5/25/06, 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McDonald's is how I potty-trained my daughter, and it's good for other bribes too. I can't do a boycott; but I do watch my children like a hawk when I'm anywhere.

As far as second chances? I honestly don't believe individuals convicted of molesting young children should be given second chances. My sister works with sex offenders who have been released and usually they end up going back to jail eventually. Stat. rape is one thing; child molestation/rape is entirely another.

When they are given second chances though, there are plenty of places for them to work without having interaction with children: warehouses, back stock rooms at stores and distribution facilities, office cleaning crews, etc. etc. I recruit in the logistics industry and there are tons of jobs like that available on a regular basis and they usually pay better than your average fast food job.

5/25/06, 2:29 PM  
Blogger John said...


I wish I hadn't sent my friend's little brother, age 16, to get me french fries from McDonald's today.


5/26/06, 2:49 AM  
Blogger John said...

Slash I just looked at the map of predators [ps...so cheesy to use an 'M' to mark the sexual predator spot]...

Yes, Louisiana and Indiana are fucked up...but what if you were from Tennessee, Florida, Colorado or any of the other places with just one 'M'. Wouldn't that suck having to look at that map and say 'Yup...see that M? That's me.'

Final note. I'm more worried about Alaska. They don't have a lot of people living there, yet they've got quite a few Ms. So per capita, does this mean Alaska is the dirtiest state we have?

5/26/06, 2:53 AM  

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