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Juvenile registration: ineffective and destructive

 

By Rebecca L. Fix . . . Sex offender registration policies were initially developed for adults with sexual offenses, but have recently been extended to include youth with sexual offenses as well. At first glance, sex offender registration and notification (hereafter referred to as SORN) may make us feel safer, produce relief knowing that these individuals are being punished.

However, many of us don’t realize that these practices don’t protect our children. Required registration of and notification about youth with illegal sexual behavior, in particular, has resulted in serious economic and psychological burdens at multiple levels, affecting not only the youth who have to register (e.g., increase in suicidal ideation), but also their families (e.g., judgment from others, loss of job), neighbors (e.g., devaluation of home value) and communities (e.g., stress levels, potential changes in reputation).

Mental health providers and child advocates like myself and colleagues at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse who have examined policies concerning sexual offending among youth know that SORN requirements stem from an ill-fitting classification system that has deleterious consequences.

Before I continue, it is important to address a question that may have entered your mind by now: “What is juvenile sex offender registration and notification?” This inappropriate downward extension of policies aimed at adults toward minors began when President George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. . . .

While the development of SORN was (and often is) believed to make communities safer, it not only fails to do so, but can also ruin individuals’ lives. Consider the case of Demetrius (name changed for confidentiality), who grew up in a rural area of a Southern state and was the star of his high school football and basketball teams. At 15, Demetrius was dating a girl, age 14. When her parents found out they had consensual sex, a rape charge was filed. Demetrius was sentenced to a juvenile correctional facility for sex offender treatment and was sentenced to lifetime sex offender registration.

After returning to his community following confinement, Demetrius was no longer welcome on his high school athletic teams, and anticipates he will not be admitted into college due to his inability to be scouted by college teams. In addition, his family has been impacted by his registration status. Demetrius and his mother are moving to a new town, as their community has ostracized them. Demetrius’ mother lost her friends once word spread about his legal difficulties, and they are no longer welcome in their church.

Another boy, who I will call Will, was a youth from a Midwestern state who had difficulties finding a girlfriend due to his awkward social nature. At age 17, he got his first date with a 17-year-old female. Not long into the relationship, he was feeling hopeful about taking things to the next level. Will and his new girlfriend consensually shared nude photographs of themselves via text.

One day at school, Will’s teacher confiscated his cellphone and found the images. Will was charged with possession of child pornography, was mandated to attend sex offender-specific treatment and was required to register as a sex offender. Once he was sentenced and placed on the registry, he was severely bullied by classmates, was dumped by his girlfriend and unable to get a job.

Not only does SORN often inaccurately categorize adolescentsas at high risk for sexual reoffending, there are substantial and widespread monetary costs linked with the implementation of SORN, incurred by governmental agencies and by individuals and organizations including schools. Beyond these consequences, placing children on a sex offender registry assigns them a label. Indeed, community members often have negative perceptions of individuals labeled as a sexual offender, as do legislators and even the youth with inappropriate sexual behavior themselves.

Generally, these false beliefs include that: 1) punishment is necessary and effective, 2) an individual will reoffend and 3) individuals who have engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior are dangerous. These concerns are unfounded, developing in the absence of evidence or empirical support.

Read the full article here.

 

This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Saddles 6 days, 12 hours ago.

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  • #31190 Reply

    Lovecraft

    This certainly applies to everyone not just juveniles although I am sure the younger you are the more difficult it is being registered since you yourself are a minor and you kinda have to be around minors on a normal basis.

  • #31204 Reply

    Saddles

    Sandy boy you did it again, you have another good article. I’m sort of getting impressed more and more with NARSOL and sure everybody has there opinions about this and that just like they have their opinions about marijuana laws that were back in the 60 and still today. Now marijuana is on the stock market, sort of funny isn’t it.

    This sex registration is going a bit too far when they want to put juvenile’s on the registry Its bad enough for the adults to handle some of this fictitious or man made law endeavor. Someone touching a breast walking down the hall of a junior high school or pinching someone on the * tush* or maybe brushing up against her or something of that nature, it can get all out of hand. Today its about money in a lot of this and they “law enforcement” want to brand anyone for something that appears out of the common norm of human nature.
    I am sure most of us on here were a bit rowdy during there high school years but placing juveniles on the sex registry and all that’s involved in it is going a bit too far. They are just kids.

    The stigma that channels one growing up into adulthood and old age is a hindrance and stigmatizes one over something that may appear to be something such as bullying or not playing fair.
    Sure those that protect and serve are suppose to protect and serve but many times they don’t think. Why do you think they are called crackers in certain circles. If one gives them a dose of the “word” they will fold like an Iron butterfly.
    Sure we all have our faults, I had my faults as a teenager. Even in elementary school, and actually boys didn’t like girls as girls were to “Susie home maker” as some might say. The psychology is traumatic for those that are involved in this fancy pant’s scheme. Kids sow their wild oats but to put them on a registry, they just might as well send them off to war as they did for those during the war to fight. Its getting so bad that maybe the whole USA needs to be on a registry or the USA should go back to biblical principals of the new testament or is it getting like Sodom and Gomorrah in a lot of this ordeal both adult and juvenile.

  • #31236 Reply

    Tim Lawver

    I am not sure why any individual would believe a Federal Government would care about an individual’s needs. Far from it, and our founders knew it. That is the number one reason to limit the power of national authority. When the founder’s fled England the did so because the King had a habit of making rules that only benefitted his authority with little thought about the impact upon the commoner. They hoped that a doctrine of SEPERATED POWERS, would limit the new national governments power to squash individual rights.

    The founders made a point of enumeration. To put to paper for ratification drawing just two levels, Federal and State. The day to day lives of individuals was left to the states to rule. We have let the FED way to far into the lives of our children. Indenture of children, like abortion kills their liberty, life chances, opportunities to grow through experience. Being listed online as his state does erases his\her privacy on a certain level. Can we say for sure that the information contained in the data base is secure? NO!. The FED is certainly using Byrne Grants as financial leverage against our children’s interest. Having made adults indentured servants is one thing, dooming a child unconscionable!

    Like the court said in Brown V Board, ” the distinction intolerable “.

  • #31245 Reply

    Saddles

    You know its a shame that people want to get juvenile’s on the registry. Sure there is a lot of good articles plus a lot of good comments on here that the team of NARSOL bring to one’s attention and I know myself I would hate to be on the registry as a juvenile as would be anybody at that age but one has to say where is our morals and country going today even government today.

    Andrew Jackson, to Lincoln to others have always strived for principals but now with this testing it sort of makes those in high places look out of place just like the sex offender if you really want to call it that. Defending truth is not setting one up for a fall so maybe I should be corrected on a lot of this issue to help others.

    Remember we were all kids once and teenagers but when someone gives people that are born carnal an opportunity to fall should we all go around and say the sky is falling or use some understanding.

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