As I listened to Ted, I began feeling everything through him and seeing it through his eyes. Only a relatively small proportion of adolescents who experiment in risky or illegal activities develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior that persist into adulthood. Jacob attended a local university in Big Rapids, Michigan, but ended up dropping out. However, more recent clinical models emphasize that this retrospective logic has obscured important motivational, behavioral, and prognostic differences between youth sex offenders and adult sex offenders and has therefore overestimated the role of deviant sexual tendencies in people convicted of sex offenses as children. In February , approximately , individuals nationwide were listed on sex offender registries. Who are Youth Sex Offender Registrants?
Before joining Human Rights Watch, she worked as an attorney at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she specialized in and consulted nationally on child sexual assault cases and registries. The preference is for treatment, not registration, and most high-risk youth are placed in treatment programs with registration decisions deferred until they are released, at which point they may no longer be deemed high-risk. However, more recent clinical models emphasize that this retrospective logic has obscured important motivational, behavioral, and prognostic differences between youth sex offenders and adult sex offenders and has therefore overestimated the role of deviant sexual tendencies in people convicted of sex offenses as children. First, sex offender registries are focused on preventing recidivism, when instead the focus should be on deterring the first offense from ever happening. Accountability That Fits The harm that people convicted of sex offenses as children have caused to victims of sexual assault must be acknowledged, and justice often requires punishment. In , Stella A. Sex offender registries treat very different types of offenses and offenders in the same way. A Distinct and Varied Set of Behaviors The image of the adult sexual predator is a poor fit for the vast majority of children who commit sexual offenses. A family member or significant other was present for a portion of most of the interviews. Juveniles adjudicated delinquent for a sex offense in Kansas are also subject to registration for a long list of offenses including rape, indecent liberties with a child, criminal sodomy, indecent solicitation of a child, aggravated incest, electronic solicitation, and unlawful sexual relations. Victim fear, shame, or loyalty to the abuser can each contribute to the underreporting of sexual violence. Many consider suicide, and some succeed. In reality, however, this policy was based on a misconception: The overwhelming majority of the individuals interviewed for this report started registering when they were children under age The DOJ study did not examine how many of these incidents involved an adult or youth offender. While 24, incidents of sexual violence against children is a disturbing number, it may be an underestimate. According to a US Department of Justice DOJ study, an estimated , rapes and sexual assaults occurred in the United States in the most recent year for which data are available. The emotion provoked by the sexual abuse of a child is powerful—powerful enough to make many overlook the embedded false presumptions and misperceptions about risks of reoffending, especially with regard to children who have committed sexual offenses against other children. As a result, he was placed in a juvenile home. Only a relatively small proportion of adolescents who experiment in risky or illegal activities develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior that persist into adulthood. Many youth sex offenders never learn that they will have to register until after they accept a plea deal and often after they serve their time in prison or juvenile detention. Denise, a single mother of two boys, Troy age 15 and Ted age 12 , recalled the day Ted confided in her that he had been sexually abused by Troy: The effect sexual violence can have on survivors, their family members, and their communities can be harrowing. The children of youth sex offenders often cannot be dropped off at school by their parent. Some form of community notification for adult sex offenders has been present in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since With thousands of new registrants added each year, law enforcement is stymied in their attempt to focus on the most dangerous offenders. Federal and state laws on sex offender registration and notification fail to take into account relevant—indeed, fundamental—differences between children and adults.
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Two child sex offenders explain how they picked their targets
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