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The Sex Offender Registry: Should Kids Be Required to Register?

October 31, 2017, on Sex Crimes |

When a defendant is convicted of certain sexual offenses, the defendant can be put onto a sex offender registry. Because of the profound impact that registration can have on a person’s life, anyone faced with charges for which registration could be required should consult with a Schenectady sex crime defense attorney for help right away in fighting against conviction. 

Registration as a sex offender means having to alert police to where you live, being restricted in where you can live and work, and having a record of past crimes publicly available so friends and neighbors can learn about the offense.  Being required to register can impact every aspect of your life, which can be devastating to adults. When a child is required to register, the consequences can be even worse.  As the Sacramento Bee recently detailed in an article about the registration of sex offenders, children do not belong on the sex offender registry. 

Why Kids Do Not Belong on the Sex Offender Registry

There is variation among the states on whether children should be required to register as sex offenders if convicted of a crime that would typically necessitate registration. The practice of forcing children to register as sex offenders dates back to 1986, when California was the first state to impose this requirement. At the time when the registration rules for children were first put into place, there was very little research available into why children commit sexual offenses and little was known about who these children were or the likelihood they would become re-offenders.

In the decades since states first began requiring child offenders to register as sex offenders, ample research has revealed that public safety is diminished when children are forced to register.  The risks of future child sexual abuse do not decline when child offenders are required to register, and young children who are put on the registry end up having their futures derailed.  There has been no evidence found to suggest that youth offenders will re-offend and commit further sex offenses. However, there is ample evidence showing that registration is very damaging to vulnerable young people. As many as one in five young people who were required to register as sex offenders attempt suicide.

Instead of making children register as sex offenders if they are convicted of crimes, money and effort should be redirected to providing evidence-based treatments to these young offenders.  California, which once led the way in making child offenders register, has taken a step now towards allowing child offenders to petition to have their names removed from the registry after 5-10 years, but this is just one small step in the right direction. States that make children register as sex offenders should re-evaluate the public policy goals served by this protocol. When evidence reveals that children would be better served by treatment than stigmatization, changes should be made.

Children who are accused of sex offenses can still face harsh consequences even when registration is not required. If your child is arrested and accused of a sexual offense, it is important to consult with a Schenectady sex crime defense attorney for help as soon as possible.

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