What’s the difference between a 17-year-old who touches a 13-year-old’s breast and a 34 year old creep who likes little girls?
Nothing. At least, not on the Sex Offender Registry.
The other night I was a guest on the blog radio show, “American’s Reality Check,”a show mostly devoted to sex offender registry issues. A guy called in who is on the list for fondling a 13-year-old when he was 17. Now he’s 34 but next to his name and current age it states his offense: “Indecency with a child.”
As if that’s still what he’s doing today.
So to the casual observer – or freaked out parent — it looks as if there is a middle-aged guy down the street who molests young girls.
Now, obviously: No one is in favor of grown-ups having sex with kids. But right now there are more than 600,000 people on the sex offender registries, many there for the sex they had as teens with other teens!
TO MAKE A PREDATOR
Say it again: People are on the registry for the sex they had as teens with teens. So rather than making our kids safe from predators, the registry is turning them into “predators.” It’s labeling them that! It could label your own sweet kid that, if he or she goes and has sex with someone a few years younger. Kids as young as 14 can find themselves on the registry for years – decades — and our rationale? It’s “for the sake of the children.”
But is it? The vast majority of abused children are molested by people they know (relatives, family friends). The need to protect kids from strangers is far less than the need to protect them from those they know and love.
A study just released by David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, found that adding more names to the sex offender list isn’t the best way to keep children safe from abuse. A much better way, his research determined, is to teach them how to identify dangerous situations and summon help.
Meantime, the chance of a young life being ruined by getting on that registry keeps growing.
Check out the website freestudents.blogspot.com. You’ll see pimply face after pimply face – all young men now branded as sex offenders for crimes like, well, Ricky’s. Ricky is a kid who was 16 when he had sex twice with a girl he thought was 15. Turns out she was 13. When this came to light, the cops arrested Ricky.
Now he’s on the sex offender registry for life, because he got labeled a “Tier 3 offender” – the most dangerous. His offense was classified as “aggravated and violent” because of the three year difference between him and the girl, not because of any actual violence.
Once you’re a registered sex offender, you can’t live near a school, a park or a day care center. You can’t work with kids. If you have a younger sibling at home, most states will make you move out. Finish your high school? Ha! Usually you’re not even allowed in the building. Get a job? Just try. (And we’re not even talking about the jail time many young “offenders” have to serve.)
So what is the alternative to a registry that’s like a great big dump filled with lots of once-horny teens gone grey and, among them, the occasional rapist?
How about a registry with JUST the rapists? Folks like Phillip Garrido, who allegedly abducted Jaycee Dugard. Maybe if cops didn’t have to keep checking on every guy who had sex as a high school senior with a freshman girlfriend, they could concentrate on the actual criminals out there. That way, all our kids would be safer.
Including the ones who have sex in their teens. — Lenore
For more info, check out this site, the Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network.