DOJ estimates Atleast 89,000 Children on Sex Offender Registry

Children in Prison

Children in Prison

It has been long known that sex offenders are required to register if they are found guilty. This is part of the condition of their release from jail/prison, that they allow people to know where they are. Some people remain on the registry for the rest of their lives. The stereotypical image of a predator/sex offender on the registry is a older man that gives people the chills. However, this is not the case.

The age range of sex offenders range from 8 years old and upward, however due to laws in place, it has been implied that some children names are not placed on a public registry until they turn 18. Some of these children have different perceptions on what’s appropriate and what’s not.

“Anthony*, a 14-year-old autistic boy, was making awkward overtures to his crush. Other kids thought the courtship was cute until, according to his attorney, Nicole Pittman of Impact Justice , Anthony got frustrated and sent his crush a picture of his genitals. "Parents flipped out," VICE - “The Autistic Children Who Are Labeled as Sex Offenders

There are children on the sex offender registry for various reasons and some of them had to be registered because of lewd acts at the tender age of 10, 12, 14, 15. Department of Justice estimates that there are at least 89,000 children on the sex offender registry. In a Boston Review article called, “When Kids are Sex Offenders", Sally Maris cites some children who have faced similar struggles with the registry:

A 15-year-old girl was charged with manufacturing and disseminating child pornography after taking and posting nude photos of herself and is now facing registration for life

A now 28-year-old woman was charged with criminal sexual contact when she was 10 years old for "flashing" and simulating sex with her 8 and 5-year-old stepbrothers and is required to register until she is 35.

A thirteen year old girl had consensual sex with her 12 year old boyfriend and they are both facing being put on the registry for 25 years.

A boy had touched his sister’s private areas when he was 11 years old.  He is 32 years old and still struggling with the conviction because he has been forced to register for life.

Texas allow juvenile registration at 8-years old.   Massachusetts allows sex offender registration for kids as young as 7-years of age. In 2011, there were 639 children on Delaware’s sex offender registry, 55 of whom were under the age of 12.   In 2009, a study conducted by the Department of Justice discovered that nationwide, one in eight child sex offenders who committed crimes against other children was under the age of 12. -Registry Report

The national registry initially established in 2005 was called the “National Sex Offender Public Registry” and now is being called the “Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website” after a young woman who was kidnapped and later murdered in South Dakota by a sex offender who was registered in Minnesota.

NSOPW is the only U.S. government Website that links public state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries from one national search site. Parents, employers, and other concerned residents can utilize the Website’s search tool to identify location information on sex offenders residing, working, and attending school not only in their own neighborhoods but in other nearby states and communities. 

NSOPW’s advanced search tool provides information about sex offenders through a number of search options:

  • Search by name nationally or with an individual Jurisdiction

  • Search by address (if provided by Jurisdiction)

  • Search by zip code

  • Search by county (if provided by Jurisdiction)

  • Search by city/town (if provided by Jurisdiction)

NSOPW presents the most up-to-date information as provided by each Jurisdiction.

Now, the purpose of the NSOPW is to inform people of potentially dangerous individuals who have previously committed sex crimes. Some people are deserving  of this punishment due to their crimes, others really are not. Some are convicted of sex crimes at a very young age. Research has shown that there is a low recidivism rate for those that were put on the registry as a child. “Available research indicates that sex offenders, and particularly people who commit sex offenses as children, are among the least likely to reoffend. “(HRW)

Registries can also include “people who have committed offenses like public urination, indecent exposure (such as streaking across a college campus), and other more relatively innocuous offenses.” The Human Rights Watch report acknowledges the registration laws were actually created to protect people from violent criminals however this is not the case anymore. Laws were around before to protect the people but now what are they doing? 

No child is safe from making mistakes but which child will make a mistake that will land them on one of the most damaging registries for the rest of their lives? Imagine children not being able to go to the park with other children, not being able to go to the movies or to children-themed restaurants, not being able to go to school. That is just a small list of over 60 things that some states restrict sex offenders from doing. Those children have been robbed of their childhood before it even began. To whose fault? Theirs, or society’s expectations that children grow up faster than they do?