Youthful Sex Offenders

A posting at a blog called Classically Liberal, which apparently covers this topic with some regularity, draws attention to the criminalization of adolescent sex.

sex-offender-profile

Not long ago a curious adolescent or child, caught exploring, or playing doctor in the back yard, was given a talking-to, sent to bed early, and warned to not do it again—a warning most heeded for at least another few years, after which time warnings were useless. Today, it has been criminalized, and criminalized in a way far exceeding crimes of violence. A youth who has sex with another youth, even if voluntary, could well face legal sentences far worse than if they had killed their friend.

[…]

It takes so little for this happen to a child. A girl in school has oral sex with a boy in school. She becomes a sex offender for the rest of her life. Streaking a school event, as a practical joke, becomes a sex crime in the new America. Two kids “moon” a passerby and are incarcerated in jail as sex offenders, where they may well learn a lesson or two about rape. A teenager, who takes a sexy of photo of him, or herself, is paraded around the community as a “child pornographer” for the rest of his or her life. Two kids in the back seat of a car have fumbling sex. The law says one is an offender because the other is a “victim.” One week later, a birthday passes, and it is no longer a crime. One week’s difference and a life is ruined. In other cases an act that is legal on Monday is illegal on Tuesday because the older of the two turned one year older. That becomes enough to qualify him, or her, as an offender.

This is indeed a truly bizarre situation.  I understand the rationale behind and generally support statutory rape laws, which maintain that children lack the capacity to form consent.  It makes sense to prosecute 35-year-olds who have sex with 13-year-olds.  Not so much, though, 18-year-olds who have sex with 16-year-olds.  And it’s just insane to criminalize 14-year-olds having sex with other 14-year-olds.  Indeed, absent the use of force or other coercion, I’m at pains to understand how a child can commit sexual assault.

via Radley Balko and Andrew Sullivan

FILED UNDER: General, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brian Knapp says:

    This is quite disturbing indeed. But this is the sort of problem that will take teams of lawyers and very, very specific legislation to remedy it seems.

  2. Mr Evilwrench says:

    I think it’s the teams of lawyers and very specific legislation which have brought it about, but in response to our unrealistic notions that everyone can be kept safe from any harm at all times.

  3. odograph says:

    Some fraction of that curve must involve incest as well.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    Just because something is a crime doesn’t mean they’re doing jail time for it. In most states, if you are under 18, you are entering the juvenile system for analysis. There, the issue is more about the quality of home life.

    And yes, James, children under the age of 18 commit rape. I’m not smart enough to know what to do about violent crimes committed by those under 18, but I can’t say that it’s never appropriate to treat them as crimes.

  5. Furhead says:

    And then I happened upon CNN last night (I don’t usually watch the cable news anymore, I swear!) and they had some parents on. These parents had all their kids taken away from them while law enforcement investigated child pornography crimes. What heinous crime did they commit, you ask? Taking pictures of their naked toddlers in a bathtub.

    P.S. They were developed at Walmart, who alerted authorities. Of course, shopping at Walmart should also be a crime.

  6. Rick Almeida says:

    Just because something is a crime doesn’t mean they’re doing jail time for it. In most states, if you are under 18, you are entering the juvenile system for analysis. There, the issue is more about the quality of home life.

    Nevertheless, having a criminal conviction for a sex offense, even as a juvenile, can have severe and permanent consequences.

  7. This chart truly disturbs me – and not quite for the reasons brought out in your post, James (although those bother me, too).

    According to this chart, 7-10 year olds make up roughly 5% of those prosecuted for sex crimes.

    What the *HELL*? I’m sorry, but a 10 year old should only be run through our criminal justice system for the VERY worst of offenses (definitively deliberate, premeditated murder comes to mind). For almost anything else, it’s a freakin’ 10 year old. You punish him/her like you’d punish a 10 year old.

  8. odograph says:

    Can you eyeball it that well Russell? It’s the area under the curve that tells you the percent of cases.

    If 1 square is the under 10 year olds, and roughly 37 squares under the older group, then 1/37th or 2.7%

    That’s still a number high enough to be concerning.

  9. Steve Verdon says:

    PD,

    Are you familiar with the sex offender registries? Commit a sex crime you go on them. If you are Tier 1 you get take off after 15 years. Tier 2 and 3 you could be on for life. Even if there is no jail time, these children can be punished for a very, very long time.

    You’ve committed the very same “tough on law” bullshit that most people do when presented with this data. You point out that yes there really are 16 year old rapists….therefore we should treat a 16 year old girl as Tier 2 sex offender for “sexting” a nude picture of herself to a boy she likes? Should she really be hounded for years, possibly till she dies? Never have children, never live to close to a school, bus stop, play ground, church?

    Granted there the 16 year olds who rapes an 80 year old woman or sexually abuses an 8 year old, yes treat them like the monsters they are. Fine. But sexting? Really? Fifteen years being thought of as a pedophile? And if two 14 year olds are exploring their sexuality…child rapists? Each is raping the other? Really?

    Are you deliberately being obtuse and confusing the issue? Are you really saying this is all okay so long as it catches the real rapists who are under 18?

    Mr. Evilwrench,

    I think it’s the teams of lawyers and very specific legislation which have brought it about, but in response to our unrealistic notions that everyone can be kept safe from any harm at all times.

    Right! And to add to the irony the reason we have these laws is due to hysterical parents who wanted to protect their wee toddlers. Now they are becoming teenagers and are at risk of being labelled the very things the parents feared most. Now that’s irony. Someone call Alana Morrisette please.

    BTW, it really is hysteria. Most children are abused by someone they know, a parent, a relative, a friend of the family, a care giver, etc. “Stranger danger” is usually vastly over estimated by most parents. Of course, it doesn’t help that child abductions by strangers get the most press thus exacerbating the situation.

    Russell,

    According to this chart, 7-10 year olds make up roughly 5% of those prosecuted for sex crimes.

    But you see Russell they kissed a classmate, thought it was funny to show some friends their butt, or some other foolish thing that children do and learn from…well used to learn from, now we classify them as a sex offender for up to 15 years.

    And technically it is 5/1000 cases.

  10. odograph says:

    And technically it is 5/1000 cases.

    It looks like for specifically 7 year olds it is 5/1000

  11. Steve – yes, I misread the chart, I thought it was percent, but it is indeed 5 per 1000 cases, so it’s .5% instead of 5%. Still a number that’s *WAY* too high, in my opinion.

    Odo:

    “Can you eyeball it that well Russell? It’s the area under the curve that tells you the percent of cases.”

    No, it’s an “eyeballed guesstimate” – hence my use of the word “roughly.” The “area under the curve” isn’t correct, either, because this chart is merely a visual representation of the actual data – discrete data, I might add. To get an accurate number, you’d have to go back to the original data and sum up from each discrete data point.

    I was off by a factor of 10 because I misread the chart legend (as Steve pointed out), and my eyeball estimate was deliberately quite low – because even the low number is ridiculous.

    I also agree 100% with Steve that this is likely the result of small children being charged with sexual harassment. While I suppose it is, in theory, *possible* for a 10 year old to rape somebody, I seriously doubt that 0.7% of all rapists (yes, eyeballed from a single data point on that chart) are 10 years old.

  12. odograph says:

    Russell, what a wimp.

    You were wrong but lash out with an appeal to missing data.

    Of course it is the area under the curve. Maybe I have an advantage because in chemistry we used the area under the curve for gas chromatograph results to calculate component concentration? A gas chromatograph also generates a discrete measurement at a moment in time …

  13. PD Shaw says:

    Steve Verdon,

    I am opposed to sex offender registries. Period.

    I am opposed to the linked bloggers emotional essay style that scatters various real or fictitious scenarios to lead people to believe teen-aged consensual sex commonly results in imprisonment, facing “legal sentences far worse than if they had killed their friend.”

    I’m not conflating various degrees of concern, the linked blogger is.

  14. alkali says:

    @PD Shaw: And yes, James, children under the age of 18 commit rape. I’m not smart enough to know what to do about violent crimes committed by those under 18, but I can’t say that it’s never appropriate to treat them as crimes.

    This is addressed in the post: [A]bsent the use of force or other coercion, I’m at pains to understand how a child can commit sexual assault.

    I’d add that the fact that children can commit sexual assault makes it even more problematic that all underage “sex offenders” are lumped together.

  15. PD Shaw says:

    The study that is the basis of that chart does not include statutory rape or incest, absent force. It is basically the summation of four forcible sex offenses (forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling). Those classifications are distinct from the reporting category of nonforcible sex offenses (statutory rape and incest). “If no force was used or threatened and the victim was under the statutory age of consent, the crime should be classified as statutory rape.”

    The chart is also “as reported.” That doesn’t mean the report is accurate (particularly if the victim has to estimate the perp’s age), that a criminal investigation was opened, that an arrest was made, that charges were brought or that criminal convictions were achieved.

  16. Furhead says:

    Regardless of the actual numbers in that somewhat confusing graph, it appears that 14-year-olds are the biggest sex offenders. For what? Snapping bras?

  17. CLS says:

    The post by PD Shaw is false. This same post appears on every site that I’ve seen which mentions this story. The study does not exclude statutory offenses as Shaw claims. In my responses to Shaw’s claim I quote from the study where it specifically says they include cases where the person is unable to consent due to their youth. Since the study quite openly says that it includes these cases I can not explain the motivation of this person to go from site to site repeating this false claim.

    Shaw links to the report but doesn’t quote it. Merely pretends it says that statutory offenses are excluded. Here is what it says. In previous interactions with someone, who appears to be the Shaw person using other names on other sites, I wrote:

    We should not confuse legal definitions with common-sense definitions — the two often do not meet. You say the definitions in the report exclude all voluntary interaction. It defines sexual assault with an object (which can be a finger) as “where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth…” So it defines that on a statutory basis. Youths are deemed incapable of consent because they are youths. Therefore the interaction is defined as forcible. The chart does include the kind of cases I’m talking about.

    The report also defines “forcible fondling” as touching “for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; OR NOT FORCIBLY OR AGAINST THE PERSON’S WILL BECAUSE OF HIS/HER YOUTH…” Contrary to what you claimed the report you mention specifically makes clear that consensual acts are included on a statutory basis.

    So, even when told that the report says it includes statutory offenses, and when the report is quoted, this person continues to spread a false claim. Why?

    i would point out that the graph comes from the Justice Department not from the site where the article appeared.

  18. Billy says:

    PD Shaw = Owned.

  19. Steve Verdon says:

    I am opposed to the linked bloggers emotional essay style that scatters various real or fictitious scenarios to lead people to believe teen-aged consensual sex commonly results in imprisonment, facing “legal sentences far worse than if they had killed their friend.”

    Probably because all of them aren’t caught by idiot adults like cops, public school employees, and the like. Still according to the law many of sex offenders who have merely gotten away with it.

    And the other implication: just because it isn’t common means we shouldn’t worry about. Meh. Murder and rape are not common either, so lets just get rid of those laws too.

    Meh.

  20. PD Shaw says:

    I’ve not commented on this on any other site, so I don’t know what discussions are going on elsewhere.

    I will quote the study:

    The 1991 through 1996 NIBRS master files contain reports from law enforcement agencies in 12 States . . .. These reports were scanned to identify incidents of sexual assault. The FBI’s offense coding structure classifies sexual assault into four separate offense categories. From most to least serious, these crimes are forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling. If more than one of these offenses occurred, the most severe sexual charge was used to classify the sexual assault in the incident.

    So the study summarized reporting on four offenses, each of which are based on NIBRS definitions of forcible sex offenses. Those definitions expressly exclude statutory rape:

    Forcible rape (except “statutory rape”) The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity. If force was used or threatened, the crime should be classified as forcible rape regardless of the age of the victim. If no force was used or threatened and the victim was under the statutory age of consent, the crime should be classified as statutory rape.

    This is because the NIBRS system of coding by law enforcement segregates forcible and non-forcible sex crimes:

    19. Sex Offenses,Forcible
    – Forcible Rape (11A)
    – Forcible Sodomy (11B)
    – Sexual Assault With An Object (11C)
    – Forcible Fondling (11D)

    20. Sex Offenses, Nonforcible
    – Incest (36A)
    – Statutory Rape (37A)

    Offenses Reported in NIBRS

    The study does not include statutory rape. The study says so. The NIBRS coding specifically separates the two categories.

  21. Steve Verdon says:

    PD,

    Sorry, but two of those catagories would seem to include things like mutual masturbation between two teens, oral sex between two teens, and other activities that do not include vaginal or anal intercourse where teens are invovled. Hence your comment,

    Those classifications are distinct from the reporting category of nonforcible sex offenses (statutory rape and incest).–Link

    Is not entirely accurate. Nonforcible offenses include more than just incest and statutory rape as per the definitions in the docutment you linked.

  22. Steve Verdon says:

    BTW, this post summarizes much of the evidence the blog in the OP links too. Its enough for me to say there is a problem contrary to the statements of PD Shaw.

    In particular the case of Matthew Bandy is particularly galling. It is well past time to do away with immunity for prosecutors. Personally I’d like to see a 20 year period where prosecutors get absolutely no immunity at all. Let them get a taste of what it is like to be ground up and spit out by the legal system and then shit on by society.

  23. PD Shaw says:

    Steve Verdon:

    There is a difference in how the definitions are employed between rape and other sexual assaults. Statutory rape is nonforceable sexual intercourse that is illegal solely because of the statutory age requirement.

    The other sexual assaults are treated as forcible where consent is not given because of incapacity, whether from drugs, mental impairment, disability, or youth. If you look at the study, there are a lot of approx. 12 year olds sexually assaulting five year olds. That’s not a “category invented by the government” to criminalize sex; that’s a reflection of the reality that there exist biological impossibilities. Try to enforce a contract against a five year old.

    In any event, I stand by my statement for which I was called a liar:

    The study that is the basis of that chart does not include statutory rape or incest, absent force.

    Statutory rape is not included in that study or the chart and I, and no doubt many others, believed it was just from reading the link.

  24. PD Shaw says:

    To be constructive, what I think the study points to is that there is a lot of “violence,” on the youth end of sexual assaults and not a lot of sex. Boys are violent, they are violent in groups and they use violence for group initiation. When violence touches upon certain parts of the body it becomes a sexual assault. But it’s not necessarily sexually motivated. It’s the sexual motivation IMHO that creates the high recidivism rate on sex crimes. And it’s the recidivism rate for sex offenses that scare people into red letter laws.

    Which is an argument against red letter laws for youth, but I don’t like them for youth or adults.

  25. Our Paul says:

    My Pappy, who was able to mix scorn, love, and anger once bellowed across the dinner table:

    “Damn it, Our Paul, do not ever, ever, build your story on a single graph if you have not read the primary paper.”

    As I recall, the flowers in the center of the table actually wilted at his thunderous pronouncement…

    The paper in question originates from the National Center for Juvenile Justice, utilizing data from the FBI’s National Incidence Reporting System. The FBI classifies sexual assault into four groups: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling. The author takes this classification and examines them from a variety of perspectives such as the age of victim, age of offenders, location, relationship of offenders to victims, etc.

    The presented graph has diddly squat to do teen age sex (at least as I remember it) as the “sexual assault offender” that is graphed is the summation of these acts: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling. For those who are arguing about the graph, on page 8 of the linked report (pdf form) contains the primary data for the graph. Worth a peek, as well as some of the other graphs, which point to the fact that we are not dealing with the let’s play doctor and nurse meme, or the latest fad of sending one’s naked picture to their teen age paramour.

    To my mind, Classically Liberal has abstracted a graph, and come to a variety of conclusions that are truly nutso to the rational mind. The data deals with psycho/sexual pathology and not with Jack and Jill going up the hill to fetch a pail of water and playing if you show me yours, I will show you mine…

    Why exactly Dr. James Joiner decided to build a thread around Classically Liberal’s post I surely do not know. Perhaps, as I have posted in the past, only the Shadow knows!!!

  26. CLS says:

    Shaw and Our Paul, basically make the same point — that the chart does not include statutory offenses. Our Paul doesn’t actually quote anything from the report at just tries to be cutesy and clever without really presenting any evidence. Shaw is far more deceptive. Shaw quotes one section of the report saying that statutory rape should be reported differently from rape. But he ignores that the “sex offenses” in that graph include far more than rape charges. It also includes the two categories I mentioned specifically and which the report openly says includes statutory crimes not crimes of violence.

    If a statistic has several major components to it, and one of them says that statutory rape “should” be excluded while it says that in two other categories statutory crimes are included, including the more likely offense for kids (fondling) then it is not quite truthful to say the chart excludes all voluntary, consenting acts. It clearly does not do that. It includes them. It may exclude them in one of the components but it includes them in others so the chart does reflect such statutory crimes, whether we like it or not.

  27. Trumwill says:

    PD Shaw,

    Last I heard, contrary to the common perception recidivism rates for sexual offenders are lower than that for other crimes.

    CLS,

    Could you provide the passage that states that statutory rape offenses are included? Or provide me a link to where you did so in the comment section of your post? Or date and time so I can find it?

  28. PD Shaw says:

    Shaw and Our Paul, basically make the same point — that the chart does not include statutory offenses.

    I have repeatedly written that the chart does not include statutory rape. The report from the chart repeats what are in the instructions for law enforcement officers to code statutory rape under a specific category for statutory rape.

    CLS, is it your position that “statutory rape” offenses are included in that chart?

  29. PD Shaw says:

    General points and I’m off for the day.

    Sexual offenses are species of unwanted touching (battery). The gist of the offense is that lack of consent, plus some element of sexual conduct. In most states, lack of consent can be proven by the defendant’s own knowledge that the victim is too immature to give knowing consent.

    For example, in California, lack of consent can be established by showing duress:

    As used in this section, “duress” means a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, or retribution sufficient to coerce a reasonable person of ordinary susceptibilities to perform an act which otherwise would not have been performed, or acquiesce in an act to which one otherwise would not have submitted. The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, and his or her relationship to the defendant, are factors to consider in appraising the existence of duress.

    So, if a fourteen year old is forced into performing a sex act against her will, due in part to her immaturity, she is going to appear in that chart. But that has nothing to do with statutory age of consent issues.

  30. Our Paul says:

    My intent in commenting can be found in the second to last paragraph from the end, to wit:

    To my mind, Classically Liberal, has abstracted a graph, and come to a variety of conclusions that are truly nutso to the rational mind.

    The key sentence to interpret the data can be found on the first page of the report:

    From most to least serious, these crimes are forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling. If more than one of these offenses occurred, the most severe sexual charge was used to classify the sexual assault in the incident. (my italics, OP)

    If one drifts down to page three, the four different reported crimes are individually graphed. Forcible rape peaks at around age 15, an age at which the emerging hormonal tide comes into its full force. The other three reported sexual crimes show a distinct bi-modal distribution, with an early peak occurring at victim age five, a second peak occurring slightly earlier than age 15. Only in the last category (Forcible Fondling) is the first peak smaller the second peak. This, and other aspects of Dr. Snyder’s report point to the fact that he was dealing with an examination of sexual psychopathology.

    The issue of inadvertently tagging teen age sexual exploration as a crime is real, and my response to Dr. Joiner’s post was not aimed at minimizing this problem. Our host points to a blog post by brother Andrew whose stature among liberals was recently raised a few notches by being nabbed in a park with a few ounces of that weed. Scholar that he is, Andrew gives us a link to an Editorial in the Economist that covers criminalization of teen age sexual activity in detail.

    Psssst: I probably would not have commented further, but CLS (September 25, 2009 | 09:33 pm) had this to say:

    Our Paul doesn’t actually quote anything from the report at just tries to be cutesy and clever without really presenting any evidence.

    Don’t know about the “cutsey”, will accept the “clever”. Where I come from, you do not take a paper that explores a significant problem, and misinterpreted the data to beat your own drum.

  31. CLS says:

    Our Paul: “To my mind, Classically Liberal has abstracted a graph and come to a variety of conclusions…..” Nope. The article was not based on the graph at all but by the dozens of other posts I’ve written over the years where links to sources are provided. I merely pointed to the graph as one piece of evidence but my conclusion, which you saw, was not based on it at all. The blog has a list of all the dozens of other cases on which it was based.

    Trumwill: You ask for the passage that says statutory rape offenses are included. I said that “statutory offenses” are included. The quote showing that statutory offenses are included is in my first reply. The report says that statutory rape ought to be put in a different category but it specifically says that in at least two broad areas statutory offenses are included. I listed those. Since numerous offenses are included in the chart, including statutory offenses, it is deceptive to harp about one category where it is supposed to be excluded (whether it is or not is up to local police who report such matters) when other categories included specifically say such statutory crimes are included.

    Shaw asks “is it your position that ‘statutory rape’ offenses are included in that chart? My point was that statutory offenses are included and rape is only one kind of offense. not the only one either. Turn the question around to what I was saying and what was debated: “Are you saying that NO statutory offenses are included?”

    In Shaw’s post on California he then quotes a passage saying total circumstances are accounted for. And mentions a 14yo “forced into performing a sex act against her will, due in part to her maturity….”He says that has nothing to do with statutory age of consent issues. The question is not whether that is just one factor but whether prosecutions take place in the US where teens are arrested for consensual sex and where age was the only factor. No one disputed that some warranted prosecutions exist with factors other than age. But that some do exist certainly doesn’t disprove that prosecutions are still taking place where the only factor was age. All we have to do is look at the cases of teens arrested for “sexting” and who are then told they must register as sex offenders, to prove that.

    The people hell-bent on defending these badly drafted, contradictory laws, seem to believe that if they can show one case that is warranted that proves all cases are warranted. They also appear to believe it disproves my case — but that is because some fantasize I said no cases are warranted, when I never said any such thing.

    Our Paul says that Andrew Sullivan “Scholar that he is … gives a link to an Editorial in the Economist that covers criminalization in detail. Implication: I didn’t do so. If Our Paul had bothered to actually read more than my conclusion he would have seen that virtual every case the Economist just spoke about has been blogged about on my blog long before the Economist found the issue. As far as I know none of the examples in the Economist article were not first used on my site, along with others along the way that they didn’t use.

    The piece everyone reads is the summation of my thoughts about what has happened. The evidence was in dozens of other posts that most did not bother to read (though they are listed on site for convenience) and then pretend didn’t exist. Ignoring the evidence presented, doesn’t mean it was not there. This page has links to almost 5 dozen articles I posted, most listing specific cases which document my case. It is not everything on the blog on the topic, since the earlier posts were not indexed.

  32. Our Paul says:

    There are several issues CLS, my good man.

    The first is whether teen age sexuality is being criminalized. The answer to that is yes. If you are Christian, Muslim, or of other faith, and your Holy Book is not enough to dampen down the sexual drive when the brain is plastic and still developing, why you then call in the law. Anything to scare the pants back on to those sinful teens.

    The second point is straight forward. Does the paper by Dr. Snyder, and his graph that you quoted, support your contention that teen sexual exploration is being criminalized? In my view, the answer is no. Please note that others in this blog, such as PD Shaw, agree with this formulation. And assuredly not when the reported crime involves victims under the age of ten, as Dr. Snyder’s paper presents.

    That said, the last question. Does the FBI data that Dr. Snyder analyzed contain possible cases of “ consensual” acts of sexual of exploration between teens that is classified as rape? I would unhesitatingly say yes, although it would be hard to prove how many cases given the parameters imposed on his data.

    What today is classified as sexual psychopathology will in all probability tomorrow be classified as a brain disorder whose etiology lies either in the in utero gestasional period or in a failure of the maturing brain to bend to the mores of societies. The later poses a problem, for what is accepted in one society, may not be accepted in another.

    Understand that agree with your basic thesis, but disagree of your interpretation of the data presented in Dr. Snyder’s paper…

  33. Steve Verdon says:

    PD,

    Whatever, but the point remains, two teenagers engaging in oral sex and getting caught could very well end up in that graph even if no force is used (speaking in commone sense vs. idio…err legal sense). The point still remains that two teens exploring their sexuality in a consensual and non-violtent way (from a common sense perspective) could end up on a sex offender registry. The underlying logic: they molested each other.

    Our Paul,

    The second point is straight forward. Does the paper by Dr. Snyder, and his graph that you quoted, support your contention that teen sexual exploration is being criminalized? In my view, the answer is no. Please note that others in this blog, such as PD Shaw, agree with this formulation. And assuredly not when the reported crime involves victims under the age of ten, as Dr. Snyder’s paper presents.

    But that is just it, remove those cases that you agree are there and what would happen? Would we see fewer people at the tails? Probably not is my guess at least not in the right hand tail, maybe a slight decrease in the left hand tail. Would we see a drop in the peak? Probably. If that is the case, then the graph goes along with what CLS has been telling us. That criminalizing teenage sexuality is a problem, and that problem is one of turning the innocent into criminals and hounding them pretty much for the rest of their lives.

    And frankly I think you should apologize for the nutso comment since you’ve agreed with CLS’ main point that criminalizing teenage sexuality in general is a bad idea.

  34. RealNews says:

    Yes, sex offender laws have become insane in America! There are approximately 700,000 people on the registry to date and there is no way someone can tell me every one of them is a “predator”. America has the largest amount of people on the registry thanks to political corruption that lumps everyone together.
    Many are non-violent offenders like these teenagers mentioned in the article. One in particular is forced to register as a “Tier III” offender in Oklahoma because he had consensual sex with another teenager just three years younger who lied about her age (click here).
    Yes, some teens actually do commit a real rape, but many listed on the registry have not and they should never be swept up into the same category.
    The original intent of Megan’s Law was to only monitor those who are truly dangerous (i.e. serial molesters) and that is what the law should go back to.
    Only power hungry politicians like Bobby Jindal see any benefit from placing all these harmless teenagers on registries.