And she says that people who shoot at the houses of youth offenders, or set those houses on fire, often don't realize that they're targeting a house that contains the victim, too, because the victim is so often a sibling. T he Moore Center's researchers say that their work demonstrates that juvenile registration does not reduce already-low rates of sexual recidivism among children who offend. Those recidivism rates are lower than those of other nonsexual delinquent offenses. The mantra "once a sex offender, always a sex offender" is no more true than the idea that a childhood bully will be a bully for life.
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Registration does not reduce first-time offenses. In fact, it increases a juvenile's risk of being charged with new misdemeanor offenses, possibly because they're being tracked more closely by law enforcement, what Letourneau calls a "scarlet letter effect.
They found that registered children were four times as likely to report a recent suicide attempt, twice as likely to have been a victim of sexual assault in the past year, and five times as likely to have been approached by an adult for sex in the past year, "the very thing registration is supposed to prevent," she notes. The data are clear on that. My sincere hope is that, particularly with this new research, we show that not only does this policy not work to improve community safety, it really seems to have just a draconian effect on children. Letourneau estimates that 90 to 95 percent of national resources related to child sexual abuse go for punitive measures, including imprisonment, civil commitment, registration, and notification.
In an op-ed in Time , Letourneau describes one case in which she served as an expert witness. A year-old boy was convicted of sexually abusing his younger cousin. He spent five years in juvenile prison and another five years in a civil commitment program, the total cost of which exceeded half a million dollars. Letourneau says child sex abuse should be treated as a preventable public health issue. Were the Moore Center to succeed in moving the needle away from punishment toward prevention, what might that involve?
For kids, where the act was a case of ignorance or curiosity—say, a 4-year-old touching his sister in the bathtub—often times what's needed is simply teaching proper behavior and personal boundaries. For children replaying their own abuse, the solution is getting them to victim services such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. And in cases where someone realizes they harbor an unhealthy attraction, it is critical to intervene as early as possible—the moment the person realizes that as they've gotten older the people they are attracted to have not; the moment someone close to them suspects something is wrong; or the first time as opposed to the second, third, fourth, or hundredth that they try to act on their urges.
Meanwhile, the center is in the process of launching two programs that target adolescents at a key time in their sexual development. The center recently partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools and two other universities to develop and test the Responsible Behavior with Younger Children program for sixth- and seventh-graders.
Rethinking Sex-Offender Registries | National Affairs
Though the project received some funding from the National Institutes of Health, progress has been slow. It took 16 months out of what had been planned as a two-year study for all four research partners to get approval from their respective institutional review boards. In January, the intervention recruited its first Baltimore City school and is beginning focus group research with the aim to expand to three more.
The center has also been working on its Help Wanted online program , targeting young people who have unwanted sexual interest in children. So we know if we properly position our intervention, they'll find it," Letourneau says. The intervention has two goals: supporting participants to never act on their urges and helping them navigate adolescence and young adulthood successfully, given the stigma and shame that can come with sexual interest in children.
It will address such questions as, How can I meet my sexual needs safely? Letourneau says the center hopes to develop a separate module on suicide, a big concern among adolescents with a sexual interest in children. Last year, on the fifth anniversary of the Moore Center's founding, Stephen Moore made the announcement that he and his wife had renewed their funding for another five years. And Letourneau is encouraged by how the conversation has started to shift.
Rethinking Sex-Offender Registries
And if you free that money up, there's an argument to be made to put it toward treatment. Treatment of kids who have engaged in these behaviors, treatment of kids who have experienced these behaviors, which are often one and the same, and please, for the love of God, put some of it into the development, evaluation, and dissemination of effective primary prevention strategies.
The first federal law to require sex offenders to register with local law enforcement was the Wetterling Act of Patty Wetterling, Jacob's mother and one of the original proponents of the law, has become a critic of registration in the years since her son's abduction and murder. It has made me rethink the value of broad-based community notification laws, which operate on the assumption that most sex offenders are high-risk dangers to the community they are released into.
So that's somebody who's been remarkably brave and a remarkably, incredibly objective voice in the face of the worst possible thing. She adds, "We don't have to just take away registration. We can replace it with validated interventions for kids who have already engaged in these behaviors and their families. It's not that there's nothing out there that works. We have things that work. We just choose to focus on endless and very harsh punishment rather than treating kids so they don't do this again.
Resources: Stop It Now is an organization dedicated toward preventing sexual abuse of children. Tagged public health , sexual assault , criminal justice. Image credit : Jeffrey Decoster. When the abuser is a child, too. Research has shown most sex offenses are not reported to law enforcement, and a metaanalysis of sex offenders by the U. Department of Justice found that recidivism rates are often underestimated, particularly for sex offenses. But the number who reported that to law enforcement, Meisner said, is slim. Justice department data says that only 19 percent of women and 13 percent of men who were raped at 18 or older reported it to authorities.
Observing that convictions seldom result in jail time, many victims recoil from reporting to law enforcement, she said. Police have gotten better at trauma-informed interviews of sex crime victims, she said. But, Meisner noted, police had a reputation for treating such investigations like an interrogation, proceeding as though victims had made up accusations. A more critical eye has been drawn to the justice system meant to hold offenders accountable as the nation confronts its pervasive history of women and sexual assault.
The public has become increasingly aware of the issue as men in power are outed as alleged abusers.
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The MeToo movement led to male celebrities and businessmen having their guilt or innocence tried in the media sphere. Brock Turner, a Stanford University freshman, was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman. The outcome for year-old Turner was just as vocally derided as the allegations lodged outside the justice system, leading to such online fervor that a petition to recall the judge who sentenced him succeeded.
Experts argue these cases indelibly harm victims and often are buried and unreported because victims feel shame, feel protective of their abuser — who may be a family member — or fear the abuser being set free. Why, then, do many convictions result in little more than a monitoring program that lasts a few years?
A judge can reject any agreement that comes across his desk, and Brudie said he has rejected a few because the term recommended is not long enough. But he also understands how difficult sex offense cases can be. If he rejects a plea agreement, the case could go to a jury trial and the victim may have to testify, be harshly questioned and relive the crime.
And a conviction is not guaranteed. The jury might not believe the victim and choose to acquit the suspect. Earlier this month, Brudie sentenced Frank Cunningham to five years of probation for filming his alleged rape of an unconscious woman and posting the video online. Cunningham made multiple videos of the same victim, several in which she was conscious and the intercourse appeared consensual, but posted the videos to a pornography website without her knowledge.
When the woman found out, she contacted police and Cunningham was arrested.
Before he deleted the videos they had been cumulatively viewed almost 4 million times. Not only had Cunningham abused the woman, he had broadcast the abuse to strangers, and the videos, despite being deleted, will likely live on the internet indefinitely.
The emphasis on violence against children comes largely at the expense of adult women. The majority of adult victims in the sample are women Table 1 , which closely matches national data on victimization showing that from to , women made up 91 percent of reported sexual assault victimizations Barnett-Ryan et al.
Although the overall proportion of female to male victims remains relatively constant across crime categories in the sample data when both gender and crime category are mentioned Figure 8 , this relationship breaks down when age is introduced into the analysis. Figure 9 , which examines the gender division of victims within the three sample age categories, shows that female victims are most likely to be above age 18, making up 81 percent of the victims in that age category, while coverage of child victims in the sample is more evenly divided by gender.
Among victims under age 12, 49 percent were female and 40 percent male. This age category also had the highest percentage of articles that mentioned both male and female victims. When the child victim age categories are combined, female victims make up 54 percent of victims under age Figure 8. Victim gender percentage within crime category, Los Angeles Times reports on sexual predators, to Figure 9.
Victim gender percentage within age category, Los Angeles Times reports on sexual predators, to Relative to national statistics, the sample demonstrates a greater focus on male victims in every age category. BJS data indicates that only 27 percent of sexual crime victims under age 12 are male sample data indicated 40 percent , 18 percent of victims aged 12 to 17 are male sample data indicated 38 percent , and 5 percent of victims aged 18 and older are male sample data indicated 13 percent.
Nationally, women make up 82 percent of victims under age 18; my news sample shows almost 30 percent fewer women victims than that Snyder Articles present such victims as neither universally representative nor unequivocally innocent. Another story about a rape case describes how the attorney for the defendant attempted to seek a mistrial because one of the victims lied about her past as an adult film star Krikorian In contrast to universalizing narratives of child victims, these narratives set adult women aside as different.
Discussions of adult victims often arise from trial coverage, where articles detail court cases surrounding rapes and other sexual crimes. These examples demonstrate the intersection of law and media: article coverage reflects the content of legal cases, but in the process, it repeats legal narratives that link the credibility of adult and even older teenage victims to their sexuality.
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He is a liar and a violent predator. Are you going to convict these men on [his word]? Such representations emphasize the ways in which male victims particularly of male offenders fail to live up classic ideals of masculinity. The law named for one child is now for every child.