Do Young Kids Belong on the Registered Sex Offender List?
Shocking as it is, many kids have been and are being arrested and charged for committing what the courts deem acts of sexual assault and even aggravated incest. These children are attending their sentencing hearings while still learning algebra in primary school, and many are evencondemned to a life on the registered sex offenders list.
While most of these cases go unnoticed, three registered sex offenders in Colorado — one of whom was charged with third degree sexual assault at the age of 13 when a classmate accused him of “always trying to hug her” and has been listed on the registered sex offenders list ever since — are fighting back.
Alternet reports that the plaintiffs, referred to as A.A., D.M., and V.A., are in the process of suing Colorado governor Hickenlooper in federal court, stating that children, such as they were, do not belong on the registered sex offenders list, arguing that such a punishment is "cruel and unusual” for a child and “bad public policy.”
The plaintiffs argue that while none of them has committed a sex crime since they were discharged from supervision, they have all struggled to keep jobs and housing because they appear on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's public database of registered sex offenders.
The official complaint is packed with reasons why requiring youth to register as sex offenders for life is uneconomical and ineffective, regardless of the fact that each sex offender, whether old or young, is “painted with the same brush” instead of allowing for individual assessments to determine which offenders are the most dangerous and which just made an honest mistake.
The complaint also delves into the psychological and social affects the sex offender registration has had on the plaintiffs. “Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by identity formation,” the complaint reads. “Labels stick and can last a lifetime. The label of 'sex offender' and 'child molester' has caused profound damage to A.V.'s and A.A.'s development and self-esteem. The stigmatization of them has led to their fear or mistrust of others, rejection, and isolation from family and friends. These harms are compounded by the shame that comes with registration and notification, which lacks an endpoint. Subjecting alienated and confused youth sex offenders to long term public humiliation, stigmatization and barriers to education, employment and housing exacerbates the psychological difficulties they already experienced as adolescents.”
To this end, the plaintiffs are urging the court to rule the enforcement of the registration of children as sex offenders for life as unconstitutional.
This report brings to mind the article we recently wrote about a10-year-old girl in Texas who, if the courts in the deep south work at all like those in Colorado, may be forced to register as a young sex offender. The girl was reported to authorities by a witness who said they saw the girl touch a 4-year-old boy’s private parts while the pair played doctor. She is now being charged with sexual assault.
I’m sorry, but whatever happened to kids being kids? At what point will parents and law enforcement realize that these young kids — ages 10, 11, 13, or younger — are at the age when they begin to bud as adults. They become curious about their bodies and those of the opposite sex. Least of all, the boy who was accused of trying to hug the girl may have just had a harmless crush, we just don’t know.
In my humble opinion, such cases should be handled by family, not by the law. The police have bigger fish to fry, and as the complaint submitted for the court case mentioned above reads, such strong involvement by the law “overburden law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness.”
We want to know what you think about this, moms. Are you of the mindset that kids will be kids at this age, or do you feel more comfortable knowing that children with such curious tendencies are being closely monitored by the law? Please comment below.