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Recently I read a study from Johns Hopkins/Bloomberg School of Public Health/Dec.6, 2017 titled “Children on Sex Offender Registries at Greater Risk for Suicide Attempts, Study Suggests.” The article discussed how children who are legally required to register as sex offenders are at an increased risk of suicide as well as sexual assault compared with children who committed some illegal sexual behavior but who for whatever reason, weren’t required to register.
Well, it’s no great surprise to anyone that those registered children were more likely to attempt suicide and more likely to be sexually assaulted. Registry and all the stigma and restrictions that go with it versus a “normal” life of one’s own, of course those not on the registry will do better, doesn’t take a “study” to figure that out.
According to the article, registered children had more mental health issues, peer problems and were more worried about their safety than their counterparts that weren’t on the registry.
And as I read the article I realized I could substitute the term “registered adult” in any part of the above child references and it would still all be the same wouldn’t it?
Adults registrants having mental health issues such as depression, isolation, and despondency due to their situation. Adult registrants having difficulty re-integrating into society, having difficulty re-building relationships with family and friends. Adult registrants who worry constantly about not only their own safety but that of their family. Adult registrants that take their own lives or become victims of abuse by others.
Children, adults, when it comes to the registry there’s no discrimination, everyone gets equal bad treatment. Everyone’s chance of slipping off the edge because of the mental health issues the registry creates and committing suicide, it’s all the same no matter what age you are.
The lead for the study, Elizabeth Letourneau PhD. states “the process of subjecting children to sex offender registration and notification requirements not only conveys to the child that he or she is worthless, it also essentially alerts the rest of the world that a child has engaged in an illegal sexual behavior.”
She goes on to say that the policy of putting children on a registry is “stigmatizing and distressing.”
Again, insert “Adult Registrant” anywhere in that sentence..
Feelings of worthlessness, a shame that the entire world can view online, stigmatized, distressed, many adult registrants experience those same feelings.The feelings are age-universal, not solely those of child registrants.
Some of you reading this may say that “adults should have know better that they deserve to be on a registry for their offenses, children, well that’s a different story.”
In some instances you may be right, adults should know better when it comes to some of the mistakes they’ve made, offenses they’ve committed, but I don’t know their stories and I try not to judge. I don’t know a soul on this earth that hasn’t made some mistake that they regret. Some mistakes you can fix, but with the registry, there doesn’t seem to be any fixing.
No child or adult deserves to be displayed on a list that is solely for public shaming, scrutiny and humiliation. That kind of list, just the thought of being on this kind of list has caused some awaiting sentencing to take their own lives and it has caused otherwise “sane” people to become “insane” and take the lives of some of those on the list.
The registry causes nothing but pain for the adults and children that are on it.
The registry never made anyone safer.
Research by Ms. Letourneau reports that less than 3% of children adjudicated for a sexual offense go on to commit another. Isn’t that close to the same re-offense rate for adults, somewhere between 3-5%?
It’s all the same, no matter whether we’re talking adults or children.
When it comes to the registry, age just doesn’t matter.