“If it saves one child, it is worth it!” I can not even count the number of times I have heard that phrase. The whole problem here, though, is NO children are being saved at all, instead far more are being put in danger because of improperly judged and outdated risk-factor information.
As a society we are failing our children and ourselves on so many levels. There has been so much intervention by the government into the lives of our families, that many parents actually fear setting boundaries for, or disciplining their children. By default many children now have their parents in the palm of their hands.
Playing outside is a memory from the past, as so many children are immersed in the virtual world, or are cautioned by their parents about the “widespread” danger of predators lurking behind every tree. Following in the same footprints, they are also being warned that imminent danger also exists at every level on the internet. Time after time they are told to “watch for predators” but are not actually taught who the real predators might be. They are NOT informed that the behavior of their peers can be deemed predatory.
They are bombarded with sexuality from every type of media, yet are expected not to be curious, let alone mimic any of what they are exposed to. Young girls are challenged to dress like older girls (or women) and look “hot”. Young boys are basically taught that to be a man is to flaunt their sexual prowess with as many “women” as they can. Yet the myriad of laws now on the books regarding sexual “crimes” (more than 200 and growing rapidly) doom these same children, from tots to teens, (if caught acting out) to life on the registry, with NO hope for the future.
They (and society) NEED to realize that once they are on the registry their life will be beyond difficult. They WILL be banned from society in a very real way. The reality of the restrictions imposed on them will nullify any chance of a normal life, regardless of what their juvenile “offense” was.
The list is endless and the impact on their life will depend on where they live. A few examples include: no housing within a certain distance of schools, daycare centers, churches, etc. (up to 2,500 feet in some areas); no higher education (their status must be registered and reported, leading to high rates of drop outs, or being driven out); no career (even minimum wage jobs are severely limited) because most employers face having their businesses boycotted if they “dare” hire a registrant. A number of states also impose bans against offender use of parks, pools, beaches, etc.
Above all, the human need for love will be thrown in their face at every turn. After all, what decent human being would willingly enter into a relationship with one of “those monsters”? If by chance they do manage to find someone to love them, that love will be tested over and over again. Many times, the registry or the effects thereof, will be the breaking point in that relationship, no matter how strong that love may be. I must reiterate, no matter what their crime was, as the registry, in societies eyes is all encompassing, with each registrant considered worthy of a bullet between their eyes.
The original purpose of the registry was to keep track of dangerous predators so that society (particularly children) could be safe from victimization. The sex offender registry in its beginning had a noble purpose, which has evolved from law enforcement monitoring a small percentage of repeat offenders to a widespread collection of first time offenders, non-sexual crimes, misdemeanor offenses and sadly a large segment of children as young as 7 years old, who for the most part are on public display. What could a seven year-old possibly do to end up on the registry, you ask. It is fairly simple, what used to be considered normal childhood exploratory behavior, or what many have termed “playing doctor” is a registrable offense. Not only that, but it is an offense against a minor, which under many circumstances dooms that child to life on the public registry, the very same treatment reserved for adults who rape or molest children. This same premise applies to older juveniles, effectively punishing them for life for youthful indiscretions.
The next fallacy that we are faced with is that the public registry is “just a list”. This implies that it is simply regulatory, when in all actuality, it is indeed punitive, not only to the ex-offender, but also to his family and others close to him. This reinforces the reasoning that public shaming serves only to ban undesirables from society, rather than rehabilitating people and allowing them to become productive members of society, relegating them to becoming a burden to society indefinitely.
My final thought on this issue is this: Is this the world you envisioned for your child when you brought him/her into this world? I think not. The parents of many of the children and young adults on the registry looked into the face of their equally innocent and beautiful infant and never dreamed for one moment that their child would one day be doomed to the registry for no good reason. Changes need to be demanded to stop the path of destruction we have paved, not only for our children and ourselves, but for the future of our country.