Sunday, May 13, 2007

More from Sex Crimes (and that's all for today, folks)

Here are excerpts from Sex Crimes, which continues to do outstanding reporting on the topics:

The expansion of sex offender laws along with harsher sentences for sexual offenders DO contribute to the decline in child sexual abuse

Among explanations for the general decline in crime during the 1990s, the large increase in the incarceration of offenders has received the most extensive empirical support. Although detailed data are insufficient to conduct a careful analysis of the possible impact of incarceration on sexual abuse, the overall pattern is certainly consistent with the idea that increased incarceration played a part in a true decline. (Explanations for the decline in child sexual abuse cases)

However, there are also disastrous consequences. For instance:

  • In California (and most other states), under pressure from politicians and victim advocacy groups, the mandatory child abuse reporting law, originally designed to protect children has been expanded to identifying offenders, making it virtually impossible for them to enter treatment without first suffering severe legal consequences. (How does this protect children?)
  • The age of consent varies from state to state and is out of sync with normal sexual development in every state. Adolescents are being charged with felonies for many ordinary, consensual and developmentally normal behaviors.
  • Disregarding scientific information about adolescent development, the Federal Government’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act will require lifetime registration as sex offenders for many of these adolescents.
  • Young children are being ostracized for sexual behavior that is often normal or at worst, an annoying means of seeking attention.
  • Under the guise of “protecting our communities,” without a shred of empirical support and in spite of significant empirical evidence to the contrary, sex offenders who served their sentences are being forced to leave their homes (and sometimes families) because they live too close to a school, playground or park.
  • In many States authorities are often free to take alleged child victims into custody and subject them to internal forensic medical examinations without either the child’s or parent’s permission. (They need a court order to look for evidence of a crime in a person’s home but not a child’s vagina or rectum.)
  • Adolescents are given conflicting and confusing messages about sexual behavior. They can generally consent to abortion and obtain birth control at age 12 but, depending on the state, cannot consent to sex until age 16 or eighteen. If they willingly engage in sex with adults before that age, adolescents are labeled (“compliant”) victims because they are considered incapable of meaningful consent. But if then engage in sex with a younger child they are considered capable of forming meaningful criminal intent by age 14 and can be (and often are) charged with felonies in adult courts.

In future posts I will expand on these and other issues and explore how they integrate with out cultural sexual obsession.

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