The youngest person that can be place on the National Sex Offender Registry is age 6. Yes, a kindergarten and be found to be a sexual predator as society puts it. Individuals on the registry are all treated equal by the public no matter the details of their actual crime. Even though the sex offender registry is a positive tool in the protection of society, the registry needs to be evaluated because sexual assault is not the only form of child abuse, non-violent offenders are on the registry, and children are now required to register as offenders. The ethical problem that society needs to look at is the sex offender registry. The registry is a national registry for people who have committed sex crimes against another human being. The first registry was in California in 1947 however, the most widely known act was not until 1994 (the Jacob Wetterling Act). Megan’s Law proceeded that in 1996 and finally 2007 the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (Biance, 2009). Now all states have a registry to comply with these laws and regulations. Although underlined meaning of these laws come from a good place, to protect our children and adults from sexual assault they have taken it to the extreme and gotten off the beaten path.
Even Patty Wetterling the mother of Jacob had openly criticized the evolution of registry. Her story is heart wrenching and still she can recognized that something needs to change. An individual that has one picture of a naked child, the person that urinates in public, and the man that is 19 dating a 16yr old, the person that pays a prostitute for sex, and the minor crimes go on and on. All of these acts will land you on the registry for 15 or 25 years and possibly life. I think a deontology is a way to look at a way to resolve this issue. Deontology comes from the Greek deon, which means “duty,” deontology focuses on what we are obligated to do as rational moral agents (Mosser, 2010). It is particularly important to see that the deontologist does not say that actions do not have consequences; rather, the deontologist insists that actions should not be evaluated on the basis of the action’s consequences (Mosser, 2010). This approach to me is saying look at each individual and what they actually did in the realm of a sexual offence and decide what the best way to handle this situation is.
All sexual acts need to have consequences however there are so many varying degrees and situations that need to be looked at. The numbers required to register grow exponentially — including juveniles and many whose offenses were committed decades ago when they were considered rather minor transgressions. Together with their spouses, children and parents, registered sex offenders constitute a population larger than most large U.S. cities. There are nearly 700,000 registered sex offenders (Shannon, 2007). Here is the story of “R”. He was abused as a child from both his father and step mother. He was taken from his parents on two different occasions and put into foster care and was returned both times to his abusers. He was burned, beaten, hog tied and many other physical acts along with mental abuse of telling his how worthless he is. He was also neglected by not being given ample clothes or food, and sometimes shelter. He had a brother and a sister that were not abused.
He had no friends and by the time he was in middle school he thought of ways to die. Between the abuse at home and the bullying at school life was too much. He did not end his life and when he was 17 he left his father’s home after finding his birth mother. However “R” was not mentally 17 and when he was 19 he still was not of his age and began dating a younger girl. At this time it was not widely know how much of a crime it was to date younger girls. The girl was 15 years old and the girl’s mother approved of their relationship. The older sister of the girl did not and eventually she called the police. They brought “R” in for questioning and he was released. Later arrested again for statutory rape and the mother (of the girl) came to defend him saying she knew and approved. He received a year in jail and so did the mother. Ten years later was required to start registering and was given life. He should not have been given a life sentence. He is a tier one offender and should only be required to register for 15 years. Tier three individuals the most violent are required to register for life.
He is now 42 years old and is functioning however being on the registry has caused extreme difficulty in getting jobs and being able to function without society opinions being forced upon him. I just think that this story is one of many who are non- violent and are lifelong registrants. All crimes that a person is on the registry for are wrong; I just think that the non-violent ones need to be reviewed more thoroughly. In contrast the deontology approach I think that a lot of people fall into the emotivism approach. Emotivism is a non-cognitive theory of ethics, because it denies, among other things, that moral claims can appeal to “facts.” Rather, emotivism, as the name indicates, simply says that moral claims express an emotional response, or an attitude, we may have toward a given kind of behavior (Mosser, 2010). I think people hear the word sex offender and they think the person is bad and has hurt a child. Their emotions and ignorance takes over.
The worst thing a person has ever done in their lives becomes the only thing they have ever done. Many who always despised “pedophiles” have been swept up by the hysteria and are stunned to suddenly find themselves or their children labeled sex offenders. The lives of many thousands of people have been unfairly ruined. And we have created a despised under-class labeled “sex offenders”. All of these developments are justified under the high-sounding rhetoric of “protecting our children from sexual predators” despite the fact that most registered sex offenders have never committed sexual offenses against minors (Shannon, 2007). Sex offenders are often very limited regarding travel and where they can live and they are often prohibited from being in many public spaces. A new wave of local legislation is sweeping over the land make it illegal for registered persons who have served their sentences to live virtually anywhere at all. In Miami, they can only live under a bridge.
There are people out there that think this is a good thing. In fact I was talking to a person just the other day that said all people on the registry need to be put onto a ship and taken out to the sea and then the ship needs to sink. When I further educated this individual he changed his opinions to all those who sexually assault a young child. I said ok so that makes more sense. My point here is that education needs to take place. The commercials on television and radio all say pretty much the same thing “protect your children”, “know who lives in your neighborhood”, and other terms that lead to society to thinking all people on the registry have sexually assaulted a child. Most of the web sites that you can look up registered offenders have listed their crimes and the watch dog site use color coding blue for crimes against children and red for other. I agree that we need to know who is in our neighbor hoods to protect our children but we need to make sure that we are getting all the information. Since the registry there has been a drop in the sex crime rate benefits local victims (neighbors and acquaintances, as well as family members, friends, and significant others); there is no evidence that registration affects the frequency of sex offenses against strangers (Prescott, 2012). Although people may act on their emotions and I too may have been like that until I was educated myself and stopped and listen instead of being judgmental.
Think that my view is best described as relativism. The view of ethical relativism regards values as determined by one’s own ethical standards, often those provided by one’s own culture and background (Mosser, 2010). I think my way of looking at this moral problem is right but so many would sharply disagree with me. I think the only way to solve it is to “agree to disagree.” I feel there are so many aspects to this topic and some are justified consequences and ones that no one could argue with like sexual abuse to a child. I have strong opinion on this matter when it comes to the children and the message that the registry sends regarding the protection of young children. Young children are put on the registry for sexually assaulting others in various ways and they can be put on the registry.
They are not usually lifetime registrants but I’m sure that it affects their lives as they get older. As children they do not think about the effects their choices will have when they are older. It affects their college and possibly job opportunities. Society says that children under 17 years of age cannot consent to sex but they are having sex and then are put on the registry for something that cannot consent to. It all seems a little backwards. If a child at the age of 6 can put on the registry then they did something that society says is wrong or broke the law.
How exactly can a 6 year old make that determination? Where would they learn it? It is possible and likely that it happened to them and they are acting out what happened to them. Some children are just hypersexual. They have that sense without being taught; but they are not the norm and still they are not criminals they are still just children that need help to be given a chance to learn right from wrong. I think that anyway that you put it a child should not be put onto the registry but to make sure they get the help that they need to cope with whatever happened to them, or to learn techniques to deal with their thoughts.
I feel the registry’s message is that children that are sexually abused are worse off than the ones that are neglected, physically abused, or other types of abuse. Below is a chart from the National Child Abuse website Child Help and it states that actually neglect is highest rate of child abuse at 78.3%. The next highest is physical abuse and then other. Sexual abuse is at 9.2% and comes in fourth. More than 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse (Child Help, 2013). How many of those 5 are from sexual abuse. I would wager to say not many. Most would be from neglect and physical abuse. Not saying that sexual abuse is not relevant or wrong but sexual abuse gets the most recognition and the only one that can land you on the registry. The main point of the registry is to keep children safe and to know who lives in your neighborhood so you can protect yourself. I think that we should know who lives in our neighbor hoods and who lives at where our children go to play.
So let’s say that your child is going to a friend’s house and their live in boyfriend has lost his children for burning them, or beating them, or severe neglect. Would you not want to know that? I think that if you are going to have a registry for those that have sexually assaulting a child then there should be one for all types of child abuse with the same consequences. If someone tells you “sex offenders never change,” know they are quoting a myth likely heard on a TV show – or worse, by someone “in the know” who is quoting a TV show. People can change; this program (Circles of Support) reduces recidivism by 70 percent (Deirdre, 2012). In Canada they have support groups for sex offenders but there are not many in the United States for offenders and their families to get support. I know from personal experience that people can change. It seems though that even when the justice system does it job and people learn from their mistakes, their past will always be held against them. It is not like they say “good job” or anything positive they just continue to hold it over their heads.
This subject has been a part of my life since I was 5 years old when a neighbor sexually assaulted me. He never served time because I was too young to testify. He could never work with children ever again but received no consequences for the abuse that I suffered. I think he should have received more of a punishment that he did and probably went on to hurt more children. In today’s world he would be in prison and of released on the registry. This subject would touch my life again until I was in my late teens and I only liked older men. My parents hated that. I dated and had sexual relations with males that were 18 and older. I did not see anything wrong with it and I did not know that it was against the law. My parents could have called the police but did not as they knew that it was a dating relationship. I was raped a young child and I would not call my teen years as being raped. Looking back now I do not feel like I was being raped.
I still feel like I knew what I was doing and what I was consenting to. Would I want that for my daughter? No! I think that children are so precious and I want my daughter to enjoy her young years and to stay a child. If she chooses to date someone older I would discourage it. Now I’m married to a sex offender. The story told earlier of “R” is my husband’s story. I would not be with him if he assaulted a young child or brutally raped someone. It was hard at first to tell the story to my family and friends but thankfully for me they all accepted him into their lives except one friend. She and her husband were definitely in the emotivism theory. They just acted on emotions and not facts. They just felt like he had to do something bad to be on the registry. Even though I had the reports from the courts specifically saying they were dating, she still could not understand.
I lost that friend but it was a difficult time. My husband before I meet him obtained sole legal custody of his son from the State of Wisconsin. He cannot be that bad if the state gave him a child. Still although he has committed no crimes since he was 19 years old, has legal custody of his son, and has no restrictions as an offender it still is difficult at some points throughout our lives from other people’s ignorance. No matter how what perspective you look at this ethical issue through I think that a person can see areas with the sex offender registry laws that need to be evaluated. Most ethical issues are like that; that you can see both sides and agree with points within both sides.
It is the side that you agree with the most that lean toward and feel passionate about. My life has seen all sides and I lean toward the in favor of the law with some serious modifications to the registry part of it. I have written my local and state representatives on this issue and received information back from some of them. I just hope that in the future as they look at the registry and the laws surrounding it that they look at some of these flaws and work on them. If they continue to add more and more people I think that it will lose its effectiveness. So, while the registry is a positive tool in the protection of society, the registry needs to be evaluated.
Child Help. (2013). National Child Abuse Statistics. Retrieved from www.childhelp.org/pages /statistics Counter Punch (2007). An Urgent Call to Support the Well-Being of Children and the Rights of Us All. Retrieved from http://www.counterpunch.org/2007/07/10/an-urgent-call-to-support-the-well-being-of-children-and-the-rights-of-us-all/ Deirdre, F. C. (2012, Dec 16). Circles of support extends help to sex offenders. Sunday News. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1239136080?accountid=32521 Mosser, K. (2010). Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility. San Diego, Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books/ AUSOC120.10.2 /sections/ch00 Prescott, J. J. (2012). Do sex offender registries make us less safe? Regulation, 35(2), 48-55. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1030090057?accountid=32521
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