Keeping labeling theory in mind, does sex registration (of convicted sex offenders) serve the public interests, and or does this labeling process do more harm than good? Pls fully explain and defend your views. I am the father of 4 children. I have three daughters; 23, 14 and 7 and a 21 year old boy. The thought of my children, any of them, older or younger, being the victim of a sex offense scares me to death. I have always been in favor of the National Sex Offender Registry. I have thought of the sex offender registry as a tool. Since having my children, whenever I have moved to any location I always check the sex offender registry to look for registered sex offenders in the area and have decided not to move to certain homes because of the results. I would use the sex offender registry to know exactly where the registered offenders lived in relation to my family. Because of the labeling theory, I have altered my views somewhat about the National Sex Offender Registry. The labeling theory basically states that people will often fit themselves into the role that society places on them. This is especially true concerning deviant labeling and deviant behavior.
An example of this may be that if an individual has been involved in some physical fights and society labels them as “violent”, the individual will then accept the role society has given them and continue to act violently regardless of the consequences. Also, if a certain section of society labels an individual a certain way, others in society will come to accept the label given to the individual (Bernburg, 2003). Most people believe that the National Sex Offender Registry will keep them and their families safe because they can look up the offenders, know who they are and protect against them. The problem is that very few of the sex offenses committed by criminals are against strangers. Most of the time the offender is a neighbor they already know, a friend of the family or a family member. In these instances the National Sex Offender Registry would offer no protection. The sex offender registry does, however, allow officials to closely monitor the registered offenders and therefore allow for some level of protection for the instances where the offender is a “stranger” to the victim (Prescott, 2012). When individuals are labeled as a sex offender, the labeling theory states that they are likely to commit sexual offenses again. When the offender is labeled they feel they are stuck with it and have no chance to ever lose that label.
The labeled individual feels that since everyone else says they are deviant and will not accept them, they may as well keep being deviant. When society accepts the label given to the individual there can be numerous negative results for the individual, regardless of whether or not they have reformed and don’t deserve the label. Some of these results are loss of a job, loss of their housing, and loss of social relationships (Prescott, 2012). Once these negative results happen the labeled individual will likely revert back to what they know and like, deviance. Many times people placed in the National Sex Offender Registry are placed there for relatively minor offenses. When they are labeled and cannot gain societies acceptance they may then turn to a more deviant lifestyle and I have seen this happen personally. When I was recruiting for the Army a 24 year old male wanted to join the Army. Everything seemed good. He had a high school diploma, did well on the ASVAB and was physically fit. Then the criminal background check came back. Only one incident, but it placed him on the National Sex Offender Registry. He was at a party at a Super Bowl party at a friends house. He was drinking alcohol and had to urinate. There was someone passed out in the bathroom with the door locked, so he went to the back yard to urinate. There was still a little daylight left and the neighbors’ daughter, who was about 3, came out and saw him urinating.
The neighbors were upset, called the police and had him arrested for indecent exposure to a minor. This put him on the National Sex Offender Registry. Because of the charge he was not eligible to join the Army. I put in a request for a waiver because of what actually happened. Before the results of the waiver could be processed, he was charged with sexual assault in a local bar. This time it was more legitimate and I knew I could not get a waiver. When I asked him what had happened he told me because he thought he wouldn’t get into the Army because of the previous charge, he felt like “scum”, decided to go out and get drunk and while he was drunk, sexually assaulted a female. Based on the use of the labeling theory, I do not believe the National Sex Offender Registry should be kept in its current form.
I think that the National Sex Offender Registry should not be made public, but just used by law enforcement and corrections. Both the individual who is labeled and society accept the label, whether or not it applies, and the individual is more likely to become a repeat offender. First time offenders need to be able to receive help, treatment and rehabilitation, and repeat offenders need to receive very harsh penalties, especially in the case of juvenile sex offenses References:
Bernburg, J. G. & Krohn, M. D. (2003). Labeling, life chances and adult crime: The direct and indirect effects of official intervention in adolescence on crime in early adulthood. Criminology, 41(4), 1287-1318. Prescott, J. J. (2012). Do sex offender registries make us less safe. Regulation, 35(2), 48-58.