Take a minute and imagine what you were like as a child or a teenager. Chances are you are not the same person today that you were when you were that young. But how would it feel to know that you are still being punished today for a mistake you made back then?
Unfortunately for many people, this is not an imagined scenario. It is all too real and they are paying the price of a childhood mistake or bad judgment as an adult by being placed on the list of registered sex offenders.
A recent article in the New Yorker titled, “The List,” examined this very issue with a closer look at several different cases involving children or young teens who were convicted of a sexually-related offense and/or placed on the registration.
In many of the scenarios, the incidents involve children who were curious, teens who were in consensual sexual relationships with younger boyfriends or girlfriends and young people who simply made a bad decision. Young people in these scenarios don’t just get grounded: they can be convicted of a criminal offense and labeled as a sex offender.
However, as we discussed in an article on our own website titled, “Adolescent brain immaturity may be responsible for many juvenile crimes,” the above-mentioned actions are not necessarily indicative of a larger problem warranting such extreme penalties. The reality is that child and adolescent brains are not yet developed in the way an adult brain is.
Young people are more likely to be aggressive, succumb to peer pressure, take risks and ignore the potential consequences of misconduct. Further, they don’t always understand the difference between right and wrong at some ages.
It is certainly troubling to think that a young child or teen will have to pay the price of a youthful mistake well into their adult years, but for many people across Florida, this is the reality they are facing. While people across the U.S. debate the need for systemic reforms to juveniles and the sex offender registry, it can be crucial for anyone who is struggling with this situation to speak with an attorney right away in order to try and minimize a young person’s exposure to harsh and unnecessary penalties.