chapter  54
6 Pages

Adolescent Sex Offenders

WithJames Rokop, Douglas P. Boer

The label adolescent sex offender is burdened with preconceptions and is least harmfully and most accurately viewed as an administrative classification for crimes.1 In the United States, juveniles committed 15% of all forcible rape arrests reported in 2009. However, rates of sexually offending are declining. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the forcible rape arrest rate has fallen 58% from its 1991 peak, the lowest in three decades. Seemingly at odds with this downward trend, there has been a significant departure from the way in which juvenile offenders have been traditionally handled by the juvenile justice system in some countries. For example, in the United States, Megan’s Law (1996), the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act of 2006, and the federal Sex Offender Registration Notification Act (SORNA) are examples of tough laws with the goal of unified registration and public notification of all sex offenders. Adolescent sex offenders can even face possible post-incarceration civil commitment.2 The premises of these laws are built on faulty assumptions,3 evidence of a deterrence effect is lacking,4 and the treatment community appears to have little confidence that these laws enhance public safety.5