How Common Are Sex Crimes?
Sex crimes are unfortunately fairly common in the United States. It is estimated that one in every five girls and one in every seven boys are sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood. One in six adult women and one in 33 adult men experience an attempted or completed sexual assault.
Why Do People Commit Sex Crimes?
No single factor or combination of factors can fully explain why someone offends sexually, though some factors may combine to increase people’s tendency to offend.
These factors are:
- 69% of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender, or another individual. 5
- Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.6
- Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 7
- In 2010, 25% of the female victims of rape/sexual assault were victimized by strangers. 13
- Of respondents to a survey of juvenile victims of Internet-initiated sex crimes, the majority met the predator willingly face-to-face and 93% of those encounters had included sexual contact. 16
- 15% of cell-owning teens (12–17) say they have received sexually suggestive nude/seminude images of someone they know via text. 11
- 26% of teenagers and young adults say they have participated in sexting (12 different forms of sexting were examined), a 6% decline since 2011. 20
- An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
- About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
- Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers.
- Not all perpetrators are adults—an estimated 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18.
- Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know About Sex Offenders (pdf)
Since 2005, at least six sex offenders nationwide have been murdered by people who used a state registry to track their victims.
Sex Offender Laws and Child Offenders
It’s a negative self-fulfilling prophecy when you label a child a sex offender. You place that kind of stigma on a kid and they tend to live up, or rather down, to those expectations.
—Scott Smith, a therapist who treats children with sexual behavior issues -https://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/us0907/7.htm#_ftn219
How many of you would like a poor decision you made at the age of 13 to follow you around for the rest of your life?
—Lacy J., a mother of a 13-year-old convicted as an adult for having sexual contact with his five-year-old cousin, speaking before a panel of Arizona state legislators
He knows nothing about sex. There is no way to explain [the accusation of sexual harassment] to him.
—Michael V., whose five-year-old son was accused of sexually harassing a kindergarten classmate after he pinched her buttocks
Teenagers and even young children who engage in certain sex-based conduct may find themselves subject to sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws. Some children are on registries because they committed serious sex offenses, such as forcibly raping a much younger child. Other children are labeled sex offenders for such non-coercive or nonviolent and age-appropriate activities as “playing doctor,” youthful pranks such as exposing one’s buttocks, and non-coercive teen sex.
Subjecting children to sex offender laws originally developed for adult offenders is both unnecessary from a public safety perspective and harmful to the child.
The juvenile justice system acknowledges that children who break the law should be treated differently than adults, with a greater emphasis on rehabilitation, and that forcing them to carry the burden of a public criminal record for childhood mistakes serves neither them nor the community. The records of children caught up in the juvenile justice system can be expunged or sealed, or entered into the public record as an “adjudication” when the offender reaches the age of majority.222 State sex offender registration laws, however, can trump juvenile offender laws. Children thus find themselves subject to the shame and stigma of being identified as sex offenders on online registries, in some cases for the rest of their lives. For example, Kevin A. was adjudicated at age 12 for performing a sex act on a child under 10. He told a journalist, “I was at school, at lunchtime, and one my best friends came up to me and asked me [about my name being found on the online sex offender registry after doing a Google search]. It sort of hit me off balance. It just gave me a feeling of I don’t want to be there, knowing they know what I did wrong.
Every state requires children convicted in adult court of certain kinds of sex crimes to register as sex offenders. Thirty-two states include in their online registries—sometimes for life—youthful offenders who were convicted of specified offenses, regardless of whether they were adjudicated in adult or juvenile courts.224 The Adam Walsh Act requires all states to include in their online registries offenders who were 14 or older at the time they committed specified offenses, or risk the loss of federal funding for law enforcement resources.225 Child offenders are not exempt from state and municipal residency restrictions; even while children they can be prohibited from living with their families in restricted areas.
There are over 750,000 registered sex offenders in the US, and that list is growing fast. The overwhelming majority of those cases are minor or slightly more than minor. In so many the evidence is questionable.
Stop judging people for being on the registry, and start talking to them. You might see some things differently. –http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/misunderstood-crimes/
Just over 38% of offenders in the Nebraska registry had victims age 11 or under. The most common victim age (61.1%) was 12 to 17. Finally, 17.2% of registrants had victims that were 18 or over.
To summarize this analysis, the typical offender in the Nebraska sex offender registry is a white male over the age of 26. The typical victim is a female acquaintance, age 12 to 17. By far, the most common type of offense was fondling. For both the pre-LB 285 risk-based classification system and the post-LB 285 tier system based on offense severity, the most common tier classification (just over 50% in both cases) is Risk Level 3 or Tier 3, the most serious classification for each system. Although violence and/or a weapon was present in almost a quarter of the offenses, serious bodily injury was a rare event (1.1% of offenses).
Sex Crimes Involving Children and Minors
Federal sex crimes involving children and minors may involve any of the following.
– Production, distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography or nudity, such as, sexual exploitation of a child or minor in visual depictions of nudity or sexual conduct in filming or recording sessions, advertisements, books, magazines, and videotapes.
– Transmission of the above depictions over the Internet, in interstate facilities or across state lines.
– Soliciting a minor for sexual activities across state or federal lines.
– Crossing state or federal lines and/or bringing a minor across such lines with the intent to have sex with the minor and/or having sex thereafter.
– Kidnapping or trafficking of a minor or child for the purpose of sex or prostitution.
– Selling or buying a child or minor for the purpose of sex or prostitution.
The USA is caught up in multiple moral panics which can be and are used by many people to gain power and wealth. Right off the bat the registration which began requiring ROS to regularly register and to face a constant battery of new and ever increasingly harsh punishments was in violation of the US Constitution, but if the majority of people are caught up in a moral panic and allow it to happen, then nothing stops it.
The US government has know through their own statistics which they have been collecting in detail as far back as 1985 and earlier that sex offender recidivism for new sex crimes is very low, less than 10% and more likely less than 5%.
What is far more important from the government statistics is that they should be graphed in terms of risk for recidivism versus length of time from release, which sharply decreases over time. So if at the time of release the recidivism rate is 10%, after 1 year it is 7.71%, after 2 years it is 5.95%, after 3 years it is 4.58%, after 6 years it is 2.10% and after 10 years it is 0.74%.
That means the normal parole period of 3 or 6 years covers the majority of recidivism for new sex crime and there is clearly no justifiable reason to keep punishing sex offenders with the horrendous extraordinarily vicious sex offender laws pass the time of parole. The government has been well aware of this.
But, to lie and play up moral panic fear gains power and wealth. Worse, any politician who tries to tell the truth can lose power and lose wealth.
Lies rule the country because lies win in politics. –http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2014/08/sex_offender_registry_laws_have_our_policies_gone_too_far.html
Jacob C. was 11 years old and living in Michigan when he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct for touching his younger sister’s genitals. After serving a three-year sentence, he was placed on the state’s sex offender registry and forced to live separately from his mother and sister, in a foster home. ….Jacob, now 29, continues to be defined in the eyes of the world by an offense he committed at age 11. –http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/07/sex-offenders-aren-t-all-monsters.html
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics:
10.9% of sexual offenders are 18 years of age or younger;
8% are 18-20;
31.2% are 21-29;
40% are 30 or older.
The majority of adult sex offenders are in their teens, 20’s or early 30’s. They usually have a varied criminal background including such crimes as breaking and entering, theft, and physical assault and they usually began their career at an early age.2
The offenders who sexually assault significantly older victims are predominantly young, white single males.
40% of all sexual abuse of children is committed by youth under the age of 18. (Becker, J.B., J. Cunningham-Rather, and M.F. Kaplan. Adolescent Sexual Offenders: Demographics, Criminal Sexual Histories, and Recommendations for Reducing Future Offenses. (4) Journal of Interpersonal Violence (1986):)
In a study at one prison: (Owen, Greg, and Nancy M. Steele. 1991. Incest Offenders After Treatment. Family Sexual Abuse. Sage Publications.)
57% of incarcerated incest offenders were sexually abused as children;
14% were abused by at least one parent;
17% were sexually abused by a sibling;
9% were abused by another relative;
17% were abused by someone outside the family;
37% cited a climate of violence in their childhood homes.
The term “sex offender” conjures up the worst of the worst, and many registered sex offenders have harmed children in unfathomably awful ways.
In more meaningful ways, however, we don’t know what a “typical” sex offender looks like. There is little centralized national data on registered sex offenders, so it is difficult to know how many reflect our idea of the worst of the worst. Research by University of Washington Tacoma professor Alissa Ackerman and colleagues suggests that the overwhelming majority of victims of registered sex offenders are minors—as high as 90 percent in states where the age range of the victim is available. Yet, complicating matters, data makes it hard to identify how many people in the registries were 18 or under themselves at the time of the crime. According to a 2009 research brief* from the U.S. Department of Justice, juveniles—most of them teenagers—account for one-quarter of those convicted of sex offenses (although not necessarily of those registered). Federal law requires people as young as 14 to publicly register for sex crimes, but states vary in their compliance with this law. –http://inthesetimes.com/article/18862/rethinking-prisons-rethinking-sex-offender-registries
> Tens of thousands people are on the sex crime registry for sexual behavior when they were children or adolescents, some as young as ten years old. Their “crimes” include innocently “playing doctor” or normal, consensual, teenage love affairs.
> Many people are on the registry for innocuous crimes, such as breastfeeding or streaking.
> As of 2007, one out of every 220 men in the United States was on the sex crime registry.
> The federal sentence for photographing a 17-year-old with an erection is twice as severe as for attempting to kill him.
> A substantial number of people complain about being labeled as victims when they don’t agree.
Is there more than one type of sex offender?
Sex offenders are an extremely diverse group. They cannot be characterized by single motivational or causal factors. Many typologies have been devel-oped to account for the varieties of sexual deviance. The categories developed by the FBI, which are based on other typologies, are currently used in most criminal investigations. These categories follow.
turn to prepubescent youths for sexual gratification. Two main categories of child molesters exist: (1) situational and (2) preferential (often referred to as pedophiles). Each of these main categories subsumes several subtypes.
Situational child molesters are individuals who do not have a defined sexual preference for children. They include the following subtypes:
immature, socially inept individual who relates to children as peers. This individual may have experienced a brief period of low self-esteem and turned to his own children or others for sexual satisfaction.
antisocial individual who uses and abuses everything he touches. His victims are chosen on the basis of vulnerability and opportunity and only coincidentally because they are children.
individual with vaguely defined sexual preferences who will experiment with almost any type of sexual behavior.
social misfit who may be developmentally disabled, psychotic, senile, or organically dysfunctional.
Preferential child molesters are fixated. That is, they have been attracted to children throughout their lives and have been unable to attain any degree of psychosexual maturity. Subtypes include:
exclusive sexual interest in children and tries to court and seduce them
a fixated interest in children but does not have the social skills to seduce them. Typically he molests strangers or very young children or marries women with children the age of his preference.
a sexual preference for children, coupled with a need to inflict pain in order to obtain sexual gratification.
are motivated by a fusion of anger and power needs and sexuality.
They are often classified according to the characteristics of the assault as
well as of the assailant.
Virtual Offenders tend to be “Situational Offenders,” a term coined by Federal Agent
Kenneth Lanning of the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crimes sponsored by the FBI
(Lanning, 1998). Virtual Offenders are generally “fantasy only” users that experiment in
pedophilic theme chat rooms. http://netaddiction.com/articles/Pedophile.pdf
7 Surprising Things That Could Make You A Sex Offender
Here are some of the more surprising ways you can end up on a sex offender registry:
1) Taking naked photos of yourself — if you’re a minor. Teenagers who take nude photographs of themselves could get charged with child pornography and be put on sex registries, according to a 2013 report from Human Rights Watch. Kids who send naked photos that are viewed in another state could be charged with a federal crime, personal injury lawyer Linda Jane Chalat has written.
A 15-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was charged in 2004 with spreading child porn after taking nude photos of herself and putting them online, according to Human Rights Watch. She was still on the sex offender registry as of 2012.
2) Visiting a prostitute. While former New York governor Eliot Spitzer does not appear to be on New York’s sex offender registry, patronizing a prostitute is considered a “registerable offense” in the Empire State. Until recently, some prostitutes in Louisiana could be registered sex offenders, too.
3) Peeing in public. At least 13 states require sex offender registration for public urination, according to Human Rights Watch’s comprehensive review of sex offender laws in 2007. Two of those states specify that the urination must happen in front of a minor.
4) Flashing your breasts. You can get arrested for indecent exposure in California if you flash your breasts in front of a lot of people in order to gratify yourself or offend somebody else, according to the Shouse Law Group, a group of California criminal defense lawyers. And indecent exposure can land you on the sex offender registry.
5) Having consensual sex with a teenager, even if you’re a teenager, too. At least 29 states require teenagers who have had consensual sex with each other to register as sex offenders, according to the Human Rights Watch Report from 2007. In Georgia, a woman named Wendy Whitaker was on the sex offender registry for years for having sex with a classmate when she was 17 and he was 15.
6) Sleeping with your sister. Incest is not just a social taboo; it’s also illegal in a lot of states. Football player Tony Washington learned that lesson the hard way after getting in trouble for having sex with his 15-year-old sister when he was 16. “I didn’t know it was illegal,” Washington told ESPN in 2010.
Washington, who had an incredibly troubled home life, pleaded guilty to prohibitive sexual conduct, according to the Toronto Star. He was charged under a Texas law that bars sexual contact between family members. He became a registered sex offender. His past continued to haunt him.
7) Giving another child a hug. There’s been momentum recently to get rid of requirements that children register as sex offenders, the Wall Street Journal reported. Five residents of Colorado who were found delinquent for sex crimes as kids recently sued the state to fight a law that forced them to register as sex offenders, according to the Journal.
Since 2005, at least six sex offenders nationwide have been murdered by people who used a state registry to track their victims.
The problems with the sex-registry laws are myriad, starting from their very premises. One of the basic assumptions behind Megan’s Law is that parents who know that a sex offender lives nearby will take precautions; after a decade and a half, however, there’s little research to show that’s happened. A second premise is that sex offenders are somehow different from other criminals and can’t change, but a 2003 study found that sex offenders had a three-year recidivism rate of 5 percent for another sex crime; that compares with a 47 percent rate for other criminals committing another crime. –http://prospect.org/article/life-list