The current sex offender registry system is flawed. Otherwise consensual sex punishable as statutory rape or the possession and distribution of “child pornography” that sexting between teens has been come to be viewed as can land a teenager on the list for a term of year up to life.
Human Rights Watch has said enough is enough; the current sex offender registration system is doing little to alert or protect the public and doing much to stigmatize and mark someone who has already paid their debt to society through serving time in prison or on supervision. Human Rights Watch cites the cases of two 12-year-olds who were convicted of sex crimes and forced to register as sex offenders. Both committed suicide before reaching 18, citing the harassment they endured as a result of being on the registry.
To be clear, the age of consent in North Carolina is 16. Children and teens under that age are not able to legally consent to a sex act, which can lead to a statutory rape charge against another teen who thought he or she was having a consensual sexual encounter with a partner.
For juveniles specifically, being forced to register as a sex offender can limit the ability to attend school as there are usually proximity restrictions related to being near other minors. Those same restrictions can make it difficult for families who are already dealing with the aftermath of a criminal process not well-equipped to deal with juvenile offenders by forcing the child out of the home if there are other minors in the family who live there as well.
Commented one registered offender who was put on the list at the age of 14 for having what he had thought was consensual sex with a 12 year old, “Our mistake is forever available to the world to see. You are never done serving your time. There is never a chance for a fresh start.”
Source: WSOCTV, “Sex-offender registries: Should kids be listed?,” May 1, 2013