Criminalization of youth

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Unaffiliated site: Ethical Treatment for All Youth: Advocating for the humane and just treatment of children and teenagers accused of violating sex laws

Society both infantilises and criminalizes minors, making them easy prey for the criminal justice system. Youthful relationships involving small age differences are often prosecuted - leading to a lifelong criminal record, and worse - being placed on the sex offender registry forever limiting their ability to secure housing and employment as well as imprisonment, often in adult prisons. In the case of offenders age 12 or 13, it is often sexual experimentation with peers or younger kids [1] which was once considered normal sexual development [2] that has now been criminalized. Many of these crimes relate to sexting and sending "selfies" to each other which is considered child pornography[3] and which places hundreds, if not thousands, of children on the sex offender registry each year.[4][5][6] This has also led to increasing the suicide rate among young teens and adolescents. In one such instance, a High school student who was arrested and then threatened with being placed on the sex offender registry for streaking at a football game (by his school principal) hung himself.[7] Your child is more likely to end up on the registry than to be molested by someone on it.


The bill HR 4472, which is a federal bill, redefines sex offenders to include not only juveniles convicted or adjudicated for certain coercive sexual behaviors, but also juveniles 14 and over who are convicted or adjudicated for consensual sexual contact with another juvenile who is under 13, or who is more than 4 years younger than themselves. These youth are to be:

  • included in a new national public registry of sex offenders
  • required to produce a DNA sample
  • subject to electronic monitoring for the duration of their supervised release
  • included on the registry and monitored electronically for the rest of their lives if the violation is/was a second offense or if the other juvenile is under 12.

(For the bill text go to and search by bill number, entering HR 4472. Click on the last version of the bill, then click on "Subtitle A" to see that part where it says juveniles are included.)

  • However in many states, due to aggressive state legislation, it is illegal for any person under the age of 18 to engage in consensual sexual behavior even if there is little or no age difference between the participants as they legally cannot consent to have sex and have therefore committed an illegal act or child abuse, and/or statutory rape.[8]


NY: A 7-Year-Old Was Accused of Rape. Is Arresting Him the Answer?

At the forested edge of the Canadian border this spring, state police arrested a person from the hamlet of Brasher Falls, New York, population about 1,000. He was charged with rape.
(Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, US, June 3, 2021)

Should Cops Arrest a 14-Year-Old Boy on Child Porn Charges Because He Sexted?

Redding, Connecticut, cops arrested a 14-year-old boy and charged him with possession of child pornography, harassment, and obscenity. He must be quite the evil young man. (Robby Soave -, US, March 30, 2016)

Sexting scandal: Colorado high school faces felony investigation (2015)

Students at a Colorado high school exchanged hundreds of naked photos of themselves, prompting a felony investigation by police and the forfeiture of a football game because many players have been implicated in the sexting scandal, officials said.[5]

Sexting investigation leads to arrest of Pa. middle school students (2015)

TREDYFFRIN Twp., Pa. -- Police say they have filed charges against three Philadelphia-area middle school students for allegedly distributing intimate photos of other students, according to CBS Philly.[6]

Joliet teens charged with child pornography after group sex video posted to Twitter (2015)

Four Joliet teenagers 14, 15 and 16 - and one female, 15 were charged with child pornography after a group sex video was posted to Twitter and could be detained until they are 21-years-old. Chief Benton said all four teens admitted to being willing participants. Regardless, they are under the age of consent and posting a video engaged in sexual acts online is a crime. [9]

Juvenile sex offenders marked for life (2008)

"They were neighbors, aged 13 and 10, who played together in a toy fort at the older boy's home. But one summer afternoon, the teen began talking about masturbation, then performed oral sex on the younger boy. He said they should do it again the next day. And they did [...] Since 1997, more than 3,500 children in the state -- some as young as 10, though on average about 14 -- have been charged and convicted as felony sex offenders, a mark that remains on their records forever, barring them from careers in medicine, teaching or a host of other professions that serve the vulnerable. It also frightens many into under-the-radar housing arrangements to avoid landlords who require background checks [...] Now a student at the University of Washington, Tyler has a girlfriend and tries to live as normally as possible. But the childhood record has scuttled his hopes of becoming a doctor and, by alienating him from peers who might ask too many questions, paralyzed much of his social development."

Teen couple who photo'd own sex acts prosecuted for child porn (2007)

"Each [16 and 17] was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography." [...] Cmt: "It's a strange anomaly. They're charged for making child pornography and tried as adults. However, the law calls the pictures they produced child pornography, so they should be trying them as minors. Anything less than this is hypocrisy."

Two Teen Girls Face Child Porn Charges ... For Their Own Pictures (2006) (dead link)

"Providence, RI -- Two teenage girls face child pornography charges after posting sexually explicit photographs of themselves on the Internet. The pornographic pictures of Elizabeth Muller, 19, of North Smithfield, and an unidentified 16-year-old Lincoln girl were discovered on, a social networking Web site, said a spokesman for the attorney general's office."

Teen charged for sending nude phone photos (2008)[1]

"NEWARK, Ohio - Police in Newark, Ohio, have arrested a 15-year-old girl on juvenile child pornography charges for allegedly sending nude cell phone photos of herself to classmates. The girl was arrested Friday and held over the weekend. Her defense filed denials in court Monday."

High Schoolers Accused Of Sending Naked Pictures To Each Other (2009)

"Three teenage girls who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude cell phone pictures of themselves, and three male classmates in a Greensburg Salem High School who received them, are charged with child pornography. Police said the girls are 14 or 15, and the boys charged with receiving the photos are 16 or 17. [...] "It was a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude," said Capt. George Seranko of the Greensburg Police Department. Police said school officials learned of the photos in October. That's when a student was seen using a cell phone during school hours, which violates school rules. The phone was seized, and the photos were found on it, police said. When police investigated, other phones with more pictures were seized. "Taking nude pictures of yourself, nothing good can come out of it," said Seranko."

Carpentier, M., Silovsky, J. and Chaffin, J. (2006). "Randomized trial of treatment for children with sexual behavior problems: Ten-year follow-up," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74 , pp. 482-488.

"For example, some state child welfare systems have promulgated special tracking systems for registering, segregating, and handling children identified as having SBP [sexual behaviour problems]. Children with SBP may be segregated within facilities and limited to specialized SBP units. Because preadolescent children as young as 9 years old or occasionally younger are adjudicated as delinquent for sex crimes, some states include these children on lifetime public sex offender registries and Internet sites, and federal legislation has been proposed and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would mandate including all adjudicated children with SBP on lifetime public Internet sex offender registries (Children's Safety Act, 2005)."


See also

External links