Sex offenders are people, too.
You probably won’t see that on bumper stickers soon, but it is the sentiment I try to convey when explaining my views of how our society should respond to sexual offenses committed by children. It’s one thing to tell an audience that research studies show young sex offenders respond well to treatment and — when reached with appropriate therapy — are not likely to offend again. But research and data don’t carry the impact of a personal story.
As part of the follow up to the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s recent report on juvenile sex offenses, we have begun interviewing young people who have been adjudicated for a sex offense to see how conviction and registration statutes have changed their lives. We also want to know more about how the victims have been affected.
What follows is the story of one young male, his sister and their family. Of course, their names, locations and current employments have been disguised. The mother heard some news coverage at the time of our report release and called us to offer help and to tell their story as representative of the harm that can be done by sex offender registries. Let’s call the participants Mike, Mary, Mother and Father.