"What giants?" said Sancho Panza.
"Those thou seest there," answered his master, "with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long."
"Look, your worship," said Sancho, "what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go."
"It is easy to see," replied Don Quixote, "that thou art not used to this business of adventures; those are giants; and if thou art afraid, away with thee out of this and betake thyself to prayer while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat."
- from Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
In our earnest efforts to address the significant problem of sex offenders, we are including juveniles on public registries with adult child molesters who have clearly violated age and legal boundaries.
And what about the true predators who have led us down this legislative road? Wesley Allan Dodd (executed in 1993) tells in his own words how he progressed from exposing himself at age 13 to murder at age 28. “In a 16-year period, I was reported to police 12 times, made full confessions the last 11 times, was arrested only 6 times, and prosecuted only 3 times, spending no more than 4 months in jail twice, and only 19 days the other time….They could have put me in prison for at least 10 years, and those boys would still be alive.” - "When the Monster Comes Out of the Closet," by Lori Steinhorst
We are attempting to recognize the highly dangerous youth who will become pedophiles, from the vast 90% or more - no one knows how many - whose inappropriate sexual behavior juveniles have engaged in for generations. Advocates have desperately tried to bring attention to the plight of victims for decades and deserve respect for their accomplishment, but now sex crimes have become a media sensation.
"First it's adult predators, and then it's what about children? To draw attention, you have to up the ante. The issue moves up a notch, and you can't move it back easily." - Philip Jenkins, author of "Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America"
- New York Times article, "How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile from a Kid with Real Boundary Problems?"
How damaging will it be to exuberant youth who are branded and punished at the level of adult deviants?
His first suicide attempt was two weeks after his sex offense became known at school.
“Under the Adam Walsh Act, a 35-year-old who has a history of repeatedly raping young girls will be eligible for the public registry, and so will a 14-year-old boy adjudicated as a sex offender for touching an 11-year-old girl’s vagina. According to the law, the teenager will remain on the national registry for life.” - New York Times article, “How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile from a Kid with Real Boundary Problems?”
In 2005, the Wisconsin state legislature listened to 17-year old Amie Zyla’s haunting story. According to a 2006 article in USA Today (PDF), “Zyla began her campaign when Joshua Wade (a family friend), who was sent to a juvenile home for sexually assaulting her when she was 8 and he was 14, was arrested (ten years later) for assaulting numerous children.” The legislators passed Amie’s Law, enabling law enforcement officials to require sex offender registration by juveniles. The public’s right to know of a sex offender living nearby trumps a juvenile’s right to keep court records secret.
However, consider the plight of another youngster, Leah DuBuc, now 22, whose sexual experimentation when she was 10 has branded her as a criminal. DuBuc says that she and her stepbrothers, ages 8 and 5, ‘flashed’ each other and play-acted sex while clothed… “It was stupid child’s play, and now I’m on the list until I’m 37.”
According to a USA Today article, Mark Chaffin, research director at the National Center on Sexual Behavior of Youth at the University of Oklahoma, states: “If treated, juvenile sex offenders are far less likely to commit another offense…. The whole logic of a juvenile system is that your behavior at 8, 9, 10 or even 13 or 14 should not stigmatize you for life.”…The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia and other organizations are considering challenges to the law based on the fact that juveniles are subject to the same registration requirements as adults without the benefit of a jury trial or similar protection.
“As research by the National Institutes of Health shows, our brains don’t finish maturing until we are in our mid-20s. In its 2005 Roper v. Simmons decision, the United States Supreme Court acknowledged this when it said that adolescents, even those as old as 17, were not eligible for the death penalty because they ‘cannot with reliability be classified among the worst offenders,’ because of their immaturity.” - New York Times article, “How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile from a Kid with Real Boundary Problems?”
Recently, Net Family News produced an article on this topic, stating, “Our children are living in a time when impulsive, inappropriate behavior can lead not only to arrest and adjudication, but also public notification via online sex-offender registries....”
“Johnnie, the Delaware teenager on the sex-offender registry, sat slumped in a chair in his therapist’s office.... ‘His first suicide attempt was two weeks after his sex offense became known at school. The day students found out, he told me, ‘My whole world dropped to the ground.’” Nobody yet knows the effect of this public notification on children who are on the register.
Are there other ways to ensure the public’s safety and also ensure the wellbeing of our youth? Last year, “Mark Chaffin, at the University of Oklahoma, and other researchers published the results of a longitudinal study of 135 children ages 5 to 12 who had sexual-behavior problems and participated in a therapy program. The program took just 12 weeks, during which counselors addressed inappropriate sexual behavior, concrete sexual-behavior rules, self-control techniques and sex education. Given that the children were under 13, it’s hard to know if the results can be replicated with older adolescents, though Chaffin has just such a study under way. But in the study of younger children, the 10-year recidivism rate was 2 percent. ‘You can’t get a whole lot lower than that,” Chaffin said. “That’s a functional definition of a cure.’” - New York Times article, “How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile from a Kid with Real Boundary Problems?”
Such an emotionally packed issue deserves attention, discussion and research, not just explosive media coverage. To do nothing to educate children about the laws and then require that they register as sex offenders before they even hit puberty is wrong. There is action that can be taken now that can make a difference, and it doesn’t involve legislation, courts, law enforcement or government intervention.
Children must be taught how to avoid predators and that such behavior is against the law. This is our best defense. The Yello Dyno Program has been age-appropriately addressing this issue for twenty years. We can easily reduce the incidences of “stupid child’s play.” An educated environment will bring to the surface those who are budding child predators. Then treatment, prison or being on sex offender registries can be appropriately applied.
Let Wesley Allan Dodd sum this up for us: “They were bright boys. They knew there was something wrong. I could tell they were scared, but they didn’t resist." (Read Dodd's own warning to children.)
You hold the key. Are you going to help teach our children to protect themselves?
Yours for child safety,
Yello Dyno Founder
P.S. I will provide updates about this topic in my Yello Dyno blog, Around Jan's Kitchen Table, and I encourage all of you to continue sharing information and commentary on this and other important topics about the safety of our children.
P.S.S. Bookmark this Yello Dyno web page REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS - we will keep it up to date with articles, laws and links on this topic.
Educators, Non-profits, Churches and Law Enforcement: to have a Yello Dyno Curriculum sent to you for a thirty-day review, fill out this online form, or call me at 888-935-5639 ext. 100 or email me at Jan@YelloDyno.com
Comments? Ideas for future memos? Contact me: Jan@YelloDyno.com.
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