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Youth on Sex Offender Registries

In 2006, the federal Sex Offenders Registration and Notification act (SORNA) required states to list youth convicted of sex-related offenses on adult sex offender registries.  Registration and public notification were thought to protect the public from sexual offenders who had a high probability of reoffending, and to help law enforcement track offenders when sexual offenses occurred.


Research and clinical data have identified significant differences between youth who sexually offend and adult sexual perpetrators. Very few youthful offenders reoffend or evolve into adult perpetrators.  At the same time, youth registration has significant and often life-long detrimental consequences on youths’ development and their well-being.   Some states have changed laws, policies, and procedures to reduce or eliminate this practice, including preventing anyone convicted of a sexual offense in a juvenile court from being placed on a sex offender registry. 


The Center for Child Policy is examining trends in youth sexual offenses in states where reforms have taken place to determine the degree to which registration serves as a deterrent or reduces recidivism.  We are also exploring the practice of binding youth over to adult criminal courts for trial, thereby opening the door for registration after conviction even where reforms have been attempted.  We hope to add our findings to growing clinical data that supports the work of state level advocates in eliminating or reducing the public registration of youthful sex offenders.  

Links to relevant literature on this topic are provided below.  The findings from our research will be posted on this page as they become available. 

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