New Laws Affecting Teens Who Offend

Can a child be charged criminally for sexual behavior?

Children can be legally charged for criminal sexual conduct. The laws in each state vary, but in some cases children can be charged criminally for sexual behaviors with other children. Depending on the severity of the activity, the behavior could fall under the legal definitions of abuse and a child could be charged. If you are uncertain about whether the sexual behavior could be considered criminal, learn the statutes by consulting your Attorney General’s office or get a sex-specific evaluation from a specialist. If you are having difficulty setting or enforcing boundaries between children, you should seek specialized help. Intervening early is very important for the benefit of the sexually aggressivee child – as the legal risk only increases as he/she gets older.

Laws which affect teens in the United States

You may be aware of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA) passed in July 2006. This new federal law, which includes the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act (SORNA), expands the definition of sex offender to include certain juveniles in the registry requirements. Specifically, any juvenile 14 or over at the time of the offense who has committed sexual abuse by force or threat or any sex act with a person under the age of 12 must register as a sex offender. Information such as name, address, employer, and school may be included with offense type.

Current state laws are in effect until State Legislatures decide whether or not to comply with The Adam Walsh Act. Individual states must comply with the conditions in SORNA to receive Federal funding for sex offender management efforts. State legislatures across the country are grappling with the requirement to make a decision by July 2009. Some state lawmakers, very concerned about the impact on juveniles previously not subject to registry requirements, are considering the possibility of not complying. A few states have already approved compliance. Expressing your concerns to your state legislators is an important step to take. To easily access their contact information, go to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

How will the new laws impact my child?

If your child could be or is court-involved, now is the time to have conversations with the professionals you are currently involved with about the possible impact of this legislation on your family. The National Center on Sexual Behavior of Youth website lists existing statutes applied to juveniles by state under the heading “Sex Offender Registry Laws.” Web address.. You can also contact your state Attorney General for the most up-to-date information for your state through the National Association of Attorneys General website.

For a child to recover the whole family must heal.

The prospect of separating family members can be frightening and can even add to the trauma the family is already facing. We encourage you to seek the support of other families who have been through a similar experience and remain as connected as possible to a child who is temporarily removed from the home. Learn more about what your child is going through and how you can support his/her recovery and successful reunification with family members when everyone is ready.