What is the Most Common Age of a Sex Offender? (Surprise!)


Readers, here’s my zirtkzhfsk
piece on sex offender laws that’s in today’s New York Post
. If you have sons, it might give you pause.

Bogus ‘sex offender’ labels are ruining lives

by Lenore Skenazy

What’s the most common age of sex-offenders?

It’s not a trick question, but unless you follow this stuff closely you’ll almost certainly answer wrong.

In fact, most people are shocked to learn that the most common age of people charged with a sex offense isn’t a creepy 39, or 51.

It’s 14.

That’s right. As the US Bureau of Justice reports: “The single age with the greatest number of offenders from the perspective of law enforcement was age 14.”

Why so young? Because people tend to have sex with people around their own age, which means young people tend to have sex with other young people. And much under-age sex is illegal.

So we keep throwing kids on the registry and labeling them sex offenders, as if they’re incorrigible monsters. But in Britain, a study recently commissioned by Parliament has recommended a totally different course: Trying to understand, treat and refrain from labeling the kids, since children often “make mistakes as they start to understand their sexuality and experiment with it.”

What happens when we turn teens and even tweens into sex offenders?

The punishment and stigma can follow them for years, even decades. A study by Human Rights Watch gave the example of Jacob, a boy found guilty of inappropriately touching his sister when he was 11.

Because this got him placed on the sex offender registry, he was not allowed to live near other children, including siblings. So he was sent to live in a juvenile home, and eventually placed with foster parents.

Now 26, Jacob is still on the sex-offender registry, still unable to live near a school, playground or park.

(Even though study after study has shown these residency restrictions do not make the public any safer.)

Meantime, he has had a hard time finding work, because who wants to hire a sex offender?

And so, concluded Human Rights Watch, “his life continues to be defined by an offense he committed at age 11” — an offense that most likely didn’t indicate anything other than a young man in need of guidance.

Then I go on to describe an incident you read about here in 2011: Two 14-year-olds pulled down their pants and, disgustingly, sat on two 12-year-olds’ faces. Gross and reprehensible. But the punishment was even moreso.

Under Megan’s Law, they are now sex offenders, on the registry…for life.

An appellate court upheld the sentence in 2011, so both young men will be on the sex-offender registry until they die. As 40-year-olds, heck, as 80-year-olds, they’ll be treated as perennial perverts for something they did in junior high.

This is not only horrifying, it flies in the face of what we have learned about sex offenders (and not just the young ones), which is that contrary to public perception, the vast majority of people on the registry never offend again.

In short: Not only is the age that people get on the registry appalling, but so is the registry itself, which has been shown over and over again not to make our kids any safer. At this point, our children are more likely to end up ON the list than to be molested BY someone on it.

The sex offender laws keep getting more extreme and over-reaching, because pointless excess is an easy way for politicians to act as if they care about kids and safety…while actually ruining people’s lives.

Including a lot of lives starting at age 14. – L.


Young kids make up a great number of registered sex offenders. (Photo by Husin.Sani)

Young kids make up a great number of registered sex offenders. (Photo by Husin.Sani)


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91 Responses to What is the Most Common Age of a Sex Offender? (Surprise!)

  1. Edward Hafner July 26, 2016 at 11:33 am #


    Thank you for say this –

    “The sex offender laws keep getting more extreme and over-reaching, because pointless excess is an easy way for politicians to act as if they care about kids and safety…while actually ruining people’s lives.”


  2. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    The registry should be for real sex offenders. The kind that rape others. Not teens having little control over their urges. Or someone who couldn’t wait to go so was going outside. The registry wasn’t meant for mean and disgusting folks who shove their junk in others faces. But this what we get when idiots in charge. They can’t keep anything simple. Even they way they write laws is complicated.

  3. Workshop July 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    Theresa, I disagree.

    Politicians want to be reelected. People want to be protected from bad people. Therefore, people put politicians in office who promise to protect them from bad people.

    Some people in office are very smart. More often, they get fed information much like we do, and respond accordingly. Who is out there demanding grace? No, the voices the politicians hear are from the fearful.

    Furthermore, the law is extremely simplistic. “Do X and Y happens.” No room for interpretation, no room for judgement.

    “For every complex problem there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

  4. Mandy July 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    The sex offender registry is pretty pointless now – it doesn’t protect kids and is only causing heartache to many families. It’s time it was gone.

  5. April July 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    I agree there are so many name of people that are on the lists that did some thing minimal as a child. However there should be a rule when you turn 18 your record is wiped clean. It is crucial to hold some one accountable to there actions when they are just a minor we need to use more discursion and there should be a parent involved. We cane shame mothers for breast feeding there children in public but we cant make a comment of people over sexualizing there children. There are plenty of terrible horrible people out there in Homes with children, foster care, and others in close proximity of community family events. In reality not every one can be protected at once but we are suppose to protect our children from adults so unless they committed the crime as an adult it should deleted at age 18.

    My cousins were abused from people there mother chose as a male suitor to there forester care dad, we have to really think about where our priorities need to be.

  6. Reziac July 26, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    I’m sorry to say, I saw the headline and said, “About 14, I would guess”… and read on to find I was correct. 🙁

    This is a terrible indictment of the entire “sex offender” legal concept.

  7. Mary July 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    I think by 14 a young adult should be held accountable. I agree and parents need to be more diligent in teaching and modeling decency and monitoring computer time and content. Sorry on this one I’m with labeling. Maybe then the 14 year olds will keep their pants on.

  8. LauraL July 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    Mary, my son was just barely hitting puberty at 14, so it’s not like he’d had years to adjust to the idea. It’s too arbitrary an age when considering the variances of that time of a young person’s life. Teach, some consequences, reminders, and impress an understanding of what he did to the other person – how unkind and thoughtless it was – and go from there. I am totally in agreement with the idea that 18 it wipes clean, with the admonishment that such a thing happening as an adult will have much more severe consequences.

  9. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Workshop you want a real rapist not on the list? Our government can do their homework like anyone else but if they choose just to listen to others then they end up like henny penny in the story who cried the sky is falling. Yes there are fear mongers they are not in charge and nobody has to listen. I’m sure they can get some votes from the not a rapist but stuck on the list crowd if they put only real rapist on it.

  10. Beth July 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    Do not think for a moment this can not happen to your family. My son at 16 was very stupid and is now in prison. No one is safer because of this. We have allowed our legislators to create a tangle web of laws that do not work, but they are afraid to reverse the decisions; they like my son at 16 have made many stupid mistakes.

  11. Tim July 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    @Mary You have started that you are fine with destroying the life of a fourteen year old child for the crime of engaging in juvenile behavior. That sickens me.

  12. David Holzman July 26, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    Thanks Lenore. You’re a wonderful voice of sanity.

  13. Workshop July 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    Theresa, “our government” is not any more intelligent than us citizens. And if you look around, you’ll notice that there are lots of citizens who aren’t people you’d want making decisions about your life.

    I am less worried about a legitimate criminal not being on the list, correct. Given the fact that the vast majority of people on the list will not reoffend, the real danger is “false positives.” That is, people who don’t belong on the list and getting a scarlet letter for the rest of their lives.

  14. Workshop July 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    Mary, I hope you aren’t judged by the things you did at 14. I’m not sure if you remember that age, but it was when you thought you were smarter than all the adults surrounding you, when you started to get the first taste of the freedom that adulthood brings and yet were protected because so many still saw you as a child.

    I was a pretty good kid, and I know I don’t want to have people judge me by the stuff I did thirty years ago.

  15. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    Somehow when people get power over other’s lives they lose all sense. I don’t want dumb teens on the list anymore than you but if someone is willing to really rape they can do as many times as they want if something doesn’t stop them. I sorry that politicians are too scared to stand for what right instead what easy but unless you want to run what to be done?

  16. SanityAnyone? July 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    That’s really scary. What is considered an offense? A first kiss? As a Mom of a curious, warm and out-going rising eighth grader, this really scares me.

  17. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Sanity I believe it coming in contact with private parts and of course having sex with anyone under 18. Though I would lay off hand holding and kissing at school. Some people in charge of schools hate the idea of teens in love and showing it. And no naughty pictures allowed ever if you want a life because if a minor see them you pay even if you’re the one in the picture and the minor in question. Or even an adult taking pictures of yourself.

  18. Workshop July 26, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Theresa, there is something that stops repeated rape: prison. And as I stated: Most of the people on the sex offender list do not do it again.

    Your fear of someone holding your child’s hand means you want the offending child on a sex offender registry for life? That seems rather extreme. Who is peddling the fear now?

  19. James Pollock July 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    “Theresa, there is something that stops repeated rape: prison.”

    Unless you count prison rapes, sure.

  20. Warren July 26, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    Do you truly believe being on the registry will stop a rapist?
    The registry is an out dated tool. It was meant for law enforcement only. With the technology and search engines we have now a registry isn’t needed. Other than to make mindless people feel safe. It is a joke.

  21. NY Mom July 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Siblings used to change the little ones’ diapers and clean them up after accidents.
    is it correct to assume that that to do so is now against the law in some states? all states?

    Should we expect laws against fourteen year olds’ babysitting?
    Are all fourteen year olds potential criminals or only the boys?

    i think we need to go back to GO and reassess all these sex offender laws. Sounds to me like a lot of so-called sex offenders deserve a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

    Do these laws by any chance date to the tough on crime era of the 80’s when we were building bigger and better prisons and filling them willy-nilly?


  22. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

    Unless we keep the rapist in prison it is better than nothing. I don’t care about some kids holding hands with each other. I might not want a total stranger doing it with my kid but that is different.

  23. NY Mom July 26, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    So we might conclude that the best way to protect our precious daughters is to send them to walled and gated convent schools, as in times gone by.
    “Get thee to a nunnery.”
    How old was Juliet?
    Some say fourteen, some say thirteen.

  24. bmommyx2 July 26, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    Our sex offender laws obviously need some revision. It’ seems that there needs to be a better definition & age needs to be a consideration

  25. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    I looked at the first 30 names on my county’s sex offender list. One was 15, one was 17, two were 18 when they committed the act that landed them on the sex offender’s list. And of those 4, 2 had victims that were very, very young (5 and under 12).

    Given this, I have a very hard time believing that the average age of a person on the sex offender’s list is 14. I am very sure that this is not true for my county.

    I have no doubt that the sex offender registry does nothing to promote public saftey, but one should not mislead about it either.

    Everyone should look at their county’s list and see how many 14 year olds are on it.

  26. Warren July 26, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

    David Smith
    Time to go back to school for you. Then you can learn the difference between common and average. Neither Lenore nor her sources stated the average was 14.

  27. marie July 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    “The single age with the greatest number of offenders from the perspective of law enforcement was age 14.”

    Dave, Lenore is not talking about average age. If I understand correctly, you will find more 14yo RSOs than 21yo RSO. More 14yo than 44yo. More 14yo than 8yo (well, thank heaven for that much, I guess).

    The part I find curious is “the perspective of law enforcement.” One would think simply counting up the number of offenders for each age wouldn’t require a particular “perspective.”

  28. Ellen Wilson July 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Sex offender registries should most assuredly not be abolished, they should be used intelligently and taken seriously.

    My ex was a 65-year-old male teacher who was serial a sexual predator on and off over decades of his underage teenage female students–most before I met him. He amassed a huge offender file with the state’s Department of Children & Families, yet never lost his teaching credentials because the records were kept secret, even from me–let alone from his employers, his victims and their families. I eventually learned that he always targeted girls from troubled and dysfunctional families, positioning himself as a concerned, caring, and mentoring adult, consistently exploiting the most vulnerable victims with this charade.

    Please bear in mind that in the real world, not ALL sex offenders placed on registries are randy 14-year-old boys.

  29. Muriel Strand, P.E. July 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    the court & prison system is a poor solution for many situations of which this is one.

  30. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Pedantic. What exactly do you think was the intent of this post? It was to make people think that the sex offender’s list was filled with young teenagers. It’s not. I don’t have any evidence that the mode of those who are on the sex offender’s list is 14. (or more precisely the mode of the age of person when they committed the act that landed them on the list.) I could not even find one.

    On the contrary, I found that many of the offenders were 30-70 year old people that had some inappropriate contact with a child. These were not teens screwing each other.

    Of course it could be that law enforcement investigates a bunch of 14 year olds and few of them get on the sex offenders list. But that is not what this article is about.

    Again, I just don’t see any 14 year olds on my county’s sex offender’s list. Maybe my county is different.

  31. C. S. P. Schofield July 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    It occurs to me that what the sex offender registry really is is a way to brand “criminals” for life without all the messy, nasty business wth a red hot iron. Lots of societies used to do exactly that, and are wide,y condemned for it. Maybe if “putting someone on the Sex Offender Registry” involved actually hranding them, and the people who think the Registry is a swell idea had to watch, enthusiasm for it would wane.

  32. James Pollock July 26, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    “It occurs to me that what the sex offender registry really is is a way to brand “criminals” for life without all the messy, nasty business wth a red hot iron.”

    I don’t think it’s NEARLY that ominous.

    The registry started with the idea that people should know if there are dangerous, predatory offenders near them. That is, people who pose an actual, present danger. You’d know not to send your son to Dangerous Predator Sports Camp, or trust your little girls to Dangerous Predator Family Daycare. You might think about it a little bit more before allowing your kids to hang out at the neighbor’s house. (I’m phrasing it in terms of children, but adults might want to be leery of actual, dangerous individuals, too.)

    The challenge, of course, is accurately labeling people who are actually, presently, dangerous. Then, the wheels start coming off… what if we have a chance to apply the label to someone, choose not to, and it turns out that they actually are presently dangerous and they re-offend? We might get blamed. People with connections find ways to not get on the list, while people without connections get put on. We’d better make it mandatory, so it’s fair. Speaking of fair, we can’t list THIS group and leave THAT group off… they’re both sex offenders, after all, so let’s put the guys who tried to hire a prostitute on the same list as guys who tried to forcibly rape a busload of nuns. What you wind up is a list of all the people who are actually, presently dangerous… plus about a million other people who really aren’t. None of the individual decisions that went into making things the way they are is indefensible, but the sum total of all of them is to make the whole point irrelevant. I no longer have a list of people who are actually, presently, dangerous which I can use to help protect myself and my family.

  33. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    #marie, Yes, your explanation is very likely correct. If it is, the 14 year old label is meaningless. It could be the case that 2% of sex offenders are 14 (or were 14 when their crime was committed) and that 14 is the most common age. People from 10 to 80 are on it, so the percentage in each age will be very small. Sorry, but this tells us very little.

    What I would like to know is what percentage of people on the list were placed on the list when they were minors. In my unscientific sample of 30, only two were minors when their offense was committed. My county’s sex offender’s list has 291 names. The population of my county is about 135000. So about 20 minors are on the sex offenders list. That really stinks for them.

    I have a 13 year old son. I’m not too worried about this. As a matter of national policy, this should be changed. But as a matter of how I live my life, I’m not that concerned.

  34. Donald Christensen July 26, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    One one side of the coin:
    At 14 years of age, the brain isn’t developed enough to make a decision about sex. This is why the law states that a minor isn’t even capable of sex being ‘consensual’. Therefore underage sex is rape.

    One the other side of the coin:
    At 14 years of age and sometimes as young as 11, the brain is mature enough to know right from wrong and therefore is capable of making a mistake that carries a life sentence of punishment.

    This is as if there is a ‘creep/pervert’ gene. If this gene is discovered in a male then the public must be protected from this monster. It makes no difference if this gene rears its ugly head at age 14. Society must protect itself.

    Once upon a time, the sex offense registry was a tool for police to tract sex offenders. The information of the people on this list was only available to police. However since the list has become public information, this ‘tool’ has steadily transitioned from being a tool for police and has become more of a tool for political grandstanding.

    And it works great. It helps get politicians elected. Mary isn’t the only one that swallows this crap hook, line, and sinker.

  35. Donald Christensen July 26, 2016 at 6:45 pm #


    I believe you. I’m also not knowledgeable about the list. However I heard that there is no information about the offense or at what age it was committed. If that is true then a 47 year old person on the list may have gotten on it at age 17.

    My biggest problem with the list is that it treats all sex offenders the same. In this I agree with James. OMG that’s scary! I think I’ll get a CAT scan!

    “…..so let’s put the guys who tried to hire a prostitute on the same list as guys who tried to forcibly rape a busload of nuns”.

  36. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Look at the list. In my county the year of the offense the age of the victim and the birthday of the person on the list are there. The offense is also listed. I looked at the first 30 names of the list of the county next to me. Zero minors.

    Look at the list in your area and see for yourself. I live in Texas. Maybe it is different here. But there is not one person on the list in my county that I’d let watch my kids.

  37. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 7:09 pm #

    The list does not treat everyone the same. The offense is listed. So if a 19 year old was caught having sex with a 17 year old you could figure that out. If a 60 year old assaulted a 5 year old you can find that out too.

    Look at the list.

  38. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    Public urination also must not get you on the list. There is a 10,000 person university in my town. If everyone caught for that was on the list forever the list would be longer that 291 names.

  39. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    Dave I heard of someone who got on the list for going because he was caught doing so by some kid. So it can happen.

  40. Dave smith July 26, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

    I said must not. It can happen. But it does not seem to be common. If everyone caught peeing outside were forever on the sex offender list the list would be longer than it is. A few in my county were charged with exposure. That could be public urnation.

    I’ll reiterate this article is sensationalized. This is an important issue and reform is needed. But it is not the apocalypse.

  41. TruthBTold July 26, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    One kid shot himself after having to register as a sex offender. Another kid was found hanging in his room after the principal of his high school threatened him “on t.v.” that he may have to register as a sex offender. THEY ARE BOTH DEAD BEACAUSE OF FORCED HORSE SHIT LEGISLATION!!!





  42. Warren July 26, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    Ellen and Dave

    Present just one way in which the registry keeps anyone safe. Just one that only happens because the registry. You won’t be able to and yet millions are spent yearly on it, as well as the countless hours wasted by law enforcement on it.

  43. Will July 26, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    This article nails it on the head; for the most part. The U.S. is pathological and so hypocritical when it comes to sex and children. Look at the overt sexual content in video games, music, commercials, prime time television, the internet, etc…and then when curiosity is stoked and they react they’re labeled as deviants.

  44. Theresa July 26, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

    Unless the people in charge figure out the difference between homore crazy teens who have trouble controlling their desires and actual rapist this is what we’re stuck with. Because for some reason we can’t lock up these sexual predators for rest of their lives so that they can’t do it again.

  45. Lauren July 26, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    Dear Ellen “Troll” Wilson

    Please understand that tabs must be kept on your ex-hubby and not on kids who have committed “romeo and Juliet crimes, homeless person who urinated in public, etc.

  46. Tina L July 26, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    Watch Catherine Carpenter’s explanation of the sex offender registry; you will be thoroughly pissed off at congress!!!

  47. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

    I never said the registry kept us safe. I said the opposite. My point was that It’s not filled with 14 year olds. Please look at the registry in your county and count the number of people who are non violent offenders who were minors when placed on the registry in my county the mumber is zero. Think for yourself

  48. Dave Smith July 26, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Our kids are notin constant danger from creeps. But they are not in constant danger from the government either. I guess we all become what we fight.

  49. Warren July 26, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

    So based on your Google abilities you are accusing the US Bureau of Justice of fraud. This is not Lenore’s research it is the Bureau ‘s.
    And no I won’t check our local registry. Raised three kids and never once looked at it.

  50. TNF 13 July 26, 2016 at 11:38 pm #

    Thank you for contributing to the chorus of voices loudly proclaiming that the registry has ceased to protect the children it was designed to shield from sex crimes. It is nice to see facts to counter the fear and hype that has gripped our nation.

    -TNF 13, Advocate for the primary prevention of child sexual abuse

  51. J.T. Wenting July 26, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

    Mary, “I think by 14 a young adult should be held accountable”.
    If you think like that, I’m sure you’ll also agree that a teen caught stealing some candy should be tried as an adult and end up with a felony conviction of burglary and be sent to a federal prison for 5 years, there to be raped and forced to become a gang courier and hitman?

    Because that’s the other side of the “we must protect the children by punishing them as adults” mantra you spout.

    No. In fact those 14 year olds should not be deemed criminals at all for having sex (or more likely, not having sex but stripping partially naked in company).
    They should be treated as the children they are, get a good talking to from their parents, and left to figure it out for themselves.
    They’re harming nobody.
    Now, if they were to actually rape another child (an infinitely small chance) they should be tried and convicted for that.
    But that leads to the ever broadening definition of rape which now includes taking a woman’s hand before she’s signed a consent form.

  52. bmj2k July 27, 2016 at 12:05 am #

    @ Mary, I agree that a 14 year old should be held accountable.
    But this is not the way.
    Two underage kids experimenting does not demand that a life be ruined forever.

  53. Katie G July 27, 2016 at 6:27 am #

    I agree fully with the whole article, and that’s with having Cousin A having been molested at age 9 by Cousin B (age 14 at the time, not her brother but other cousin). Cousin B was the exception about re-offending. He did. But it’s not even the sex offenses that have him ending his days in TX’s death row, it’s a murder.

    Some kind of revision at least has to happen.

  54. Angela July 27, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    Dave Smith – Texas, like some other states, has a “Romeo and Juliet” law on the books, meaning that consensual sex between two young people is not a crime as long as they are within 2-4 years age of each other (age difference depends on the state). Two 15 year olds – no crime. A 20 year old and a 10 year old – crime. This would put Texas on the lower end of these cases.

    Not all states have these types of laws. In many states, having sex with someone under age is a crime *period.* In these states, I’d be willing to bet the statistics are skewed very differently.

  55. Warren July 27, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    You have to think how many young offenders are on the list because of how the parents react.
    Parents overreact to what is natural behavior and their child comes back with “I didn’t want to but he made me.”

    And let’s not forget that the girl is always the victim never the instigator or willing participants.

  56. sexhysteria July 27, 2016 at 9:46 am #

    Wow – 14-year-olds are the most frequent sex offenders. We ought to put all prudes on a psychopath registry.

  57. K2 July 27, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    I don’t think 14 year-olds should be put on a list for life, but I also don’t think sex should be so common it is almost expected at that age. The boys should be taught some respect for the girls and should not have the attitude that if they don’t “put out” they are undateable. Getting girls pregnant at that age should have some long-term financial strings tied to it. I think jail is called for when diseases are spread. Gee, maybe if we let them go roller skating without Mom hovering they wouldn’t be in the back bedroom doing it. Maybe some at least?

  58. Steve July 27, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    It strikes me that one outstanding feature of US culture is that criminality is always punished for life.

    Someone who commits any crime and goes to prison will find it difficult, if not impossible, to get a job ever again.

    Someone who has ever been arrested, even if the arrest was unlawful and charges never brought can find it very difficult to ever get a job again.

    And the USA has a recidivism rate, re-offending, well over 70%. Is it any wonder why??

    Its as if, once someone steps outside of the ‘system’ they must be forever ostracised and can never be re-admitted to society again.

  59. BL July 27, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    “The boys should be taught some respect for the girls and should not have the attitude that if they don’t “put out” they are undateable. Getting girls pregnant at that age should have some long-term financial strings tied to it.”

    The above seems to imply the girls are passive victims and aren’t willing participants. Aren’t 14-year-old girls reputed to be more mature than 14-year-old boys?

  60. Theresa July 27, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    I hate to say this but girls are not more mature than boys. They just act differently in their immaturity then boys. And anyone can be talk into something including sex. And yes both sexs have to take responsibility for their behavior but the consequences of sex are different for boys than girls. Boys can’t get pregnant.

  61. Dave Smith July 27, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    Warren, I did not use Google. Or any search engine. I went to my county sheriff’s office on the web and looked at the sex offenders. I found no 14 year olds. I did find a 15 year old. His victim was 5.

    This article is hysterical. Many, many young teens have sex, get caught, and do not get on the sex offender’s list. Again, only 1 in 500 people in my county is on the list. Almost none of those are minors. Yet this article has a picture that says a “great number” of registered sex offenders are young kids. I cannot verify that, at least in my region.

    If you look at the actual report from the justice department (again, no search engine was used), you’ll find appendix A. The table in appendix A suggests indeed that the “mode” of the distribution is 14. This is, however, a bit in dispute since if you look at the “raw” data, the mode is 30, not 14.

    Furthermore, if you look deeper into the report, the data is quite disturbing. On page 9, you will see a series of tables that reports the age profiles of sexual assault offenders within victim age categories. The age of the offender peaks around 14 in two of the graphs presented. In those two graphs the age of the victims are categorized as “under age 6” and “ages 6 through 11” In these categories the most common age of the offender is 13-14. When the victim is age 12-17, the “most common” age of the offender is about 17. When the victim is 18 or older, the most common age of the offender is about 22 or 23. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf

    So, in other words these 14 year olds that are the most common sex offenders are committing acts against those who are 11 years old or younger. It’s very common for the victim to be 5 or younger.

    To reiterate: when the victim is 12-17, the most common age of the offender is 17, NOT 14. ONLY when the victim is 11 or younger, the most common age of the offender is 14. Mental illness might play a role here, so I’m not going to chastise these offenders, but I’m not going to defend them very much either. If I were to write an article about this, that might be my focus.

    Is the sex offender list the best way to promote public safety? Almost certainly not. But I’m not going to misrepresent what is going on here.

    I’m not, nor have I ever accused the justice department of fraud. I’m apparently the only one commenting here that actually looked at the sex offender list and actually went and read the report trumped in this article.

    I’m accusing the blogger and her editor at the newspaper of not checking facts very well. When I read this report, I come to a wholly different conclusion. Someone above told me I needed to go back to school. I don’t. I have Ph.D. in economics and am a tenured professor with a stack of publications. I know what I’m doing. And one thing I don’t do is blindly accept the claims of what I read on the internet. (Who else would have time to type this at work?) The person who ridiculed me for using “Google” needs to quit relying on blogs to get their information and needs to think for him/herself.

    This blog is about raising kids without “going nuts with worry.” The premise is that the world is not a dangerous place to be a kid. Well, I think that includes not going nuts with worry about your child landing on the sex offender’s list. If your 14 year old assaults a five year old baby, he or she might. But if your 14 year old has “consensual” sex with a classmate, that’s not very likely. Hundreds of thousands of junior high kids do that every year, and the number of them that have contact with the criminal justice system must astonishingly small, given that our courts are not clogged with minors who had sex.

  62. BL July 27, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    “And anyone can be talk into something including sex.”

    Uh, really? Nobody can ever say no to anything? Actually, some of us can.

  63. Qute July 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm #


    “…I also don’t think sex should be so common it is almost expected at that age. The boys should be taught some respect for the girls and should not have the attitude that if they don’t “put out” they are undateable. Getting girls pregnant at that age should have some long-term financial strings tied to it. I think jail is called for when diseases are spread. Gee, maybe if we let them go roller skating without Mom hovering they wouldn’t be in the back bedroom doing it. Maybe some at least?”

    It all depends on where you live but fundamentally sex ISN’T that common at 14. Sexual curiosity is but that’s not the same as having sex and I don’t know anyone, including teenagers, who consider it expected at that age. I’ve raised three teenagers — well 2. The third is just beginning his teen journey.

    Also – as a mother of boys – I would say not only should boys be continued be taught to respect girls but it also goes the other way. There are girls who will say all sorts of nasty things about boys who won’t sleep with them too.

    Getting girls pregnant at ANY age has long-term financial strings tied to it. It’s called child-support.

    Additionally, teenage pregnancy rates in the US are at almost historic lows so we’re not talking about an epidemic of teenage pregnancies here. The conversation isn’t even necessarily about intercourse. If one student sends another student a picture of their naked body both students can be prosecuted for engaging in child pornography and both be put on the sex offenders list for life.

    And jailing people for spreading disease?!?!?! That’s horrific. There are too many people locked up for ridiculous reasons now. I’m not saying knowingly spreading STDs isn’t a bad thing — and people HAVE been jailed/fined for that sort of thing. But then you start getting to the slippery slope of 5 year-olds playing on the playground and someone catching a cold and parents trying to litigate against each other for it.

  64. Matt July 27, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    Just a thought I had while looking for my 1st home. If you see a sex offender dot on the map around a home you’re thinking about purchasing is the dot going to affect your purchase decision? What are these dots doing to property values? If they are having a negative impact on home values I would hope it’s for a legitimate concern and not for consensual underage sex or a mistake a young person made. And for the people who are gung ho about making stricter laws and making the list even easier to get on I say be careful what you wish for as one of those dots could easily pop up in your neighborhood maybe even your own home

  65. Dave Smith July 27, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    Do you all realize that the offenses in the report almost always include the word “forcible” don’t you? Almost all the comments seem to assume we are discussing consensual activities between curious teenagers. I don’t think this is the case. At least there is nothing in the report itself that would lead to that conclusion.

  66. Dave Smith July 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    Matt, I’ve never looked at the registry before deciding were to live.

    But I imagine it does affect values. If there was a dot next the house I was wanting to buy, and the offender was a 50 year old man who assaulted a 5 year old, I’d look else where. If it was a 14 year old who had sex with a 14 year old, I might not mind. Lots of things impact property value. Your neighbor has a big RV? That hurts too.

    The sex offender list could be misused in the manner. Do you live next to the DA? Well, then you don’t have to be on the list, for example.

  67. Papilio July 27, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    Now that Dave Smith is starting to make sense (the long comment from July 27, 2016 at 11:38 am), I am curious to see Lenore’s response… Lenore?

  68. Dave Smith July 27, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    I’d like to see a response as well. (Before the long comment, I was typing on my phone. It was hard to really write much clearly.)

  69. marie July 27, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    Dave, nice work with the statistics. Thanks.

    It is common for the anti-registry people to draw attention to the juveniles on the registry or the Romeo & Juliet cases or the public urination cases. I am definitely anti-registry but not just because of the sympathetic cases. Even the violent offenders should not be on the registry. The violent offender should get a prison sentence proportionate to the crime. As it is now, even the lesser crimes are getting longer and longer sentences. Why? Because legislators like to be seen as tough on crime, and increasing the sentence length for the icky crimes no one wants to defend is a sure-fire way to be seen that way.

    Why do I say that no one should be on the registry? Because the registry is sold as a way to protect your family from creeps and perverts but it does not do that. Creeps and perverts who complete their court-ordered sentence rarely re-offend, so the registry is protecting us from people we need no protection from. MOST people on the registry are non-violent, first-time offenders who will not offend again. The perpetrators of the seriously violent crimes may never be listed on the registry (or not be listed until a few decades have passed) because they are in prison for a long time.

    The next sex offense arrest in your community is most likely going to be of someone who is a first-time offender and his victim (if there is one) was not protected by the registry.

    You know who else is on the registry? The families of registrants. Spouses, parents, children. Do those people deserve to have their address published? Do kids deserve to have notices sent to the neighbors when they move into a new neighborhood, notices that warn the neighbors away from their home?

    Information shown on the registry varies from state to state. Some states publish the employers of registered sex offenders. If you were an employer, would you hire an RSO if it meant that the name of your company would show up on the registry? Some states show the age of the victim but not the year of the crime. So a 60-yo convicted of raping a 14-yo looks pretty bad; if his crime was committed when he was 19, the picture changes–but the registry is not interested in telling accurate stories. Some states require all registrants to be on for LIFE.

    My husband is on the registry for 25 years in our state but it would be only ten in a neighboring state. A friend, if he moved to the same state, would magically become a “predator”. Not because his crime is more dangerous there but because the crazy-quilt of laws pieced together by the legislators in that state is different from the crazy-quilt pieced together in our state.

    Registered sex offenders have been murdered by people who found their addresses on the registry. Is that what you want? Who is protected by that?

    As for the questions about which crimes land someone on the registry, it varies from state to state. Not all states put the public urinators on the registry but some (13? 16? off the top of my head) do. Not all states put juveniles on the registry but many do. Not all states put streakers on the registry but at least one state does–and a young man killed himself when he was arrested for streaking in that state because the fear of being on the regisry for life was a terrifying prospect.

    The registry is not an innocuous bit of paperwork. It has a direct negative affect on registrants and their families–and all without protecting anyone.

    This is long and too late in the thread. I’m sorry it won’t be seen by people who raised questions up-thread.

  70. James Pollock July 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    “Why do I say that no one should be on the registry? Because the registry is sold as a way to protect your family from creeps and perverts but it does not do that. ”

    Well, abandoning it is one possible approach, but so is fixing it.

    Most children who are abused, are abused by people the parents trusted. So you could get a sizable improvement if parents knew, specifically, who not to trust.

    Unfortunately, sometimes you get cases where people know of the abuse, but find that their own interests align with the abuser, rather than the abused. Superiors in the Catholic Church were afraid that if it became known that some of the priests of the church were pedophiles, the other good works of the Church would be adversely affected, so when abuse surfaced, they quickly moved the pedophile priests. It was not unheard-of for a school that hired a new teacher, only to have a hint of scandal surface, to accept a resignation with a non-disclosure agreement, allowing the teacher to be employed elsewhere. That teacher is someone else’s problem, now…

    That’s the sort of condition mandatory reporting was developed for, but a registry that can be checked by individuals (not just law enforcement) can help, as well.

  71. Jason July 27, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    @Dave Smith – thanks for your analysis. It sounds, though, that Appendix A supports the blog post and the article (which appeared in the NY Post…), so there is at least some basis for the misleading fear-mongering.

    I agree with the vast majority of what you say, but I get the feeling that you may give the justice system a little too much benefit of the doubt. For example, I wouldn’t be too surprised to find that some states have two kinds of sexual contact – forcible and consensual, and a whole list of questionable conditions that preclude consent.

    Also, while the statistical unlikelihood of being prosecuted may comfort some, I’d rather see laws which are written unequivocally to protect the innocent. Forget about 14 year olds having sex, and think of all the sexting going on. Every once in a while, an incident of this very common behavior comes to light, and the “authorities” pretend they’ve discovered an international child porn ring. That should NEVER be allowed to happen. We can’t just say that since most sexters do so with impunity, it’s ok to prosecute a few.

    I don’t think you’re saying that, either, but it might be interpreted that way. A 14 year old probably isn’t concerned with the risk to himself or herself, but we should all be concerned that we create that risk for any 14 year old by writing bad laws.

  72. Mark Solomon July 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

    This perversity, like so many of the other changes reflected in Free Range Kids, further exemplifies the switch/exchange of societal/parental child-rearing value of raising independent/responsible kids with trying to raise safe/controlled kids that started in the 80’s and continues at run away pace. Sex play or early sexual activity – even without coercion – which for hundreds of years was seen as a common interaction in “normal” child development has been re-labeled as pathological/criminal.

    But what do I know – I’m just a clinical Psychologist

  73. Mary July 27, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    Unkind and thoughtless?
    A child traumatized by a sexual assault is no less traumatized by a 14 year old than a 21 year old. A fourteen year old should definitely know better. What excuse making- especially in light of the fact that sex Ed is being taught younger and younger. Wake up people. The new LARGEST number of sex offenders IS youthful. Sexuality needs to be respected by the time someone is 10 let alone 14!
    A Highschool friend of mine almost killed herself freshman year of college because her teen age brother had molested as a child. Sorry but I find all of this acceptance of sexual a use by a 24 year old completely outrageous- 14 is not 4!

  74. Beth July 28, 2016 at 8:29 am #

    @Mary, I’m not sure what your post even really means (when did a 24-year-old come into it?), but did you read the post? Quote:

    “Why so young? Because people tend to have sex with people around their own age, which means young people tend to have sex with other young people. And much under-age sex is illegal.”

    Many of these kids are not on the registry because they “traumatized” anyone. They had sex, or experimented sexually, with their peers who were experimenting right along with them. Yet somehow the boy is the sex offender and is marked for life, and you’re totally OK with that.

  75. Qute July 28, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Mary – my heart aches for your friend. What a terrible thing for her to have gone through. But I have to ask. Did he do anything before molesting her that would have put him on that list? Because if he didn’t then the sexual offender registry would not have done your friend any good.

    Here’s the other question: WHY did he molest her? Did you know there is a high correlation between molesters like this and they themselves being molested as children?

    If we, as a country, started putting forth half as much effort into mental health treatment as we do putting people on lists and locking up people for non-violent offenses I think everyone’s lives would be both safer and happier. That includes lots of support and access to therapy for survivors of crime and a reduction in crime rates by those with issues themselves.

  76. truthBTold July 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm #


    Do you want to talk to the mother of the dead boy who killed himself after being placed on the SOR-thanks to the wonderful piece of legislation titled the Adam Walsh Act.

    The boy was walking to the bathroom when he decided to expose himself. Didn’t touch anyone, was just being a dumb kid-and he should have been punished for the act.

    But this is what he got-FOUR MONTHS IN JAIL

    WAKE UP, MARY!!!

  77. Emily July 28, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    OK, so I am going to put some personal experience out there and hope someone of you read it and see where Mary is right, to some extent. I don’t know how young I was when it started, but I do remember my brother is 6 years older than i. The earliest I remember, I was 4,so he would have been 10, anyway, I was groomed so by the time I was 9 and he was 15, I knew it was wrong but I was terrified of him beatin me up ( he had nearly suffocated me on several occassionally). I was raped and molested and he knew what he did. Yes, many years later he apologized but that doesn’t fix over 6 years of degradation not to mention the feeling of I asked for it so I deserved it. Yes I agree that some laws are out of wack, but I also believe that there needs to be others in place. Those that allow the victims to come forward without fear. Anyway, at only 22, and with two children of my own, I feel it is my responsibility to protect them, and I would like to know where those predators are located. And I know some people are only one time offenders, but the cycle is cruel and it more often than not, happens multiple times, especially if they aren’t caught.

  78. truthBTold July 28, 2016 at 9:06 pm #


    I think what happened to you is deplorable! And I believe your brother should be in prison for what he did. Unfortunately, this piece of legislation has condemned children for something that is no way comparable to what your brother did. The stupid act of sexting can land a teenager on the SOR for life; rather than focus on people who committed crimes like your brother, we now must focus on a homeless man who urinated in an alley way!










    WAKE UP!

  79. Jessica July 28, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    The sex-offender registry is probably a mistake, and I know that many people are ok it who shouldn’t be.

    That being said, I, like several commenters below, actually went and looked up my zip code. 4 offenders. All of them have ages listed; none were minors at the time of arrest. And for heavens sake, nobody is on it for public urination (none of the four had “indecent exposure” or anything like that). No, it was all “sexual battery” and “contact with a child under 14” etc.

    Of corse I’ve heard the horror stories about 16-yos being listed for having consensual sex with their 14-yo girlfriends. But, like all scares in Internet land, it does seem to be extraordinarily rare.

  80. TruthBTold July 28, 2016 at 11:54 pm #








  81. Donna July 29, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    Dave Smith,

    Sex offender registry laws vary GREATLY by state so your personal state’s registry law may not be indicative for the entire country. For example, my state would have extremely few 14 year old registered sex offenders and those that exist would all be for very serious crimes. The reason for this is that my state excludes cases prosecuted in Juvenile court from the registry so in order to be on the sex offender registry, the 14 year old would have had to have been prosecuted in adult court. They are not going to do that for public nudity.

    Many states – and in fact the Adam Walsh Act commands – put children adjudicated in Juvenile proceedings on the registry. Adam Walsh was supposed to be the law of the land. States were told to enact it or lose funding of some sort. Some did, some did not. The deadline kept moving out. As of now, 17 states have implemented Adam Walsh. I have no idea if they are still pushing the other states to adopt it or not at this point. And other states already required the registry for juveniles and continue to do so despite not enacting Adam Walsh.

  82. Donna July 29, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    Last week I was in Juvenile court for a CPS case and it came out that the 11 (maybe 12 now) year old daughter was sending naked pictures of herself to a boy. That was all that was said initially. No age, relationship, mental status was given for the boy nor was one asked for. The judge insisted that the girl was a victim. Because the girl has some mental issues, but is not in special ed classes or even on an IEP to my knowledge, the boy must have been responsible for this and the mother should have called the police (mom just talked it over with his parents) and he should have been prosecuted. The boy involved was 12 and was in the same class as the girl last year.

    THIS is the attitude of courts towards these issues. Girls are poor helpless waifs subject constantly to being exploited by evil boys. She even said that girls don’t send pictures like this out without being pushed into it by boys. She would have thought nothing of convicting this 12 year old boy of kiddie porn and, if my state had adopted Adam Walsh, he would be on the sex offender registry.

    Now that my daughter is hitting puberty, I am for the first time in my life genuinely happy to have a girl (even as a child I only wanted boys for future children). I don’t want to have to navigate the minefield of puberty with a boy. The risk of getting pregnant is so much better than the risk of ending up on the sex offender registry for life.

  83. marie July 29, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    Emily, I am sorry that happened to you. Your brother, though, was not on the registry so your parents, if they were watching the registry, would not have known to protect you from him.

    Just as you, watching the registry to protect your kids today, will not find the most likely perpetrator: someone in your circle of trusted friends, family, teachers, coaches, pastors. People who are not on the registry.

    I truly am sorry for what happened to you.

    TruthBTold: stop using all caps. If you have a point to make (and you do), regular typing will work just fine. I tend to ignore commenters who use all caps because I assume they have a screw loose.

  84. Dave Smith July 29, 2016 at 11:08 am #


    This article is the most extreme interpretation of the data possible. While it is true that law vary from state to state, and my informal look at my two counties is not representative of the entire country, it does not change the fact that, based on the raw data in the report the most common age of sex offenders is 30, not 14.

    Furthermore, the data only draws from 12 states. So we don’t really know if this is representative of the entire country because the report does not explain how states were chosen. (Maybe they were chosen randomly. Maybe only these states had data. Maybe they were chosen to skew the results one way or another. We don’t know.) Furthermore the data is from 1991 and 1996. Many states HAVE indeed relaxed consent laws and passed Romeo and Juliet laws (Texas has) since that time. Furthermore, the report was written in 2000. (At the same time, many laws might have toughened in one way or another.)

    Add all this to the fact that when you disaggregate the data by victim age, the “14 is most common” becomes true only if the victim is 11 years old or younger and you come up with a different picture that what is painted in the article.

    This is the kind of information people get when doing the so called “google search” on a topic. I think anyone who reads this particular article becomes less informed on this topic, not more informed. It’s funny that someone accused me of getting my information from a google search.

    I would not have sex offender’s lists. Kids who are hurt are generally hurt in their own space by people they know (the justice dept article supports this) so the effectiveness of lists seems questionable. However, if I were a strong advocate of banning the lists (that is, if I were in charge of a group whose mission was to ban the lists) this article would not make me happy. I’d see it as damaging my cause. If a true, clear interpretation of your cause does not make your case, then maybe your case should not be made.

  85. TruthBTold July 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    dear marie

    thank you for your input. my sister’s son had to be hospitalized after he attempted suicide when the threat of SOR came into his life-romeo and juliet crime.

    after doing some research, i realized the absolute absurdity of this ridiculous legislation.

    if the state adopts the adam walsh act, the potential of suicide among children will likely be raised. see, marie, i have this understanding because i see what my sister and her son are going through, and i now see how cases are rushed through in the juvenile court system-especially cases involving kids who don’t have the money for adequate council!

    marie, i’m sorry if you think i have a screw loose.

  86. TruthBTold July 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    i meant “counsel.” sorry marie.

  87. marie July 30, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

    TruthB, you are right, that it is likely that the registry increases suicide risk. That is true with adult offenders as well….adults who have families who are devastated by suicide, too.

    I see no screws loose. I see someone desperate to make others understand the pointless damage you have seen in your family. I understand. I hope your nephew and his family have solid support while they deal with the trauma caused by the registry.

  88. Alx July 31, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    Mary (https://www.freerangekids.com/what-is-the-most-common-age-of-a-sex-offender-surprise/#comment-449791),

    You consider 14 years of age to be young adulthood? Whoa! One is not legally recognised as an adult until at least 18 years of age, never mind at the very beginning of the teenage years. Considering that the average USA human lives to about the mid-70s to mid-80s, twenty- and thirty-somethings are young adults. Not teenagers who are only starting to become cognizant of the world around them.

    If that is your train of though in most areas of your life….there are no words to describe how I feel.

  89. James Pollock August 1, 2016 at 1:21 am #

    “You consider 14 years of age to be young adulthood? Whoa! One is not legally recognised as an adult until at least 18 years of age”

    This is not the case. Although 18 is the GENERAL age of majority (at present… under English common-law it was 21), there are a number of different ways/cases for a person under 18 to be legally recognized as an adult.

    Persons under 18 may legally marry, for example. In some cases, this right is available to 14-year-olds. (For example, my state allows 18-year-olds to marry, 16-year-olds to marry with parental consent, and women with child to marry regardless of age.)

    Persons under 18 may be charged with criminal offenses. The details vary by state whether a particular offense by a particular juvenile will land in family court or criminal court. Donna can provide lots more information, if she cares to. 14-year-olds currently cannot be given a death sentence, but, otherwise, may well land in the same courts that handle adult offenders.

    Minors may become emancipated by court order (which provides some, but not all, of the rights of adulthood.) The age limit for court-ordered emancipation varies by state, with some states allowing 14-year-olds.

    Minors may, in some states, consent to or refuse medical treatment for themselves over even their parents’ objections.. Again, this right is extended to 14-year-olds by some states.

    Biologically, nearly all 14-year-olds are adults.

  90. Buffy August 1, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    I’m sure glad Dave Smith is here. We needed someone who is more intelligent than and has better research skills than the stupid US Bureau of Justice.

  91. JP Merzetti August 6, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    Any society that can actually legally justify doing this to kids is a psychopathic maladjustment of any obligation toward a just and fair public domain.
    Yet it has made the darkest of religions out of a sort of weird, horrific worship of child-welfare.
    This paradox is stunning in its hypocrisy.
    America has made more dollars out of sex (who cares which, why, where, when or how?) than any other society in the history of the planet.
    And in so promoting and lauding the cornucopia of monetary treats thus endowed – proceeds to punish its citizens most vulnerable and least capable of fighting back.
    That is a bully most extraordinary.

    Fourteen year-olds making the probable and typical mistakes that fourteen year-olds have probably made since Neanderthal cave drawings…..are handed life sentences (with appalling consequences.)
    Suits who rob the nation blind, sucking back trillions of wealth stolen bold-faced……walk free.

    And yet millions of kids still grow up trusting, caring, believing…..
    That is about as dark a miracle as I can imagine.