The nightmare isn’t over for two Oregon middle-school students in Oregon who, after spending five days in a juvenile detention center, are still facing additional jail time for their actions. Their crime? Smacking the girls on their rear ends.
The boys, both thirteen, are charged with ten misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse and harassment, subjecting them to possibly having to register as sexual offenders if convicted. They also face up to one year in jail for each count. One of kids told the media in a telephone interview that hitting the girls on their butts was a common way that they said hello to the other kids at school, like a secret handshake. The parents of the boys concede that their son’s behavior was inappropriate, however, not criminal.
The attorneys for the boys have rejected a plea bargain that would have avoided the sex offender registration. Therefore, both boys face jail time and having to register for life as sex offenders.
Without question, I believe that the boy’s conduct was inappropriate. However, what the prosecutors are doing to these boys is equally as inappropriate. Even the threat of being forced to register as sex offenders is devastating for the kids. More then ever, to be a registered sex offender is to be designated as the most despised in our community. The boys would be irreparably harmed.
I’m seeing an increased trend towards criminalizing adolescent behavior. Statistics show that juvenile arrests for this type of activity are going up drastically. Enough is enough. The folks making these decisions need to take a step back and seriously consider the ramifications of their actions on the child defendants.