Juveniles make up a third of those charged with child sexual abuse in Delaware and nationwide. If convicted, their names, addresses, pictures, birthdays and sometimes schools can be included on the state’s sex-offender registry. Their faces stand out in stark contrast to the registry’s sometimes-scruffy mug shots of adults, notes the Wilmington News Journal. The easy online availability of juveniles’ personal information worries their families and counselors, especially after the recent vigilante slayings of adult sex offenders.
That possibility haunts the father of a youth, now 18, who was registered at 13 and will be until he reaches 28. “Anybody could download that information, print it out and staple it on every telephone pole,” he says. “It could be a pedophile showing up on my doorstep.” Six states have different registration requirements for juveniles. In North Carolina judges decide whether convicted youths must register, based on the threat they pose to the community. Delaware has “no choice but to register people, even at a young age,” says a state lawmaker. Some 95 percent of juveniles treated do not reoffend, statistics show, and experience suggests that online registries can complicate rehabilitation.