Have you checked out the National Sex Offender Registry? Thanks to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, convicted sex offenders throughout the United States, the District of Columbia and some Indian tribal communities are required to register their residence information with area authorities, as well as make their residence known in the jurisdiction in which they were convicted. This Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) online system is incredibly helpful for parents, schools and other groups to help keep kids safe from convicted offenders.
As you review the national registry or even the registry in your area (for example, I think the sex offender registry in my home state of Indiana is terrific!), you will see offenders are placed into one of three “tiers” on these registries. In general terms, here's a simple definition for each of those tiers:
Tier I: Lowest-level Conviction
A Tier I offender is someone who was convicted and served less than one-year in prison. Examples of Tier I sex offenses would be receipt or possession of child pornography, or sexual assault against an adult that involved sexual contact, but not a completed or attempted sexual act.
Tier II: Mid-level Conviction
Second tier offenses are generally more aggressive sexual contact crimes that carry longer than a one-year prison term. Tier I offenders who commit a second sexual offense are generally placed into the Tier II category. Any offense against a victim under the age of 18 automatically falls into this tier. Such offenses that would be categorized as Tier II include:
- Engaging or attempting to engage minors in prostitution (including conspiracies and solicitations);
- Having any kind of physical sexual contact with a minor that involves intimate parts of the body (either directly or through clothing) or attempts, solicitations or conspiracies to have physical sexual contact;
- Using a minor in a sexual performance; and
- The production or distribution of child pornography.
Tier III: Most Severe Conviction
Tier III categorizes those who are the most dangerous or repetitive sex offenders. Anyone convicted as a Tier II offender who reoffends is generally categorized in this third tier. These convictions are also punishable by one (1) or more years in prison. Offenses considered to be Tier III include:
- More severe or aggravated sexual abuse or assault (as compared to Tier II), or the conspiracy to commit such an offense;
- Engaging in a sexual act by force or threat;
- Engaging in a sexual act with another who is rendered unconscious, is involuntarily drugged or who is otherwise uncapable of making a sound decision about the act or is unable to decline participation;
- Engaging in a sexual act with a child under the age of 12;
- For children under the age of 16, there are a variety of sexual acts defined in statute (see 18 U.S.C. 2246(2));
- Offenses noted in the Tier II section against whom the victim is 13 years of age or younger; and
- Kidnapping of a minor (there are exceptions related to parents and guardians).
Each jurisdiction (be it state or municipality) has some flexibility in how offenders are listed on their registries. Typically, older juvenile offenders who commit more serious sexual crimes have stricter SORNA reporting requirements than do younger juveniles with less serious convictions. For more specific information about juvenile reporting requirements, see Section 111(8) of the statue.
Please keep in mind… sex offender registries ONLY identify known and convicted sex offenders. There are thousands upon thousands of additional sexual predators that have not been identified by authorities or that have been identified, but not convicted for sexual offenses. These online registries are simply tools to help each of us identify where previously convicted offenders are living.
So, stay vigilant and talk to your children about keeping their bodies safe, discussing with them what to do in the event something should ever happen to them.
For more information check out these resources:
- Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us
- By : Sex Offenders: Identification, Risk Assessment, Treatment, and Legal Issues First (1st) Edition
- Consensual Consequences: A True Story of Life with a Registered Sex Offender
- Sex Offenders and the Internet
- Family Incest Treatment
For tips on how to have those conversations with kids, I invite you to read any or all of the following:
Working to improve the world one child at a time, Ginger has made it her life mission to raise awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids™” at gingerkadlec.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/gingergkadlec.
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