Harming children in the name of 'child protection'

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Much more common are cases of teenagers arrested for sexual relationships with younger teenagers, and their sex acts are again labeled as "violent," "assault," "rape," "molestation," or "abuse," not because any violence, force, unwillingness, or harm was involved, but based only on the age difference. A series of reports on this phenomenon in the Texas Examiner resulted in a deluge of letters from parents whose teenage children were prosecuted and imprisoned for consensual sex (Texas Examiner, 2005). The ABC-TV news magazine 20/20 aired a series on the increase in prosecution of such cases (ABC News, 2008, Stossel et al., 2008a; Stossel et al., 2008b). In Winconsin, a 17-year-old was charged with felony sexual assault for having consensual sex with two underage girls, and faced up to fifty years in prison and fines of up to $200,000 (Sheboygan Press, 2007). [...]

Fairly common are cases where teenage boys are arrested for consensual sex with girls who lie about their age. For example, in Iowa, a 16-year-old boy met a 13-year-old girl who said she was 16 (Win, 2008). They began seeing each other and eventually had sex. The boy was convicted of lascivious acts with a child, a class D felony. He was expelled from high school and harassed by neighbors and strangers. He is now on the state public sex offender registry for life, prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a school, day care center or park and from going to the movies or the mall with friends. [...]

Human Rights Watch's (2007) report on the proliferation of irrational laws and destructive prosecution of juveniles recounts the story of a 12-year-old boy who invited friends aged 8 to 12 to watch pornographic videos he had found in his parent's bedroom. This led to mutual sex play. When caught, the boy was sent to juvenile jail for seven years and had to register as a sex offender when he reached age 19. [...]

One boy who was convicted of sodomy for having uncoerced oral sex with a 15-year-old when he was 17 was forced to move repeatedly because of residency restrictions for sex offenders. He ended up living in a camper in the woods without running water or electricity (Downey, 2007). [...] Being placed on a sex offender registry leads some teens to suicide. Michigan teenager Justin Fawcett, well-regarded for his kindness to others, was convicted of "sexual abuse" for consensual sex with a younger girl. When he found out he would be placed on a public sex offender registry, he committed suicide (Dickerson, 2005). In another case, an eight grader in Delaware was harassed and threatened by other students at his school because he was on the public sex offender registry for an act he committed at age 11. Shortly thereafter, he made several suicide attempts (Jones, 2007). [...]

Furthermore, treatment uses methods that are never even used on aggressive or violent nonsexual juvenile offenders, and in fact would be deemed abusive and unethical in such cases. For example, peer group sessions and workbook assignments require participants to repeatedly provide detailed descriptions or draw pictures of their sexual behavior, feelings, and fantasies (and sometimes masturbatory habits), to admit how destructive they are (regardless of whether their crimes were actually coercive), to describe the devious methods they used to manipulate their victims (even if they did not), to accept blame for all harm that occurred to all people involved, and to admit that they engage in criminal thinking pattern and identify those patterns in their lives, all in an atmosphere of shaming and castigation. Failure to disclose sufficient aggression or deviance, or to admit sufficient guilt, leads to accusations of denial or minimization (Anonymous, 1997; Kahn, 2001; Kahn, 1999; Shaw, 1999; MacFarlene & Cunningham, 2003; Chaffin & Bonner, 1998).

source: Article 'Harming Children in the Name of "Child Protection": How Minors Who Have Sex with Other Minors are Abused by the Law and Therapy' by Andrew Heller; From the book 'Censoring Sex Research - The Debate over Male Intergenerational Relations' edited by Thomas K. Hubbard & Beert Verstraete; Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA; 2013