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The Relationship Between Juvenile Sex Offender Registration and Depression in Adulthood [research paper]

[Walden University Dissertations and Doctoral Studies]


Accounts of sexual abuse appear daily in the media. Rightfully, this issue demands attention. Juveniles may be victims; they may also be offenders who are subject to sex offender registration and notification (SORN) policies. Growing research finds that SORN policies fail to achieve intended public policy outcomes. Little is known, however, about the unintended consequences of SORN for juvenile offenders. This study contributed to a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of these policies on this population. Merton’s concept of manifest and latent functions of purposive social action and an alternate non-criminogenic form of Lemert’s secondary deviance proposition provided the theoretical framework. Research questions focused on whether a relationship exists between sex offender registration for a juvenile offense and severity of depression in current and former registrants after maturation into adulthood, and whether the relationship persists.


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  1. AlexO

    As an adult, I can tell you this isn’t any easier on us.

    • Tired of this

      ^This. I’ve struggled with depression since my early teens, but I’ve never seriously considered suicide as often as I have since becoming a registered citizen in my 20s. I’m going on 11 years now as a member of this exclusive club. I honestly don’t think I can handle too many more years of it, especially if things get any worse.

      • Sam

        I know what you mean. I have several attempts under my belt. Attempts only due to faulty materials and high physical tolerance.

        My contingency plan for if the IML proceeding goes south is the to utilize the suicide kit I had planned planned many years ago. I’m honestly on my last string with this system. I moved out of the country, found a place that treats and accepts me as a human, and due to a lack of wording in New Yorks registry laws am stuck on their registry.

        If they take this last grasp at a normal life from me I have nothing left. I’ve lost everything so many times to this registry and it makes me believe that I would have been better off just killing myself when I first got arrested. Would have made things a lot easier on my family and friends.

  2. Tim Moore

    The registry makes adults depressed, too. By fighting the registry I am keeping it from making me depressed.

    • New Person

      Isn’t that an odd thought that depression only exists in non-adults? I thought non-adults and adults were people. Same make up and all. Why wouldn’t it make adults depressed or more depressed?

  3. E

    It’s hard not to be depressed when you know you’re one step from a “gotcha” arrest for unintentionally violating a crazy registration “civil” (hahahaha!) law. I think of my wife and little kids who are in danger if I’m not providing income (let alone the cost of attorneys!). And then I see the sparkle in my kids eyes as we decorate for Christmas and I know I can keep going for now.

    Even five years ago I’d never have dreamed that the further I get away from my conviction and the further I move up in my career, the more danger I’d feel just doing life. Lord help us.

    • NPS

      That’s exactly what happened to me. I climbed higher up my career ladder only to be reported by the U.S. government that I’m a registrant and thus fired from my job.

      I’ve since found another job in my field. After a couple months, I was asked if I wanted to be promoted to a higher position. I declined because I knew that the U.S. govt. would report me (it was the same position I held at my previous employment). The excuse I gave (and it is the truth) is that I’m transitioning out of this field and onto a new career path.

      • CR

        The US government reported you to your employer? If you don’t want to say, that’s fine, but I’m curious what industry this was in?

        I lost my job of 20 years in the banking industry when my employer found out I was on the registry. I’d been registering for 15 years by then. They wouldn’t tell me how they found out. I assumed some co-worker informed them.

        • NPS

          I’d rather not say which industry.

          The Dept. of Homeland Security only stated that there was derogatory mark against me. I had never felt comfortable disclosing my past because I knew she would react this way and also inform others. She would always disclose other employees’ personal lives to me, so I figured, if she’s telling me about their lives (and violating their trust/confidentiality), what makes me think she won’t do the same with me. The boss ended up doing her own research on me after DHS informed. Once she found out, she informed other employees (including one who worked under my authority) then fired me.

          My employer before that last one was aware and was fully supportive including writing a statement on my behalf to get the 1203.4. I’m still on good terms with this employer, and I know that I can rely on him for a reference. I sometime regretted leaving that place, but I was only trying to move up in my career and earn more money. I knew by the way this woman treated her employees (she is a tyrant), that I made a mistake in taking the position after only two weeks of coming aboard.

          At my current position, I’m only planning to stay one year while I work on my paralegal certificate. Then I’ll move forward.

      • Tim Moore

        Are you saying there are other laws or regs that trigger a outing by the feds? Besides Angel Watch? Would be good to have a list of those. To show more concerted discrimination rather than situational or random is a strong argument against the registry.

        • NPS

          Apparently there are and yet they don’t mention anything about doing a background check. I will say my employment has to do with working with an immigrant population. My boss wanted me to be designated an official where I would work with immigration paperwork. All that I would be required to do is to state (via DHS website) that the person was “in status”, print out the form, and sign the paperwork. That was all.

          Before I accepted, I went on the Dept. Homeland Security’s website and looked for the requirements. I met them all. NOTHING was stated about a background check or that a record would deny approval. All I had to do was the training and examination. I was approved, then 5 months later, they contacted my boss. I guess Dept. of Homeland Security doesn’t want RCs logging on to their websites.

        • Tim Moore

          I guess some get off pulling the rug out from under registants, when they can get away with it. What a screwed up system. There are probably real abusers employed in the detention facilities who are there because of a “clean” background check.
          And if you get off the registry in California some day, would your record still come up to DHS?

  4. AlexO

    Yup. I’m always worried about getting some sort of positive and public recognition, for either work or in my private life, that may result in someone Googling my name.

    • Tim Moore

      Quite, I am reluctant to build something knowing it will most likely be knocked down. Life of a registrant.

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