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IL: Class worked to break the cycle of sex offenses


The criminal justice majors in Shelly Clevenger’s course studying sex offenses are usually prepared for a final project that is out-of-the-ordinary.

“I’ve had a lot of these same students in my other classes, so they know their projects will be a little quirky,” said Clevenger, whose innovative teaching has been honored by the American Society of Criminology. “I wanted something that will help them communicate with their audience.” For the future members of law enforcement, that means connecting not only with those who are vulnerable to sexual offenses, but also those who have committed them.

Clevenger split the class into three groups, and charged them with creating resources for their audiences. One group designed a comic book to help homeless children avoid online predators. Another created a brochure to help parents of children with developmental disabilities work with their children on online safety. The third compiled a pamphlet of employment resources for past sexual offenders.

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  1. Tim Moore

    Online predation is not that common. They should really work on the dynamics in families and institutions and try to understand why abuse is common between aquaintances.

  2. totally against public registry

    Love the fact that this professor is teaching the other side of law enforcement. To teach about bringing down the rate of recidivism by providing information/education and prevent someone before they commit a crime, is at least a first step. Kudos to Shelly Clevenger! There should be more of them.
    Maybe Janice can work on getting her more facts relating to sex offenders and eventually adding a class just to teach young students what life for a sex offender is like and what would help them heal and be free citizens in this country.

    • AlexO

      Above all else, I think students should be taught what can actually get someone on the offender list, even them. I guarantee that almost no parent, and especially a student, knows that them sending a nude selfie to their partner or engaging in any sort of consensual sexual activity could very much land them on the registry. Not only would this help protect the students, but also help them to understand that the registry doesn’t solely consistent of media version of a sex offender who runs a CP ring and spends time stalking people. I’m sure upon hearing this and seeing actual evidence of these types of prosecutions would have most students think, “Holy crap! I and just about all my friends are sex offenders in waiting!”

      • But Jim, that's not logical!


        Now, that would be logical wouldn’t it? Teaching them at the beginning of every school year from Grades 7-12 (or even putting it in the school handbook too) about what could get them embarrassed, arrested, and/or prosecuted would be prudent. Just like you warn the students about teachers who could prey on them and Romeo & Juliet romances. That makes too much sense though.

        You’d want them to come forward so you don’t say anything so the youngin’ is ignorant of the law as SCOTUS says they shouldn’t be, but, yet, you run them through the ringer because they should’ve known better though you did not tell them in the first place. Catch-22!!

        When parents are held responsible for their children’s behavior as they should be since they are under 18, only then will parents teach their children what they should and should not do with teachers, cellphone photos, etc. Maybe they need to teach the parents at parent orientation night or whatever works best to get the message across about the seriousness of these matters. When the child is found responsible, hold the parent responsible too. A double registry for children and their parents who run afoul of the law? That may work. Of course, that’d stop all reporting of anything now wouldn’t it?

        It also would take away from the DAs work load as well as the court’s dockets. Can’t have that, especially in Iowa, NC, CO, etc.

        • AlexO

          Well now that you mention it… Last year an article was posted here over a town in Oregon fighting the local ordnance which would make it mandatory for all adults, teachers and parents, to report ANY sexual activity they may learn about anyone under 18. If they fail to do so, they themselves could be prosecuted. And no one was exempt! So a teen going to her school counselor to confide that they’re having sex with their partner but now are breaking up (or whatever the usual teen drama is) would technically be obligated to report said meeting under the law. Likewise if the parents learn their teen in now sexually active.

          Another series of articles (no idea where the actual bill currently stands) reported on a bi-partisan bill at the capital which would not only make teen sexting a 15-year minimum, but should they learn the parent/guardian was aware their teen was sexting, they’d be equally prosecuted! Of course it’s not like they would make a PSA regarding such a major bill. No, no. One must always be aware of the thousands of laws that are passed each year; “Ignorance is not an excuse”… that is unless your’e the law, then you sure as hell can claim ignorance and in fact be excused exactly on those grounds without any repercussions!

  3. TS

    Admirable effort, but have to wonder if they decided to actually apply as if they were an RC or talk with the mgmt at the suggested places to apply for employment before putting the paperwork together so they got a realistic view of the employment difficulties faced by RCs. If they did not, then they should to get a great understanding of the difficulties.

    Walmart does background checks on people so RC most likely cannot work there, but hopefully some have been able to as the exception. I have heard Mod Pizza (a growing pizza chain nationally) does not hold back from hiring those with records (RCs are unknown).

  4. Ron

    I hope I don’t sound like an ass, but is that really what people do in college now-a-days? I am specifically referring to sex offender employment opportunities. Any sex offender can go to the employment office and find out there a few possibilities for a job. It seems like the students would have a false sense of satisfaction, but the sex offender is no better off.

    Sex offenders are not allowed jobs. Even unrelated to their offense. I have read about firefighters , home depot employees, and salvation army bell ringers being fired for being a sex offenders. If even the salvation army fires sex offenders, who volunteer as bell ringers, what type of serious job prospects actually exist?

  5. Dustin

    My problem with this approach is that it presumes there is a cycle to begin with, while in the overwhelming majority of cases there is none. As empirical evidence shows, the so-called cycle is broken once the offender gets caught. Even, perhaps especially, those cases where the offender has committed previously unreported offenses.

    Generally speaking, no measure taken to prevent a recurrence of a rare or non-existent incident ever accomplishes its intent.

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