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Kat’s Blog: The Media Loves To Hate “Sex Offenders”

The manner in which news about sexual offenses is reported by the media affects public opinion and perception of “sex offenders”. Registrants seldom receive good press and it seems too often that “as the media goes, so goes the law.”

While re-offense rates for registrants are on the decline compared to other types of offenses, news media ignores and fails to report these facts.  Positive facts about registrants just don’t make for eye-catching headlines, they don’t create the hype and moral panic that media relies on to sustain its self. As long as there’s news about “sex offenders” that keeps the public on high alert, fearful that predators of children lurk behind every tree and doorway, then media is doing its job, providing entertainment.

Unfortunately for registrants, the real facts about the registry and the side effects for those labeled by it, just aren’t all that entertaining to the public.

When it comes to sexual offenses, the media constructs stories that elicit public sympathy for those they deem victims and inflame the public against those perceived as offenders.  The more sensational the story, the further outside of social norms, the more graphic the details, the more newsworthy the story is.  Lurid stories create moral panic and the public reacts by reaching for pitchforks and torches. Legislators are bombarded with constituent calls for tougher sex offender laws which leads to extreme political reactionism and bills passed based on nothing more than myths, stigmas and stereo-types.

 All this before the accused even has their day in court.

All too often news articles interchangeably use terms like “sex offender”, child molester, predator, registrant and pedophile.  Upon hearing those terms, subliminally, readers use their own imagination, their own frames of reference in calling to mind images of monsters, bogeymen and stranger-dangers. Media keeps communities fearful regardless of whether or not there’s anything to fear.

The media’s role in stigmatizing those accused of sex offenses has led the public to demand ever increasing laws, registries, community notification systems, school and playground boundaries and travel and housing restrictions. It has influenced where registrants can find employment and who they can live or socialize with. The media’s representation of who and what a “sex offender” is  influences  public opinion and that public includes law enforcement, judges, P.O.’s, “sex offender” treatment professionals and state & government representatives. Everyone holding power over registrants is subject to influence by the media. And if the media only portrays registrants in a negative light, that’s the only way the public views registrants.

The media feeds the notion that registrants are untreatable.  How often have they written about successful rehabilitation?  They’ve written about the Second Chance Act, and giving felons a “hand-up” in reintegrating into society, but registrants are more often than not, left out of that equation, labeled as unredeemable, not rehabilitatable.  This has never been more evident than in recent weeks when chemical castration laws and laws prohibiting registrant’s from residing with their own children have been at the forefront of the news. Where were the stories of registrants that have been successful?

It seems that when it comes to “sex offenders” and the media, a lot of it is, dare I say it, Fake News.


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Well said! If anyone has email addresses of their local politicians on-hand, I recommend to copy and paste the text into an email addressed to them and providing the link as well.

Online media thrives on clicks. Chanell3000, a local newsorg, basic turned MissCl— into clickbait. Her name was mentioned more times than her murdered dead parents in a headline and story body. I’m sure there is more to come on her. Her NOW INFAMOUS THE TO MEDIA, perp in in state lock-up, likely in Waupon WI. It’s the same kinda of cases that spark lawmakers into action. The two parties are desperate to present themselves as effectively addressing the issue, when in FACT they are helpless. Databases can not predict a future unless it is utilized to deny opportunity via affirmative… Read more »

It all about rate!! And fear makes for the best rate Remember (Y2K) How people fear computers would shut down the world.Well it the same for sex offenders. The fear that my child could be molested at any second of the day/night. And yes it could happen. BUT the same coin can not land on both sides. Meaning is that your child won’t be taken by a stranger and molested. 99% of all cases it’s family or friends. But that 1% is what make the fear. But things are changing a little to make parents out to be the bad… Read more »

What you say is true, However; as you say the media will go with public opinion. Look at all the groups that were at one time stigmatized, gays, blacks, trans genders, undocumented immigrants, now all of those groups are regaled in the media. At one time they could be jailed for various reasons, now if you dare say anything against them you will be vilified in the media. Look at Buttigieg, his strongest asset as a candidate is that he is gay 😉 So this can turn. The media cares not for the damage or good it does, it only… Read more »

There are forces in play that go unrecognized by the general public. Big money from firms alter public option far more than facts of truth. The current administration and the last have been ramping up control over immigration. Has anyone considered the suits won against MONSANTO and their patented glycolic based herbicide.AND The feds attitude toward running many field workers off? To be sure many many illegals worked in fields treated with round-up and some will surely find themselves unable to sue. It can be, and often is, the story not being told that counts in propaganda fights. DNA exoneration… Read more »

I agree Eric

” Look at Buttigieg, his strongest asset as a candidate is that he is gay.” Ha! Buttigieg’s strongest asset is that he is whip-smart, unlike virtually all of the many presidential hopefuls over the years. I don’t agree with most of his politics but he has a very formidable intellect. To the extent his being gay influences the election, it will certainly work against him at the national level, overall. Not yet an “advantage,” I’d say. At most, it has given him a bit more press and a caché or trendiness born of novelty which most would find difficult to… Read more »

One step for man kind ! Woohoo !

Hate to be the devil’s advocate, but here goes… Simply put, the media is not interested in facts. They will misinterpret some details and overlook others for no other reason than to create a more compelling (read: shocking) story, often resulting in a distortion of the truth. The best examples I can think of are Casey Anthony and George Martin. I don’t know what actually happened in either case, but the fact that both were acquitted indicates that the facts found in court were substantially different than those that were trumpeted in media coverage. When the media runs a registrant… Read more »

I agree. But I think that comments on Internet articles are the way to go. An author should definitely be reading those. It is also great to be able to challenge lies right where everyone can see it and learn. But good to also send the comments to the editors and any other media staff.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x