The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Meet Ryan, who, as a young man, had a caring and consensual relationship with his high school sweetheart. After months of dating, just before her 15th birthday and shortly after his 18th, their relationship became sexual. These young people were in love, hoping to build a life together, but because of their slight age difference, Ryan will spend the rest of his life on Arizona’s sexual offense registry and will carry the label of “child sexual predator” forever.
Ryan is hardly the monster we imagine when we think of a someone on a sexual offense registry, but his case represents a common scenario wherein normal teen sexual behavior is criminalized. Studies show that your child is more likely to be placed on the sexual offense registry than to be harmed by someone on it. The highest rate of sexual assault offenders are 14-year-olds. One third of all sex crimes against a minor are committed by another minor, and 23% of those prosecuted for contact sexual offense are juveniles themselves.