Then there was the case where the mother of a three-year-old was given a ticket when her son, playing outside, couldn't get into his house in time and urinated in his yard in view of horrified--my emphasis and my sarcasm--neighbors and, unfortunately, the policeman who gave the ticket.
However, a six-year-old in Wisconsin was not as lucky. When he and playmates engaged in a "playing doctor" episode and the mother of one of the children pressed charges, she found a district attorney not only willing to prosecute the case but eager to do so. This case is fraught with accusations and a host of issues, but the bottom line is this: this child, charged with and adjudicated for first degree felony sexual assault, will be required to be on the public sex offender registry when he turns 18 for something he did at age 6. In the words of the article, "...District Attorney Lisa Riniker has guaranteed that one local 6-year-old boy will have a series of awkward therapy sessions as an adolescent, and again as a middle-aged man—if he lives that long. In a less-rosy outcome, Riniker’s targeted kid just might succumb to the stress of life as a publicly listed sex offender, and retreat from society, or even kill himself."
This is appalling; this is unacceptable; this is criminal in itself.
And now, today this is printed. A nine-year-old boy in Ohio has been charged with gross sexual imposition for pulling down another child's pants and touching him inappropriately. This is a breaking story, and nothing has yet been finalized as to how it will be handled. Even though the news report stresses how prosecutors use discretion in handling juvenile cases, it is filled with words such as, "sex crime," "criminal," and "criminal charge," and it is titled, "9-year-old boy charged with sex crime."
Nine is older than six. Nevertheless, this, from all appearances, is a case of childish play and curiosity. If it must go beyond the purview of the parents of the children and the possibility of some counseling, why is
doing it right, and I hope that is so. However, my confidence level is not high.
The trend is to criminalize, more and more, behavior that is not criminal, behavior that is merely stupid, and, most disturbingly, behavior that is part of normal childish curiosity and play, behavior that is part of normal child development.
And most disturbing of all is the fact that the sex offender registry, something sold to the public on the grounds that it would protect children, is now a weapon used against children and putting them in unfathomable danger.