Should Teenagers Who Have Consensual Sex Be On The Sex Offenders List?
By John Vizzone
In the year 2000 the New South Wales government passed legislation enacting the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000.
The Act essentially to much fanfare created a Child Sex Offenders Registry where the perpetrators of sexual offences against children, considered perhaps the most appalling of all offences, would be placed on a government register which could be accessed by various authorities to monitor such offenders.
To most, this would seem uncontroversial. Why shouldn’t a person whom has committed multiple sexual assault be children be monitored on such a register? What’s the problem with a “kiddy” porn dealer being keep tracked of?
Unfortunately, like most laws, there have been some unintended consequences or the Act.
Once such issue is how the register deals with child sex offender is a child themselves. And when we say “child sex offender” we aren’t necessarily talking about a child who has raped or abused another child.
As is common in the western world children and teenagers under sixteen (16) cannot provide consent to sex. This means that a child say fifteen cannot have sex at all, whether that is with a fellow fifteen year old or any adult. This is commonly referred to as “statutory rape”.
The problem with the child sex offender registry is that when a fifteen year old sleeps with their fellow fifteen year old, they are both guilty of “rape” and as such are required to be put onto the registry, among paedophiles and other sexual offenders.
This can have a profound impact on a young person who clearly do not belong with such people. Their registration, at a time, when they are starting their working careers or study, or travelling can have severe consequences. Surely they weren’t the intended targets off the Act and the register.
What are your thoughts?
John Vizzone is a Partner of Vizzone Ruggero Twigg Lawyers and experienced advocate. He has appeared in many sexual offenders cases in the Children’s Court, Local Court, District Court, Supreme Court and before Parole Hearings. If you have any queries about this article or a matter, please contact 02 9667 1271.