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Sex, lies, and information - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2004-12-20 16:31
Sex, lies, and information
Public
California's registered sex offender website is now online. I'm shocked at the level of detail they have - a picture, description, and list of offenses for every offender, all of which must be updated annually. I'm also shocked at how many sex offenders live in my area, or immediately west of it. The registration itself has been around for years (recorded since 1947, fully public since 1996), but the information has never been this public before. I have mixed feelings about this. The survivor in me hails its potential to prevent abuse, but the civil libertarian finds such an accessible disclosure of incriminating information disturbing.

On a similar subject, The Philly Enquirer reports that grade schoolers in Philadelphia are being screened for abuse or exposure to sex after a rash of sexual acts, some forced and/or violent. (A quote: "What years ago used to be natural curiosity that manifested itself in 'playing doctor' or 'show and tell' has taken on a more aggressive and sexual tone in some children, who are exhibiting acts that should be far beyond their knowledge.") The story made me feel physically ill, though I was much more upset about the repeated rape of a girl by various classmates a couple of years ago at Willard Middle School (then again when she transferred to another school!), where I was a tutor during my freshman year. I haven't watched much television in the last six years, but what I have seen - in addition to the loads of explicit and violent stuff on the internet - makes me think that most of these kids are learning this from the media rather than from influences at home.

On a more positive note, Amnesty International has launched a campaign to change the common perception that sees rape as an "inevitable" part of war to one that views rape as a "deliberate war strategy" and one that is punishable in war crimes tribunals. It's about fucking time. Here's a summary article. One place they examine is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which I researched last year as part of my "True Costs of Technology" project. Last fall I also read the book Bananas, Beaches, and Bases, which has a chapter dedicated to this subject.
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fanlain
fanlain
2004-12-21 02:07 (UTC)
(no subject)
I think I feel the same as you - should this information really be that accessible? It feels like they're getting punished for the rest of their lives too.
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2004-12-21 03:09 (UTC)
(no subject)
That's true - I'd hate to end up on a list like that. Many of the offenses are something like "lewd and lascivious acts with a person under 14," which makes me think they hired a prostitute who was underage, maybe even unknowingly. (Actually, some of the criminals who committed only crimes below can apply to be exempt from listing, and about one quarter have. But there are still many who have one of the offenses below listed and have not.)

(1) sexual battery by restraint (Penal Code § 243.4, subd. (a)); (2) misdemeanor child molestation (Penal Code § 674.6, or former section 647a); or (3) lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 (Penal Code section 288) or continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code § 288.5), but only if the person convicted of section 288 or 288.5 successfully completed probation that was granted pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.066, subdivision (c).


But ... at the same time, sex offenders have been known to strike repeatedly, sometimes escalating the offenses (as was the case for the attacker of the law's namesake). In abstract, I think such information is for the public good, and I'd be more interested if I were a parent.

It's quite a dilemma!
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nikita
hukuma
2004-12-21 04:42 (UTC)
(no subject)
I'm not very keen on the sex offender lists; mainly because I'm really sure how it would prevent abuse. I guess if your nextdoor neighbor was a known offender, you might not let your kids play in his yard or something...

I'm also cautious to blame increased violence and sexual activity on the media; it probably plays a part, but I think that kids learn a lot more from their peers than from TV. I could be wrong, though.
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2004-12-21 08:21 (UTC)
(no subject)
I think that kids learn a lot more from their peers than from TV.

You may be right ... perhaps the few kids who learn it from elsewhere and then tell their friends learn more from media than from, say, watching their parents. I'll update with the results of the investigation if I see them in the news.
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(Anonymous)
2005-02-25 20:01 (UTC)
647a
647a is annoy/molest a child under 18, that is, over 16 but under 18. It is often a purely subjective crime and it can consist of what the child's perception of being annoyed might be. This could be anything from foul language to loitering near the child when the child perceives danger. Actual intent of the loitering may not matter. No touching is required to violate this offense.
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