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Juvenile Sex Offenders: Experts Debate Punishment Options


Aired 4/19/09

Maureen Cavanaugh (Guest Host): How do you know when a teenager is being a teenager and when he's crossed the line and turned into a sex offender? There was a time when sexually curious and hormone-driven teens might play doctor. But what if those teenagers got booked for sexual assault?


There's the case of the Georgia teen who is serving ten years in prison for having consensual sex with another teenager two years younger. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Today, we look at juvenile sex offenders. We look at who they are and how they are treated in the criminal justice system. We also find out about treatment options. There is a growing concern that juvenile sex offenders are treatable and should not carry the label for the rest of their lives, unlike their adult counterparts.



  • Amber Harrison, senior probation officer for San Diego's Juvenile Sex Offender Management Unit.
  • Dr. Cindy Burke , criminal justice research director for SANDAG. She is the co-author of research on sexual abusive youth in San Diego.
  • Franklin Zimring, author of An American Travesty: Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending. He also is a criminal law professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

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