Preying on the Young: Sex Offender Victimization and the Impact of Legislative Efforts

Lloyd Klein, Louisiana State University Shreveport

Sex offenders attract noticeable media focus and criminal justice response. The plight of Megan Kanka and other young children is a prime concern as noted by law enforcement authorities and community residents. Organized community efforts, fueled by media attention and close law enforcement scrutiny, have prompted promulgation of child protective legislation. Passage of Megan's Law in New Jersey and similar sex offender legislation in locales around the country stimulated related federal legislative efforts. These efforts have culminated in a target hardening approach toward child molesters and a focus on protecting their potential victims. This paper addresses victimization issues related to the formation of legislative remedies. A profile of several important cases will be offered along with discussion of the followng issues: 1) sex offenders and the plight of child victims prior to the 1980s; 2) passage of Megan's Law and parallel Federal initiatives; 3) impact of legal measures directed toward sex offenders as assessed according to community concern and criminal justice response; and 4) overall evaluation of policy initiatives dedicated to dealing with sexual offender and their victims.

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Updated 05/20/2006