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August 26, 2011

Kids on the Sex-Offender Registry: A Marie Claire Survey

As American teenagers increasingly get labeled as sex-offenders — for offenses such as sleeping with an underage high-school sweetheart — Marie Claire conducted an exclusive survey, state by state, to determine how many juveniles are on the sex-offender registry. Learn more about this issue in our story, "The Accidental Sex Offender."

frank rodriguez

At age 19, Frank Rodriguez had sex with his 15-year-old high school sweetheart. He's still paying the price.

Photo Credit: Sarah Wilson

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Every state has a sex-offender registry, and there are now more than 650,000 registered sex offenders nationwide. Not all states register juveniles. Of the 34 that do, only 23 keep track of the number of juveniles on the registry. In those 23 states, there are an estimated 23,000 registered juveniles. No states monitor whether the number of juveniles is on the rise or not, but one state, Oregon, provided an estimate, reporting a 70 percent jump in that state since 2005.

To be sure, some of the juveniles on the registry are guilty of violent sexual crimes. The grassroots movement in writer Abigail Pesta's story is trying to help a different group of people: the high-school lovers who get labeled as sex offenders for behavior that may technically be a crime, but which, activists argue, should fall into a different category.

As of May 2011, here are the 23 states that register juveniles, along with the number of registered juveniles in each state:

Alabama (1,594)
Florida (127)
Idaho (116)
Illinois (1,962)
Iowa (295)
Louisiana (91)**
Michigan (4,392)
Minnesota (2,417)
Missouri (156)
Montana (103)
New Mexico (0)
New York (40)
North Carolina (14)
North Dakota (106)
Ohio (1,251)
Oregon (2,690)
Rhode Island (152)
South Carolina (923)
South Dakota (69)
Texas (3,853)
Washington (424)***
Wisconsin (1,515)

*Colorado does not release number of registered juveniles to the public.
**This number does not include people who registered as juveniles and are now over the age of 18.
***This number does not include people who registered as juveniles and are now over the age of 18.

As of May 2011, here are the 11 states that register juveniles but don’t keep track of the number of registered juveniles:

New Hampshire*
New Jersey

*Juveniles only register if court-ordered to do so; they are not automatically required to register.

As of May 2011, here are the states that do not register juveniles.

District of Columbia
West Virginia

*Offenders who were convicted in juvenile court in another state and then moved to Nebraska are required to register; juveniles from Nebraska are not required to register.
**In Utah, a juvenile is required to register if he or she entered the Youth Corrections system within 30 days of his or her 21st birthday.

To lobby for change in your state, e-mail us at action@marieclaire.com.

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