Despite their developmental differences, children as young as eight years old are subject to the same harsh sex offender registration and notification restrictions as adults. Sex offender registries stigmatize and isolate children, ensuring that their youthful indiscretions follow them into adulthood, limiting their opportunities for healthy growth, and exacerbating the kinds of vulnerabilities that our juvenile justice system tries to protect. When youth are put on registries, their names, photos and addresses are often made public, leading to violence, stigmatization, psychological harm, homelessness, and unemployment.
Through her Stoneleigh Fellowship, Nicole Pittman used policy reform and narrative shifting to change the U.S.’s responses to child sexual offending behavior. Nicole argued that, rather than using valuable resources to punish kids who harm, they should be redirected to evidence-based treatments and interventions that disrupt cycles of trauma and bring healing to communities.
This Stoneleigh Fellowship enabled Nicole to:
- Establish the Center on Youth Registration Reform (CYRR), the first and only national center devoted to providing jurisdictions with technical, legal, and programmatic assistance as they remove youth from registries.
- Develop a diverse and robust coalition of supporters, including stakeholders on both sides of the political aisle as well as juvenile justice administrators, law enforcement professionals, probation officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, child welfare agencies, coalitions to end sexual assault, victim advocates, researchers, treatment providers, and individuals and their family members directly affected by juvenile sex offender registration.
- Spread national awareness of harmful youth registration laws through a comprehensive communications strategy focused on shifting the response to children who commit sexual harm. This strategy aimed to lift the voices of people directly impacted by sexual harm and those whose lives have been shaped by registration laws. It leveraged research that substantiated the safety, human, and fiscal costs that come from placing children on registries.