Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 is a federal statute which was enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress. The act is aimed at protecting “children from sexual exploitation and violent crime”, preventing “child abuse and child pornography”, promoting “Internet safety” and honoring “the memory of Adam Walsh and other child crime victims” (Congress of the United States of America, 2006, p. 1). This is the amendment to the previous law directed at protecting children from crimes. One of the main peculiarities of this act is that it initiates the creation of sex offender registry available for public consideration. The Act also organizes sex offenders into three tiers, from the most serious tier when an offender must update his location every three months during the whole life to the less severe with 1-year update of location for 15 years.
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 is a legislative-initiated policy as it is created by the US Congress and is aimed at controlling the crimes and punishing those who deserve it. The Act was initiated by John and Reve Walsh, who became the protectors of children from sexual abuse after their son Adam was abducted and murdered at the age of 6. Adam’s parents pushed the problem to public consideration and as a result made the US Congress develop an Act which punished sex offenders with more severity (Congress of the United States of America, 2006).
Constitutional Issue in the Act
Those who fail to follow this Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, to register offenders and violate other issues are subjected to the law. The rule of construction in the title of State Constitutionality states that “The provisions of this title that are cast as directions to jurisdictions or their officials constitute, in relation to States, only conditions required to avoid the reduction of Federal funding under this section” (Congress of the United States of America, 2006, p. 13). However, many district courts disagree with the amendment of Bail Reform Act of 1984 (the basis for the current Act) referring to the fact that even the minor misconduct connected with children (without sexual intention) require this person to be registered as the sex offender. This issue is considered as unconstitutional and in need of being revised and corrected (Handler, 2011).
The Affect of the Act on the Community, the Accused, and the Victims
The impact of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 on the community, the accused and the victims is great. However, it is impossible to say that all the aspects of the Act are that great. Considering the impact on society, there are no negative or doubtful issues. According to Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, all sexual offenders must be registered for public consideration. Each citizen has an opportunity to check this register for all states and get to know the latest updating (Iacono, 2011). People feel safety when they know the source of predicted danger and have an opportunity to protect themselves. Victims can also be protected and get to know about the activities of their offenders. The society experience security when it is informed about the possible danger.
However, there is a reverse side in this situation. First of all, it should be stated that in our society children are treated absolutely differently, especially in relation to working, alcohol consumption, voting, etc. Why should they be treated the same way in the relation to sexual performance (Young, 2008)? Secondly, the inclusion of adolescents into this law contradicts “historical philosophies regarding the treatment of juvenile offenders” (Batastini, Hunt, Present-Koller, & DeMatteo, 2011, p. 452).
Therefore, what should be done with public opinion? How can societal attitude to minor offenders (especially those which did not have any sexual underlying reason) change the lives of adolescents? Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 does not answer this question and does not offer any reasons for how children should live with this burden further. The debate between legislative creators and mental health providers continues. Juvenile offenders have always been directed at rehabilitative procedures. The possibility to help adolescents is ruined with their listing in the sexual offenders register (Batastini, Hunt, Present-Koller, & DeMatteo, 2011).
Paying attention to the accused, it should be mentioned that each case should be considered separately. Thus, there are many cases when the Act harmed children it aims to protect. Here are some specific situations which may shed light on the problem. A mother of 4-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son appeared in the complicated situation where she had to choose between her parental love and obedience to judicial system. The daughter of this woman told her mother that her brother “had her perform, what the mother later determined to be, oral sex on him” (Young, 2008, p. 459). After the communication with her son, she found out that a boy saw a picture on the Internet and experimented with his system. Being scared, mother took a boy for psychiatrist for counseling who, in his turn, appealed to authorities. The result of such boy’s curiosity is a registration as a sex offender, each year updating of the current location for fifteen years and school and future employees notification. “What was once a normal boy who was just curious, will be forever seen in society’s eyes, and in his eyes, as a sex offender” (Young, 2008, p. 460), the author of the article states.
Conclusion: Pros and Cons of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
Thus, it may be concluded that there is no firm opinion in the relation to the Act. On the one hand, it hardens the punishment for sexual offenders of children, but on the other hand, it does not give an opportunity for juvenile offenders to rehabilitate and continue normal existence. Most people are unable to understand the difference between tiers 1 and tiers 3 and threat those similarly, that leads to misunderstanding and improper attitude to those who might not even have any sexual motive. Many districts appeal with the request to reconsider the Act and insert changes in the relation juveniles. They should not be listed in the register along with adult sexual criminals who perform their actions consciously.
Batastini, A. B., Hunt, E., Present-Koller, J., & DeMatteo, D. (2011). Federal standards for community registration of juvenile sex offenders: An evaluation of risk prediction and future implications. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 17(3), 451-474.
Congress of the United States of America. (2006). Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (H. R. 4472). Web.
Handler, M. R. (2011). A law of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose: a call to repeal or revise the Adam Walsh Act amendments to the Bail Reform Act of 1984. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 101(1), 279-308.
Iacono, J. (2011). The sex offender registration and notification act and its commerce clause implications. Widener Law Review, 17(1), 227-259.
Young, C. (2008). Children sex offenders: How the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act hurts the same children it is trying to protect. (cover story). New England Journal on Criminal & Civil Confinement, 34(2), 459-484.