Sex Offenders Under 18: Part II

By Camaron Abundes 
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Juvenile sex offenders sitting side by side with your child in class, it's a scary thought for any parent but area experts say keeping these children busy is actually keeping them out of trouble.

"I like to see them in school, if they're not in school, then they're outside in the community doing things they shouldn't be," Juvenile Probation Officer David Mills, who works out of the Culver Youth Home in Midland, said.

Mills says most children on probation have only committed one offense, and 85 percent never re-offend. Lou Serrano, Director of Juvenile Services at the Ector County Youth Center, says it may even be as high as a 90 percent rehabilitation rate.

"It's rare for us to ever get a child that is brought to us, and placed on community supervision where they've re offended," Serrano said, "The supervision of the kids is so important, but more than that getting these kids rehabilitated, so they're not likely to offend as adults is key."

Scott Martin, a licensed sex therapist, works one-on-one each week with ten kids out of Ector County, most go through at least 18 months of therapy as a part of their probation. Martin says they work through other issues besides their crime.

"Everything from social skills, to home development, to healthy relationships, it's not just about their sexual offense, but it's also about their sexual history," Martin said. Martin also who says half of the children he visits with are victims of abuse themselves.

No parent wants to think about a sex offender walking the halls at their child's school, but Martin says it's about the big picture and giving these kids a chance to turn things around before it's too late.

"A lot of these kids have anger issues as well, they're lacking in social skills and being able to make responsible choices," Serrano said.

Representatives from Midland and Ector Schools say they won't know if a child is an offender unless they're required to register. Currently, a judge can order deferred registration for underage offenders but the Adam Walsh Act, passed into law by the federal government in 2006 would be tougher on underage offenders over 14 years old. Texas Legislature has until next year to adopt the new law or lose funding.

Some have criticized the law saying it's just too strict, but some parents Newswest Nine spoke to say they want the children to register no matter what.