Publish Date: June 2020 | Download PDF |


Registration[1] and community notification[2] laws originated in the United States, with international adoption of these policies expanding to other countries in subsequent years. Federal and local laws in the United States, as well as a few other Western countries, often require children and adolescents adjudicated for a sexual crime to "register"" their living location and other personal information with the local law enforcement agency on a regular basis. This requirement varies in its duration, but can continue for the rest of the child's or adolescent's life. Further, in some jurisdictions, identifying information is posted on the internet and is available to the general public - the most common form of"community notification."" Failure of the child or adolescent to comply with registration requirements is a crime.

The purpose of this paper is to review the emergence and development of sexual offender registration and community notification (SORN) laws, identify how these laws have been applied to children and adolescents adjudicated for a sexual crime, and consider the extent to which these laws:

  • Are based on research and scientific knowledge;
  • Reduce the chances that others will be victimized in the future by those who are required to register;
  • Prevent offending by those who have not previously been adjudicated or convicted for a sexual crime;
  • Provide actionable information to law enforcement for criminal investigation purposes and to enable the public to take preventive action; and
  • Meet their intended goals of preventing sexual abuse and increasing community safety.

This paper presents conclusions about the effectiveness of registration laws as applied to children and adolescents adjudicated for a sexual crime, and makes recommendations on evidence-based reforms regarding registration and community notification.

[1] Registration: A set of procedures that individuals adjudicated or convicted of sexual crimes must follow to disclose information to law enforcement authorities and to periodically update that information so it remains current. Initially designed as private and for law enforcement only, it has expanded to include dissemination of information to the public.

[2] Community Notification: Systems in which information about individuals required to register is transmitted to the public.

Publication Type:
Policy Papers