Mental health professionals, policy makers, and others are curious about the role technology plays in shaping psycho-sexual development and psycho-sexual behavior of adolescents today. The aim of this project is to make meaning and examine what constitutes (or what is) an adolescent sex offender in the digital age. Adolescents behaving on line, via social media, or through social apps create niche behaviors and cultures that do not coalesce with what we would consider “normal” or regular social norms offline.
I explore this phenomena by exploring the following: At what point are children considered sexually deviant? What is normal sexual behavior in a child? The project examines technology (sexting, snap chat) sub-genres of apps and the nature of apps themselves. What is it about the app? Is sexting a form of child sexual deviance? I attempt to consider multi-perspective dynamics of cultural norms, juvenile offenders, and family dynamics and values. As more adolescents interact online and in digital communities, adolescents behave in ways that become problematic when laws collide with this digital communal behaviors. As a clinical social worker certified as a clinical sex offender treatment specialist, more and more adolescents are being referred for sex offenses that include violations of laws related to child pornography.
But what is our role in nurturing children as they formulate their own sexual identity and what does that look like? How can we engage discussion within the family system with children and parents with respect to individual and family norms and values? And how do we shift discourse from punitive to progress? To assist with exploring this question, this project will utilize various multimedia sources including podcasts, hyperlinks to relevant articles, videos, and digital graphics including print media.