Underage Sex Offenders On The Rise

When hearing the term "sex offender," many think of an adult, but the number of teens committing sexual offenses is on the rise in Wichita County.

Probation Officer Kirk Wolfe with the Wichita County Juvenile Justice Center said he has seen a steady increase in the number of teen sex offenders. There were 13 cases in 2010 and 19 cases in 2012. So far this year, there have already been 3 cases filed.

Wolfe said Aggravated Sexual Assault and Indecency with a Child by Contact are the most common offenses. He even said children as young as 10 are committing these crimes.

"It's a serious deal," Wolfe said. "I don't see any reduction in the referrals because there's no reduction in our society's exposure to sexual innuendos."

Wolfe, who's been with the Juvenile Justice Center for 26 years, said no school is immune to having a registered sex offender walking the halls. He warns that each high school campus in Wichita County, along with some junior high and elementary schools, has students who have committed sexual crimes.

"Certainly I've got advice to the kids. You know, don't engage in things you're not supposed to. But it's the parents where the advice goes to. Know what your kids are doing, especially at a young age," said Wolfe.

Research finds exposure to pornography, among other factors, does play a role in some cases. That's why it is so important for parents to monitor their children.

Juvenile offenders have to go through psychological evaluations, are put into treatment programs and take a polygraph test every 3 months. And just like the adult offenders, juvenile offenders aren't allowed to live in or near school zones and other protected areas where children are present.

Cynthia Kobayashi, Newschannel Six.