Adjudicated juvenile sex offenders are processed by the juvenile justice system, which is required to balance the safety of the community with the nearly impossible task of identifying those who are most at risk for re-offending. One juvenile sex- offender expert, Mark Chaffin, noted:

If someone says I want to protect the public from the very small number of individuals who are highly dangerous, but I don't want to put children in institutions for things they might have done, the reality is you cannot have it both ways.

(Michels, 2012, n.p.)

He also explains that a very small number of juveniles are likely to do horrible things. Thus, we run the risk of overreacting and restricting too many juveniles— many of whom would not commit subsequent sex crimes—or underreacting and allowing those who are at high risk to commit future sex crimes or to live in the community with too few restrictions. In this section, we discuss the trends in the juvenile justice system's response to juvenile sex offenders.

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