Convicted sex offenders may sit next to your child in class, on the bus, or even the playground. That's because there are dozens of sex offenders under the age of 18 in Amarillo.
NewsChannel 10's Marissa Bagg reports on what parents need to know about juvenile sex offenders in your area.
The Potter County Probation Office supervises 34 convicted sex offenders, some as young as age 10. What's more disturbing is they say they're seeing more offenders that are only 10 or 11, in part because of what they're exposed to.
"Some of it is curiosity other times it's inappropriate supervision and exposure to inappropriate material, there is a wonderment in trying to explore the things they've seen," says Donald Gaines, Assistant Chief of the Potter County Probation Office.
Once convicted, juveniles have to attend rigorous treatment sessions for rehabilitation. Probation officers contact them 5 times a week to keep up with their progress and what they're doing. But they do not have to register as a sex offender.
"In general children are given a chance to make a mistake and not pay for it for a number of years to come," says Gaines.
But if they re-offend, they go straight to the Texas Youth Commission. 14,15, and 16 year olds can even be charged as adults if the crime is aggravated. And in some cases, even the parents can be punished, and Child Protective Services gets involved.
"If the children were put in a position that they weren't capable to handling the parent could be charged with neglect and the remainder of the children taken out of the home," says Gaines.
The good news is Gaines says in Potter County 9 out of 10 juveniles complete the treatment program and never commit a second sex crime. But getting through that treatment is tough because offenders are often hiding other sex offenses in their past.
"A lot of these people have a lot more victims then they first let on. They're reluctant to share that kind of information," says Tim Enevoldsen, a licensed professional counselor with the Youth Center of the High Plains.