Article Review: Adolescent Sex Offenders: Early Development

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[. . .] " (Rowe, 1991)

The work of Groth and Loredo (1981) hold that the clinical assessment process must necessarily differentiated among three types of sexual behavior stated as follows:

(1) normative sexual activity that is situationally determined;

(2) inappropriate solitary sexual activity that is non-aggressive in nature; and (3) sexually assaultive or coercive behavior that poses some risk of harm to another person. (Growth and Loredo, 1981)

In regards to treatment, Rowe (1991) states "Treatment can be provided in either a residential (institutional) or out-patient (community) setting. While there may be many common denominators of treatment in each of these settings, there are also major differences. Treatment in a residential or institutional setting is often more intensive. Treatment sessions occur frequently or over a longer period of time. There may or may not be a period of supervision and treatment after an offender's release from an institution. In contrast, outpatient treatment sessions are usually scheduled on a weekly basis and typically cease after six to twelve months." Treatment modes are reported to include the following:

(1) Identification of motives and antecedents for behavior in order to stop the cycle of offending;

(2) Development of acceptance of responsibility for behavior;

(3) Development of empathy for victim(s) and understanding of the impact of offense(s) on victim(s);

(4) Counseling on the offender's own history of victimization;

(5) Education about appropriate sexual behavior and relationships;

(6) Techniques to reduce or eliminate deviant sexual arousal patterns;

(7) Cognitive restructuring to address "thinking errors" that support offending;

(8) Anger management training;

(9) Social skills training; and (10) Discussions and explorations of family issues or dysfunctions, which support or trigger offending. (Rowe, 1991)

According to Rowe "The offenders posed a greater risk of reoffending as juveniles than as adults. The juvenile rate for any rearrest was 2.5 times higher than the adult rate. The offenders were also slightly more likely to have a new sex offense arrest as a juvenile. The one offense type for which there was no difference in the rates between juveniles and adults was violent felony rearrest, although there was a slight difference in the rate of reconvictions.

Rowe (1991) additionally reports the following findings on the number and percentage of offenders rearrested or reconvicted during the follow-up period of the study.

Figure 1

Number and Percentage of Offenders Rearrested/Reconvicted During Follow-Up Period

Source: Rowe (1991)

The probability of first arrest or conviction during each year at risk is reported by Farris to be as follows:

Figure 2

Probability of First Arrest or Conviction During Each Year at Risk

Source: Rowe (1991)

The rearrest and reconviction rates per year at risk as a juvenile and as an adult is reported by Farris to be the following stated findings:

Figure 3

Rearrest/Reconviction Rates Per Year at Risk as a Juvenile and as an Adult

Source: Rowe (1991)

The study of Rowe (1991) reports findings that associations with sexual recidivism in sex offenders vs. all other members of the sample found that truancy history is higher among sex reoffenders than all others and in fact is nearly double non-sex offenders. Thinking errors were also nearly double the percentage in sex offenders than in nonsex offenders. Sex offenders were stated to be 78.6% victims of sexual abuse compared to 50.5% of nonsex offenders and sex offense involving penetration was stated at 94.4% for sex offenders compared to78.2% for nonsex offenders. Deviant arousal was noted in 92.9% of sex offenders compared to 82.7% in all others. The risk cited at the treatment end however is that while none of the sex offenders are capable of self-monitoring, only 13.3% are dangers, and 86.7% are in need of treatment. Half of adolescent sex offenders were found to be social skills deficit and 45% reported using threat or force. Surprisingly only 31.3% blamed the victim, 35.3% expressed empathy for the victim, and 50% expressed remorse for having committed the offense. Adolescent sex offenders were found to have sex knowledge deficits at a rate of 57.9% and 50% of sex offenders reported being a loner.

According to Rowe the youth who "were not referred for a new offense of any kind during the follow-up period significantly differed in many ways from both sex and non-sex recidivists. The non-reoffenders appeared to be the most easily distinguishable group. The NROs were more likely to be older at the time of the original sexual offense. They were less likely to have had difficulties with school, such as behavior problems and truancy. The non-reoffenders were also significantly less likely to have been sexually abused themselves or to have a sibling who was sexually abused. One particularly interesting association concerned social skills deficits. The non-reoffenders were significantly more likely than recidivists to have deficits in social skills.

In general, the NROs were less deviant than the recidivists. They were far less likely to blame their victim(s) for the sexual offense(s). The NROs were less likely to have a deviant sexual arousal pattern and to display sociopathic tendencies. Finally, the NROs were significantly less likely to have had a prior conviction of any kind, as well as a prior conviction for a non-violent felony offense." (Rowe, 1991) There are several variables noted to be significant in separating the non-recidivists and recidivists in that non-recidivists "were somewhat less likely to have had at least one prior conviction for a sexual offense. Only two of the youth (3%) who did not recidivate had a prior sex conviction. Therefore, the sexual offense that determined the non-recidivists' inclusion into the study was almost exclusively the only sexual offense charge for these youth." (Rowe, 1991) These youth were reported to be much less likely to "…have had a prior conviction for a misdemeanor offense.

During treatment, the NROs were more likely to have demonstrated some motivation to change. By the end of their treatment experience, the NROs were somewhat less likely than recidivists to need follow-up treatment or support. No relationships were found between overall recidivism and either the level of coercion used in the commission of the referral sex offense(s) or the severity of the sexual acts. The offender's ability to express empathy for the victim(s) or remorse for the offense(s) were also not related to overall recidivism. Similarly, thinking errors, associations with friends/peers, and sexual knowledge, were all unrelated to reoffending. Finally, neither the location of the treatment nor the risk to reoffend sexually at the end of treatment were related to overall recidivism." (Rowe, 1991) The following table lists the significant associations with overall recidivism (Non-offenders vs. All Recidivists in the Sample)

Figure 4

Source: Rowe (1991)

Adolescents in the 14-15 years age group were more likely to commit a second offense although only slightly higher than the 41.1% stated for adolescents sixteen years of age or older. School behavior problems, deviant arousal and social skills deficits all were significant variables for recidivism of adolescent sex offenders.

The work of Miner (2007) entitled "The Fallacy of Juvenile Sex Offender Risk" reports that a juvenile who becomes involved in "pro-social, educational activities and involved in the community has a greater chance of not committing another sexual offense." Vandiver (2006) examined 300 male adolescent sex offenders and fond that "the recidivism rates were very low when tracked after three to six years into adulthood."

The work of Worling and Curwen (2000) reports a study that examined the "success of specialized adolescent sexual offender treatment by comparing recidivism rates between treated offenders and a comparison group. Additionally, this study examined the predictive utility of the variables assessed with respect to both sexual and nonsexual recidivism. Recidivism data were collected for 58 offenders participating in at least 12 months of a specialized treatment at the SAFET Program. Data were also collected for a comparison group of 90 adolescents who received only an assessment, refused treatment, or dropped out before 12 months were over. Follow-up interval ranged from two to ten years. Results suggest that specialized community-based treatment reduces juvenile sexual recidivism and additionally that the risk of further sexual aggression is related to factors that are unrelated to nonsexual offending." Working et al. (2010) reports a study that is a ten-year follow up to the study of Worling and Curwen (2000) of the 58 adolescents participating in the study and after 20 years it is shown that the specialized treatment for juvenile sex offenders "added to significant reduction in both sexual and nonsexual."

Summary and Conclusion

The studies reviewed in this study have shown that adolescent sex offenders need specialized treatment that is different from that provided to adult sex offenders. It is likely that the adolescent sex offender will not commit further offenses if the sex offender becomes highly involved in the community and its activities. The adolescent sex offender is generally someone with low self-esteem and one who is lacking in social skills, lacking in empathy for others, and generally has to develop in a normal psychological manner.

It is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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