Juvenile Sex Offenders: Research Assignment Summary The subject of juvenile sex offenders has traditionally been a hush hush topic, but the rising incidents of sexual crimes by juveniles against juveniles have forced this issue to be addressed. There were twenty thousand sexual offenses committed by adolescents that were reported to the FBI in 1981. The statistics have been growing since then. Currently it is estimated that juveniles account for up to one- fifth of the rapes and one half of the cases of child molestation committed in the United States each year.
Abel and his coauthors (1984) believe that the average adolescent sex offender will commit 380 sex crimes in the course of his life. Davis and Leitenberg (1987) published data indicating that 50 percent of adult sex offenders began their offending careers during their adolescence. For the purpose of this paper I will define juvenile sex offenders as males between the ages of 8 and 15. I feel that those who have reached there sixteenth birthday should be considered adults.
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As defined by the National Adolescents Perpetrator Network (Scavo and Buchanan, 1989, p60) “an adolescent/juvenile sex offender is a “youth” ranging from puberty to the age of legal majority who commits any sexual interaction with a person of any age against the victim’s will without consent, or in an aggressive, exploitive, or threatening manner”. In my paper I will use the term adolescent and juvenile interchangeably. I believe the offender’s family environment and background are relevant factors that influence a juvenile’s behavior.
Adolescents who experienced sexual abuse in the home quickly move from being a victim to becoming an offender. This finding fits with the social theory of Differential Association by Sutherland, whose theory suggests that crime is learned though interaction in small personal groups. Literature Review When it comes to identifying the typical juvenile sex offender “typical” does not exist. There is no typical profile of the juvenile sex offender, just as there is no simple typical profile for the adult sex offender. In my research I have tried to identify general characteristics most juvenile sex ffenders have. The ages of juvenile sex offenders vary, but most tend to be between the ages of 14 and 15. In regards to the socio-economical status of juvenile sex offenders, generally it does not appear different from their otherwise delinquent peers. As with delinquents in general, sexually abusive delinquents are unlikely to be intellectually bright or verbally articulate (Hughughi & Lechardion 1996). They are likely to have significant difficulties in school and they are usually poor achievers (Fehrenbach et al 1986, Kahn and Chambers 1991, Sauders and Awad 1988).
Juvenile sex offenders tend to be anti- social. These youths are often described as “loners” who lack the social skills necessary to develop meaningful relationships. They tend to be more shy, timid and withdrawn than other delinquents who commit non-sexual crimes. Juvenile sex offenders are more likely as a group to have less intimate relationships and fewer friends, particular fewer female friends, only 50 % of juvenile sex offenders had girlfriend compared with 80 % of “normal” delinquents (Becker et al 1991).
As a result of their own isolation from their own peer group, juvenile child molesters may turn to younger children for interactions they perceive as social, emotional safer and easier to control. Researchers have found it useful to distinguish the forms of abuse or offending: (1) Non-contact abuse, which includes exhibitionism, that is exposing oneself indecently, voyeurism and obscene phone calls; (2) Sexual molestation, which covers the full range of abusive acts against a child; (3) Sexual assault, which covers rape or attempted rape of a peer or adult, must often females (Becker et, al 1993, Murphy et al 1992).
As stated before there is a general agreement that by the time an adolescent becomes an adult he has probably committed many abusive acts. In 1989, O’Brien, a juvenile sex offender researcher found that his 170 offenders had committed a total of 1,636 criminal sexual acts against 461 victims. Now I will like to discuss the victims who are children themselves. The victim’s ages vary. The age of the victim depends on what kind of sexual offense was committed. There is a universal agreement that the majority of the reported and detected abusive acts are against females. 7 % of rapes committed by juvenile sex offenders were committed against their female peers. However, the younger the victim the greater likelihood that they will be male (Awad and Saunders 1991, Davies and Leisenberg 1987, Richardson et al 1999). It is important to recognize adolescent sex offenders as a population separate from adult sex offenders. O’Brien and Bera (1986) provided a working classification of adolescent sex offenders that includes seven types of offenders. I will sum up the typologies of adolescent sex offenders briefly.
Type one is the naive experimenter, he is typically between the age of 11 and 14. The naive experimenter is sexually inexperienced and engages in a limited number of sexual acts with younger children. There is no force involved. Type two is the under socialized child exploiter. The sexual offenses they commit are likely to include manipulation, rewards and other enticements. The third type is the pseudo- socialized exploiter, he demonstrates good social skills, and has little behavior problems. The motivation for this offense is a desire for sexual pleasure through exploration.
The fourth type is the sexually aggressive adolescent, he often comes from an abusive and chaotic family. This type of offender is more likely than any other type to have a history of antisocial behavior. The sexual offences they commit involve force and are motivated by the desire to experience power by domination. They also express anger and tend to humiliate their victims. The fifth type of juvenile sex offender is the sexual compulsive. He is often in an emotionally repressive and rigidly enmeshed family.
The offenses that they commit are likely to be hand off. Often the motivation for this type of offender is the alleviation of anxiety. The sixth type of offender is the disturbed impulsive offender, he is likely to have a history of various psychological disorders, serve family dysfunction, substance abuse and significant learning problems. The seventh type of offender is the group- influenced offender. He is likely to be a younger adolescent with no or little previous delinquent history. He engages in the sexual offenses while in the company of a peer group.
The motivation for their offending behavior is likely to be peer pressure and the desire for approval. While researching my project I can across an excellent example of the group- influenced offender. I came across an article from the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Eight boys and a Girl in Berkeley” it reported that seven male students from Berkely middle school rapped an 12 year girl with learning disabilities. Other researches have divided the group of juvenile sex offenders in a more simplistic way. A.
Nicholos author of the article “The Adolescent Sex Offender and His Prey” divided juvenile sex offenders into three groups on the basics of the age of the victim relative to the age of the offender. Type one are those who assault significantly younger victims, that is, a preadolescent child who is at least five years younger then the assailant. Type two are those who assault peer- age victims and type three are those who assault older victims that is an adult victim who is at least 10 years older than the offender.
Researching this project changed my mind about juvenile sex offenders, sex offenders in general for that matter. A question I came across was, what to do wit h juvenile sex offenders once they have been accused or convicted of a sexual crime? The answer to that question is controversial. Some believed they should be punished severely, others believe they should be treated and not confined in prison. I will discuss the treatment options latter in my essay.
One thing is that it appears to be reluctance on the part of the courts and other agencies to view juvenile sex offenders as significant or serious. Some people regard the sexual offenses juveniles commit as sexual experiments or as an expression of the normal aggressiveness of sexually maturing males. For example in Massachusetts by law no male under the age of 14 can be convicted of rape. This statue was written over 100 years ago when it was believed that a male younger then fourteen was incapable of achieving sexual penetration.
Groth, summed it up best in his book Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender “when he stated that “adolescents sexual offenses, especially those involving assault, need to be regarded as equivalent to the more traditional symptoms of emotional disturbance and thus warrant careful psychological assessment by the courts and other related agencies. The all-to- frequent “diagnosis” of “adolescent adjustment reaction” often means that the defects and need of the offender go unrecognized and that the jeopardy he constitutes to the community is perpetuated”.
The question is what can be done about this growing trend of juvenile sex offenders. The answer is easily said then done; the answer is to stop the vicious cycle of sexual abuse. It has already been shown that a proportion of juvenile sex offenders are likely to escalate their behaviors into more serious sexual offences in their adult years. The major goal of treatment is to prevent re-offending. This begins with breaking through denial and processing individual motivations. There have been tremendous advances in treatment available for children and teens that sexually offend.
In 1983 there where 20 programs in the North American compared to the 1,000+ we have today. Treatment for those who have been victimized themselves must include them knowing that it wasn’t their fault they go sexually abused. They must also recognize what they are doing is wrong. Methodology When exploring data on juvenile sex offenders I found that researchers generally relied on any one of the four research methods, which includes, surveys, experiments, naturalistic observation and archival researchers. The research method I relied on most was archival research. It’s basically a reanalysis of collected information.
There are many resources that are available to researchers who are conducting archival researchers such as government agencies published information. This information can include uniform crime reports issued by the FBI. Araji, author of Sexual Aggressive Children explains in her introduction that she obtained research on juvenile sex offenders by talking to professionals around the country who have worked in social work, educational, clinically, justice and media fields. Many researchers who are psychologists rely on natural observation research an example of this is in the following sentence.
Gail Ryan, Thomas Miyoshi, Jeffery Hetzner, Richard Krogman and George Fryer were members of the Uniform Data Collections System (UDCS) which is a function of the National Adolescent Perpetrator Network ( NAPN) they conducted clinical observations of juvenile sex offenders. There were approximately ninety members of the NAPN in 30 states that have contributed data on more that 1,600 juveniles referred to them for specialized evaluations and/or treatment following sexual offenses. There are numerous theoretical explanations for adolescent sex offenders.
While none of the theories fully explain the onset of offending behavior, taken together the theories provide a strong foundation for understanding the perpetrator. The differential association theory is based in the assumption that offending behaviors committed by juveniles are the reaction to their own physical or sexual abuse. The simplest definition of differential association is as follows: the notion that the earlier, the more frequent, the more intense, and the longer the duration of the contacts people have in deviant setting, the greater the probability that they too will become deviant.
This belief is associated with those juvenile sex offenders who have been abused themselves. They were frequently, intensely, and molested for a long periods of time that’s why they become sexually deviant. In 1995 Worling found that 75 percent of offenders who had assaulted at least one child reported being sexual abused compared to 25 percent of offenders who did not assault a male child. It is said that the most shared experience among youth sex offenders is the history of sexual victimizations.
This form of victimization may perpetuate what is commonly known as the cycle of abuse. Juvenile sex offenders learn to be sexual offenders. They are not predisposed biologically or psychological to commit sexual crimes. The primary learning mechanism occurs in association with others. Most responsible for learning are those we are in close association with, usually informal small groups, such as parents, family and friends. Many juvenile sex offenders were victims themselves of sexually molestation or assault.
And not by strangers, but by those they have close associations with like parents and family members. The differential association theory has two basic elements that are content and process. The content juvenile sex offenders learn are the techniques for committing sexual crimes. The way they were abused is the way they are going to abuse, for example if they were touched on their genitals, they are going to touch their victims the same way. The process by which they learn it is important also.
In conclusion juvenile sex offenders think that their behavior is favorable. The only way to stop the cycle is through treatment. References Books Araji, S. (1997). Sexual Aggressive Children: Coming to Understand Them. London, New Delhi: Sage Breer, W. (1996). The Adolescent Molester. Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. Hoghughi, M. (1997) Working With Abusive Adolescent. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Lanier, M. , Henry, S. (1998) Essential Criminology. Colorado, United Kingdom: Westview Press Ryan, G. , Lane, S. (1997).
Juvenile Sex Offenders. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass Publishers. Journals Lakey, J. (1994) The Profile and Treatment of Male Adolescent Sex Offenders. Adolescence, Vol:29, 116 pgs, 755. Ryan, G. , Thomas, M. , Metzer, J. , Krugman, R. , Fryer, G. (1996) Trends in a National Sample of Sexually Abusive Youths. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol: 35, 179pgs. Cashwell, C. Carurso, M. (1997) Journal of Mental Health Counseling. Vol:10, Issue 4, 336pgs.