Stigmatization and societal punitiveness about pedophilia have a range of potential consequences, such as the social isolation of people with sexual interest in children, and the formation of policies that are not consistent with empirical research findings. Previous research has shown that people with pedophilic sexual interests use societal thinking to self-stigmatize, which in turn may actually serve to increase their risk of committing a sexual offense. In this study, we compared two attitudinal interventions (first-person narrative vs. expert opinion) using a student sample (N = 100). It was hypothesized that both interventions would lead to reductions in stigmatization and punitive attitudes about pedophiles on an explicit (self-report) level but that only the narrative intervention would lead to reductions of these constructs at the implicit level. Our findings supported both hypotheses. We further discuss the role of narrative humanization in this area and offer suggestions for further research based upon the theoretical and methodological implications of the findings.
The current longitudinal study explored the extent to which implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression predict subsequent sexually aggressive behavior. Participants (248 community men recruited online) completed measures of implicit and explicit evaluations and self-reported sexually aggressive behavior at two time points, approximately 4 months apart. Implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression at Wave 1 had small significant and independent predictive relationships with sexually aggressive behavior at Wave 2, while controlling for sexually aggressive behavior at Wave 1. This is the first study to test whether implicit and explicit evaluations predict subsequent sexually aggressive behavior. Our findings are consistent with the possibility that both implicit and explicit evaluations may be relevant for understanding and preventing subsequent sexually aggressive behavior. If these findings can be replicated, evaluations of sexual aggression should be studied with more rigorous methodology (e.g., experimental design) and correctional/forensic populations, and possibly addressed in risk assessment and interventions.
The purpose of the current study was to explore the relationship between implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression and indicators of sexually aggressive behavior in samples of students and community men recruited online. Participants were male undergraduate students recruited online from a Canadian University (N = 150) and men recruited from the community via an online panel (N = 378). Participants completed measures of implicit and explicit evaluations of sexual aggression, cognitive distortions regarding rape, self-reported past sexually aggressive behavior, and self-reported proclivity to commit sexually aggressive behavior. We found that more positive explicit evaluations and more cognitive distortions were moderately to strongly associated with sexual aggression; however, this was not the case for implicit evaluations of rape. Our results suggest that explicit evaluations of sexual aggression and cognitive distortions may be relevant for understanding sexual aggression against adults, and that more research is needed exploring whether or not implicit evaluations are associated with sexually aggressive behavior.
It is often difficult to ascertain the true extent and nature of sexually deviant behavior, as much relies on self-report or historic information. The polygraph has been proposed as a useful tool in the treatment and supervision of sex offenders. The current review aims to provide a coherent, objective, and recent synthesis of evaluation studies exploring the utility of the post-conviction polygraph (PCSOT) in the treatment and management of sexual offenders. This was assessed based on offense recidivism rates and disclosure; self-reported utility was also considered. Nineteen studies were identified from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands with no randomized controlled trials identified. Overall, there was a significant increase in relevant disclosures associated with the polygraph. The impact on reoffending rates was significant for violent but not sexual offenses. A number of methodological factors introduced the potential for bias in a significant number of studies reviewed in this review.
This content analysis examines written documentation of telephone calls to a regional sexual assault hotline over a 5-year period. All male callers identified as primary victims were selected for analysis (n = 58) and a corresponding sample of female primary victims (n = 58) were randomly selected for comparison to better understand the help-seeking behavior of sexual assault survivors and inform services accordingly. A summative content analysis revealed significant contrasting themes between male and female victims, including females significantly receiving more referrals and males accessing the hotline to tell their experience of being sexually assaulted due to perceived limited support. Implications for training, practice, and future research are discussed.
This study aimed to examine the relationship between exposure to childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and the occurrence of mental illness in adulthood in Nigeria. An age- and gender-matched case–control study was conducted in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria, from January to March 2014. Cases were defined as individuals aged 18 to 60 years diagnosed with mental illness while controls were aged 18 to 60 years who did not have mental illness. The study had 304 subjects comprised of 152 case–control pairs. This case–control study showed a statistically significant association between exposure to CSA and occurrence of mental illness in adulthood (pair-matched odds ratio = 3.25, 95% CI = [1.70, 6.21]). The association between CSA and mental illness was still significant (adjusted odds ratio = 3.11, 95% CI = [1.67, 5.82]) after controlling for family functionality. A robust CSA prevention and treatment strategy that considers the victim and the perpetrator in Nigeria is hereby advocated. This could be achieved by the collaborative efforts of the government of Nigeria and non-governmental organizations.
Smartphone dating applications (apps) have become popular in recent years. However, the association between the use of dating apps and sexual abuse remains uninvestigated. The aim of this study was to examine the association between using dating apps and the sexual abuse of males and females. Six hundred sixty-six participants were recruited in four universities in Hong Kong in 2015. Overall, the 1-year prevalence of sexual abuse was 12.4% (95% confidence interval [CI]: [9.8, 14.9]) and the lifetime prevalence was 14.2% (95% CI: [11.5, 16.9]). Multiple logistic regressions found that users of dating apps (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 2.13, p < .05) were more likely to be sexually abused in the past year than non-users. Using dating apps was also a risk factor of lifetime sexual abuse (aOR: 1.83, p < .05). Our findings suggest that app users should deserve more attention in risk assessment, risk stratification, and sexual abuse prevention programs.
The purpose of this study was to understand sexual assault perpetrators’ emotional responses to perpetration to facilitate treatment development and to better understand processes that may give rise to repeat perpetration. Sixty-one firsthand narratives of sexual assault perpetration, posted on Reddit.com, were analyzed using qualitative text analysis. The analysis revealed four primary emotional responses to perpetrating sexual assault: shame, guilt, depression, and anger. Each emotional response was associated with different contextual features that appeared in the narratives. Shame co-occurred with perpetrator alcohol use and consent confusion, guilt co-occurred with perpetrators’ stated self-growth, anger co-occurred with denial of responsibility and hostility toward women, and depressed affect co-occurred with social isolation following perpetration. The findings indicate certain emotional responses may be more adaptive than others for protecting against repeat perpetration. This research has important implications for the treatment of perpetrators and supports the idea that self-image and perceived social context may be important treatment targets.
This study examined the association between scores on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory–2–Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) with static and dynamic risk assessment instruments, including the STATIC-99 and Level of Service Inventory–Revised (LSI-R). The sample included 304 male adults who were convicted of sexual offenses against children and were referred to a sex offender treatment program. On average, the sample had a Low-Moderate risk of re-offending according to the STATIC-99 and LSI-R. The results indicated that MMPI-2-RF scale scores in this setting are characterized by relatively high levels of under-reporting and externalizing psychopathology compared with the normative sample. We also found that scale scores in this sample produced reliability estimates that were similar to the normative sample. Finally, external correlations between the MMPI-2-RF scales and the risk assessment instruments indicated that the test was associated in expected ways with constructs measured by these instruments. Correlations were most robust among scales in the externalizing/behavioral dysfunction domain of the MMPI-2-RF. Overall, the results of the study support and guide use of the test in this population.
Hebephilia refers to sexual interest in pubescent children who are beginning to show early signs of sexual development but are sexually immature. The present study examined the relationship between hebephilia and victim age choice in a sample of 2,238 adult male sexual offenders. On average, offenders were 39 years old at the time of their assessments, and approximately half (48%) were referred by probation or parole offices. Assessment data included self-report, sexual arousal measured by volumetric phallometry, and victims’ ages. Results suggested that, similar to pedophilia, hebephilia had a medium sized association with a greater number of victims under age 11 and a small sized association with a greater number of victims ages 11 to 14. Unlike pedophilia, a small positive association was consistently found between hebephilia and a greater number of victims ages 15 or 16. Furthermore, a small positive association was observed between victim age polymorphism and hebephilia and pedophilia. The present results suggested that hebephilia was associated with a greater number of victims age 14 or younger and had similar victim age correlates to pedophiles.
Statutory rape is an important yet understudied topic. There is broad public support for the prosecution of older adults who engage in sexual relationships with minors regardless of perceptions of consent by either party. However, some scholars worry that expansive definitions within these laws have led to the widespread involvement of the justice system in the lives of similarly aged teenagers engaging in relatively normal sexual behavior, so called "Romeo and Juliet" liaisons. This, in turn, has called into question the legitimacy of national policies, such as sex offender registration, because of the presumption that registries are likely filled with these kinds of cases which may not represent the intent of legislatures and the public. Despite the importance of these debates, there is little research assessing the prevalence of Romeo and Juliet cases in official crime statistics or that analyze differences in characteristics of statutory rape as a function of victim–offender age differences. Drawing on more than 20 years of police data from over 6,000 police departments in the United States, this study found statutory rape cases were rare and Romeo and Juliet cases were even rarer. Multivariate models showed several distinctions between statutory rape cases as a function of the age differences between victim and offender. Of note, the odds that additional forms of sexual aggression occurred in the incident grew as the age difference expanded.
Implicit theories structure the way people understand and respond to various human actions. Typically, people believe attributes are either fixed (entitists) or malleable (incrementalists). The present study aimed to examine (a) whether attitudes toward sexual offenders differ depending upon one’s implicit theory about human nature and sexual offenders, and (b) whether implicit theories are associated with judgments made about different types of child abusers. A sample of 252 community participants was recruited. Their attitudes, implicit theories, and political orientation were assessed via self-report. One of three vignettes describing an incidence of child sexual abuse was then presented. The cases were identical except the perpetrator was either an adult male, an adult female, or a male juvenile. Participants then made judgments about the offender’s deserved sentence and moral character. Entitists (across both domains) held more negative attitudes than incrementalists, although the magnitude of the difference was greatest when examining implicit theories about sexual offenders. Compared with those with an incremental theory of sexual offenders, entity theorists judged sexual offending to be more (a) indicative of the perpetrator’s moral character and (b) deserving of punishment. However, scores were greater toward the adult male relative to the adult female and juvenile. The findings suggest that implicit theories about sexual offenders are domain specific. They also indicate that judgments made by those with an entity theory (about sexual offenders) are affected by whether a case is representative of a stereotypical sexual offender. Implications of the findings are discussed, along with limitations and future research.
Sexual sadism can be described as the sexual pleasure produced by acts of cruelty and bodily punishment. The most common method for evaluating sexual sadism is clinical evaluation, that is, evaluation based on the diagnostic criteria of nosological instruments such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). It is also possible to evaluate sadistic sexual preferences by phallometry, which provides a physiological measure of sexual excitation by deviant and nondeviant scenarios. The most recently developed evaluation method is the Severe Sexual Sadism Scale (SESAS), a dimensional instrument that has been empirically validated. Despite the availability of all these measurement techniques, very little research has been conducted on their degree of convergence. Consequently, the aim of the current study was to assess the relationship between these three measures of sexual sadism. Our analyses were conducted on a sample of rapists (N = 72), assessed in a maximum-security penitentiary. There was no significant relation between phallometric scores and other measures of sexual sadism. There was, however, an important correlation between SESAS scores and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV) sexual sadism diagnosis. Our results are consistent with other phallometric studies, which reported no difference in the penile responses of individuals diagnosed as sadists and those not diagnosed as sadists. Results and implications for future research are discussed.
The present study examined the predictive properties of Violence Risk Scale–Sexual Offender version (VRS-SO) risk and change scores among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sexual offenders in a combined sample of 1,063 Canadian federally incarcerated men. All men participated in sexual offender treatment programming through the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) at sites across its five regions. The Static-99R was also examined for comparison purposes. In total, 393 of the men were identified as Aboriginal (i.e., First Nations, Métis, Circumpolar) while 670 were non-Aboriginal and primarily White. Aboriginal men scored significantly higher on the Static-99R and VRS-SO and had higher rates of sexual and violent recidivism; however, there were no significant differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups on treatment change with both groups demonstrating close to a half-standard deviation of change pre and post treatment. VRS-SO risk and change scores significantly predicted sexual and violent recidivism over fixed 5- and 10-year follow-ups for both racial/ancestral groups. Cox regression survival analyses also demonstrated positive treatment changes to be significantly associated with reductions in sexual and violent recidivism among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men after controlling baseline risk. A series of follow-up Cox regression analyses demonstrated that risk and change score information accounted for much of the observed differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men in rates of sexual recidivism; however, marked group differences persisted in rates of general violent recidivism even after controlling for these covariates. The results support the predictive properties of VRS-SO risk and change scores with treated Canadian Aboriginal sexual offenders.
Since the advent of the Internet, convictions for the possession, display, trading, and distribution of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) have risen steadily, but little is known about their appropriate assessment and treatment, especially concerning their risk of reoffending. It has been suggested that a conceptual distinction of fantasy- versus contact-driven CSEM users might be of merit. Sixty-eight offenders recruited from sex offender treatment providers were assessed via an anonymous computer survey including a variety of clinical and risk-related variables; the findings showed differences in the psychological profiles between CSEM users and contact child sex offenders. Numerical and spatial methods of data analysis were used to identify subgroups of CSEM users; these confirmed the twofold distinction of fantasy- versus contact-driven offending. The spatial representation of participants identified three dimensions as crucial in the classification of these subgroups: direct sexual contact with a minor, possession of fantasy-generating material, and social contact with other users with a sexual interest in minors; potentially differentiating distinct offender subgroups with different risks and needs. The current study informed the development of an empirical model of CSEM users that could aid in the assessment of risk of reoffending and cross-over to contact sex offending.
There is a growing body of research demonstrating that the therapeutic alliance (TA) affects outcomes among specialized forensic populations, including sexual offenders. Despite this consensus, researchers continue to question whether higher levels of psychopathic traits are conducive to the formation of a therapeutic relationship for high-risk sexual offenders. Thus, the current study adds to the literature by examining the relationship between the TA and levels of psychopathy among a sample of incarcerated sexual offenders participating in sexual offender treatment. Overall, we found no significant relationships between Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R) scores and the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) for either client or therapist ratings. However, when we excluded those offenders who were participating in aftercare, a significant negative relationship was found between client ratings of the Bonds subscale and PCL-R total scores. Next, after controlling for risk and group status (aftercare/non-aftercare), we found no significant differences between either client or therapist total WAI scores when compared by level of psychopathy as measured by the PCL-R (low, >20; moderate, 20-30; and high, >30). Furthermore, when Factor 1 and Factor 2 scores of the PCL-R were examined individually, neither factor significantly predicted either client or therapist total WAI score after controlling for risk and group status. Findings are discussed as they pertain to the treatment of sexual offenders with elevated levels of psychopathic traits.
The purpose of the current study is to review the available scientific evidence on the relationship between testosterone and sexual aggression. A systematic search for all primary studies comparing basal testosterone levels in sex offenders and non-sex offenders was undertaken across 20 electronic databases using an explicit search strategy and inclusion/exclusion criteria. A total of seven studies were identified and 11 effect sizes were computed; effects were pooled using both fixed and random effects meta-analysis models. Although individual study findings present a mix of results wherein sex offenders have higher or lower baseline levels of testosterone than non-sex offenders, pooled results indicate no overall difference between groups. Moderators of the analyses suggest possibly lower rates of testosterone in child molesters than controls; however, results are dependent on study weighting. Limitations, policy implications with respect to chemical castration laws, and future directions for research are discussed.
Online sexual offenders represent an increasingly large proportion of all sexual offenders. Many of these offenders receive noncustodial sentences, and there is a growing need for community-based interventions. The aim of this study was to evaluate a psycho-educational program for community dwelling users of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM). A total of 92 adult male participants completed self-report measures at pre and post. A subset of participants also completed measures after a follow-up period. Results suggested benefits across depression, anxiety, and stress; social competency, including locus of control and self-esteem; and distorted attitudes. Furthermore, these effects remained 8 to 12 weeks following program completion. Our results suggest that CSEM users are amenable to treatment in the community and that there are beneficial outcomes in affective and interpersonal functioning following psycho-education. These factors represent treatment targets for sexual offenders and are recognized risk factors for contact sexual offense recidivism.
Victim choice polymorphism refers to victim inconsistency in a series of offenses by the same perpetrator, such as in the domains of victim age, victim gender, and victim–offender relationship. Past studies have found that victim age polymorphic offenders have higher rates of sexual recidivism than offenders against adults only and offenders against children only. Few studies, however, have examined gender and relationship polymorphism, or accounted for the impact of the number of past victims. The present study analyzed the relationship between polymorphism and sexual recidivism, while controlling for the number of victims. The sample consisted of 751 male adult sexual offenders followed for an average of 10 years, 311 of whom were polymorphic (41% of the total sample). The main finding suggested that there was an association between sexual recidivism and age and relationship polymorphism; however, these associations were no longer significant after controlling for the number of victims.
Few researchers have examined sex trafficking of girls with intellectual disabilities (IDs). Drawing from 54 juvenile sex trafficking (JST) cases, this exploratory, mixed methods study compared 15 JST cases involving girls with ID with 39 JST cases involving girls without ID. Findings revealed a disproportionate risk for exploitation in JST for girls with ID, endangering circumstances creating vulnerability among this population, as well as the perpetrator–victim dynamics that complicate prevention and intervention. Complicating dynamics included victim lack of awareness of exploitation and its endangerments, inability of victims to self-identify, and the relative ease with which traffickers manipulated these girls. The disproportionate risk faced by girls with ID substantiates the need for enhanced safeguards to prevent sexual exploitation of girls with ID including stiffer penalties for those who exploit and buy sex with youth with disabilities.
The role of primary prevention of sexual offences is an understudied area. The current study examined a sample (N = 100) of men charged or convicted of a sexual offence to determine their interest in interventions that could be offered prior to offending, reasons for not seeking out interventions in the past, and demographic information including onset of deviant sexual fantasy and interests. The majority indicated that preventative interventions, including individual and group treatment, would have been beneficial, but inaccessibility of interventions and fear of arrest prevented them from seeking services. The findings suggest that men who progress to committing a sexual offence are interested in preventative interventions but require information regarding availability of accessible support and the development of primary prevention structures to fulfill society’s desire to prevent sexual offending.
To effectively address the needs of youth who perpetrate sexual violence and reduce rates of recidivism, a better understanding of the mechanisms of juvenile sexual offending is needed. Current literature identifies various factors that are believed to put youth at risk for sexual offending, two of which are empathy deficits and childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The extent to which empathy deficits contribute to juvenile sexual offending, however, is often debated, though studies have not yet explored a neurobehavioral model of this mechanism. This pilot study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the neural correlates of empathy in juveniles who sexually offend (JSOs), and the possible role of CSA. A total of 38 males (ages 12-20) were enrolled, including 11 healthy control subjects and 27 JSOs, of which, 11 had a history of CSA. Participants underwent clinical assessment and completed an empathy task during fMRI. Using both whole-brain and region-of-interest analysis, results of the fMRI data showed no statistical differences in engagement of brain regions associated with empathy between controls and all JSOs. There were also no significant differences between JSOs with and without a history of CSA. These null findings pose implications for guiding future research studies with larger samples and more statistical power, and may support the need to further explore empathy-related explanatory models and interventions for JSOs. Neuroimaging may demonstrate to be a useful tool to identify individualized risk factors and aid in tailoring interventions for this population.
Most studies on the mental health consequences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) focus predominantly on CSA survivors who do not commit sexual offenses. The current study examined the effects of CSA on 498 male adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses who represent the small portion of CSA survivors who engage in sexual offenses. The prevalence of internalizing symptoms, parental attachment difficulties, specific sexual offending behaviors, and risk for sexually offending were compared among participants with and without a history of CSA. Results indicated that participants with a history of CSA were more likely to be diagnosed with major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder than those who did not report a history of CSA. A history of CSA was also positively correlated with risk for sexually offending and with specific offense patterns and consensual sexual behaviors. No significant differences emerged on parental attachment difficulties. These results highlight that adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses with a history of CSA present with differences in sexual and psychological functioning as well as markedly different offending patterns when compared with those without a CSA history. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
Cognitive distortions are often referred to as attitudes toward rape in theory, research, and clinical practice pertaining to sexual aggression. In the social-psychological literature, however, attitudes are typically defined as evaluations; thus, in this context, attitudes toward rape are considered evaluations of rape (e.g., rape is negative vs. positive). The purpose of the current study was to explore whether a widely used measure of cognitive distortions (RAPE Scale; Bumby, 1996) assesses evaluation of rape, and, if not, whether evaluation of rape and the cognitions assessed by the RAPE Scale are independently associated with sexually aggressive behavior. Participants (660 male undergraduate students) completed the RAPE Scale as well as measures of evaluation of rape and sexually aggressive behavior. An exploratory factor analysis revealed that the RAPE Scale items formed a correlated but distinct factor from the Evaluation of Rape Scale items. Regression analyses indicated that the Evaluation of Rape Scale and the RAPE Scale had small to moderate independent associations with self-report measures of sexually aggressive behavior. Our results suggest that evaluation of rape may be distinct from cognitive distortions regarding rape, and both evaluation and cognitive distortions may be relevant for understanding sexual violence.
This study examined the predictive and concurrent validity of the Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interests (SSPI) and its recent revision (SSPI-2), using a large sample of 2,416 sex offenders deemed not to be in need of civil management in New York State. Both SSPI and SSPI-2 scores were significantly and positively related to sexual rearrest, but the SSPI-2 provided greater discrimination in rearrest within 5 years across possible scores. Neither measure significantly added to the prediction of sexual rearrest provided by the Static-99R. We also found evidence of concurrent validity, as both measures were positively and significantly correlated with clinician ratings of sexual preoccupation, emotional identification with children, and sexual offense–related cognitions (convergent validity), but were not significantly related to clinician ratings of self-regulation problems, noncompliance with supervision, or antisocial personality (divergent validity). Overall, the results suggest that the SSPI-2 is a specific and useful screening measure of pedophilic sexual interests among sex offenders with child victims.
The predictive validity of the Static-99 measures with ethnic minorities in the United States has only recently been assessed with mixed results. We assessed the predictive validity of the Static-99 and Static-99R with a sample of Latino sex offenders (N = 483) as well as with two subsamples (U.S.-born, including Puerto Rico, and non-U.S.-born). The overall sexual recidivism rate was very low (1.9%). Both the Static-99 measures were able to predict sexual recidivism for offenders born in the United States and Puerto Rico, but neither was effective in doing so for other Latino immigrants. Calibration analyses (N = 303) of the Static-99R were consistent with the literature and provided support for the potential use of the measure with Latinos born in the United States and Puerto Rico. These findings and their implications are discussed as they pertain to the assessment of Latino sex offenders.
Although emotional congruence with children (ECWC) is a risk factor for sexual offending against children, its conceptual validity has hardly been researched. This study aims to explore the construct of ECWC by evaluating the factor structure of the Child Identification Scale (CIS-R) and its relation to facets of sexual preference and child sexual abuse behaviors. It was hypothesized that the measure comprises consistent subscales that are differently associated with aspects of sexual preference and sexual offending against children. CIS-R data of a sample of 217 adult male pedophiles from the community were used for an exploratory principal component analysis (PCA). Group comparisons and a multinomial logistic regression analysis were conducted after including a non-pedophilic control group of 22 adult men. PCA revealed a three-factor solution for the CIS-R accounting for 30% of variance. Group comparisons found differences in overall scores and the factor labeled "Attachment to Children" between subgroups of sexual age and gender preference, but not between contact, online, and non-offenders. The regression analysis showed a pedophile sexual preference and the interaction between a hebephile sexual age preference and the factor "Attachment to Children" being associated with past offending behavior. The results indicate a wish to attach to children as core feature of the CIS-R measure assessing ECWC. It is discussed whether this is an inherent feature of pedophilia or rather an independent aspect being differently distinct in pedophiles.
This review compiles 48 empirical studies and 55 clinical/practice articles specific to group therapy with sex offenders. Historically, group therapy has always been the predominant modality in sex offender–specific treatment. In the first decades of the field, treatment applied a psychoanalytic methodology that, although not empirically supported, fully appreciated the primary therapeutic importance of the group modality. Conversely, since the early 1980s, treatment has applied a cognitive behavioral method, but the field has largely neglected the therapeutic value of the interpersonal group dynamics. The past decade has seen a growing re-appreciation of general therapeutic processes and more holistic approaches in sex offender treatment, and there is an emerging body of empirical research which, although often indirectly concerned with group, has yielded three definitive conclusions. First, the therapeutic qualities of the group therapist—specifically warmth, empathy, encouragement, and guidance—can strongly affect outcomes. Second, the quality of group cohesion can profoundly affect the effectiveness of treatment. Third, confrontational approaches in group therapy are ineffective, if not counter-therapeutic, and overwhelmingly rated as not helpful by sex offenders themselves. Additional conclusions are less strongly supported, but include compelling evidence that sex offenders generally prefer group therapy over individual therapy, that group therapy appears equally effective to individual therapy, and that mixing or separating groups by offense type is not important to therapeutic climate. Other group techniques and approaches specific to sexual abuse treatment are also summarized.
Child sexual exploitation is increasingly recognized nationally and internationally as a pressing child protection, crime prevention, and public health issue. In the United Kingdom, for example, a recent series of high-profile cases has fueled pressure on policy makers and practitioners to improve responses. Yet, prevailing discourse, research, and interventions around child sexual exploitation have focused overwhelmingly on female victims. This study was designed to help redress fundamental knowledge gaps around boys affected by sexual exploitation. This was achieved through rigorous quantitative analysis of individual-level data for 9,042 users of child sexual exploitation services in the United Kingdom. One third of the sample were boys, and gender was associated with statistically significant differences on many variables. The results of this exploratory study highlight the need for further targeted research and more nuanced and inclusive counter-strategies.
Research suggests that there is a relation between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and adulthood nonheterosexual orientation. To explore whether nonheterosexual orientation increases the risk of CSA, we recruited a large sample, added the variable of childhood gender nonconformity (CGNC), and applied the instrumental variable method. We found that heterosexual and nonheterosexual men who were more gender nonconforming in childhood were significantly more likely to report having a history of CSA than their gender-conforming counterparts. There was no relation between CSA and CGNC for heterosexual and nonheterosexual women. The instrumental variable analysis revealed that the increased prevalence of CSA experienced by nonheterosexuals compared with heterosexuals may be due to the influence of sexual orientation on CSA. In sum, the results suggest that nonheterosexuality may increase the risk of childhood sexual abuse.
The therapeutic relationship is a critical component of psychological treatment. Strain can occur in the relationship, particularly when working with offenders, and more specifically, those offenders with interpersonal difficulties; strain can lead to a rupture, which may affect treatment participation and performance. This study examined ruptures in the therapeutic relationship in sexual offenders participating in offense-focused group treatment. Fifty-four sex offenders rated the therapeutic alliance at the commencement and completion of treatment; at the completion of treatment, they also reported on the occurrence of ruptures and whether they believed these ruptures were repaired. Ruptures were separated by type, according to severity—Each relationship was therefore characterized as experiencing no rupture, a minor rupture, or a major rupture. Offender characteristics including interpersonal style (IPS) and psychopathy were assessed at the commencement of treatment; their relationship with ruptures was examined. Results revealed that more than half of the offenders (approximately 55%) experienced a rupture in the therapeutic alliance, with one in four of these ruptures remaining unresolved. Offenders who did not report a rupture rated the therapeutic alliance significantly higher at the end of treatment compared with those offenders who reported a rupture that was not repaired. Offenders who reported a major rupture in the therapeutic relationship were higher in interpersonal hostility and hostile-dominance. No interpersonal or offense-specific factors affected the likelihood of a rupture repair.
The distribution of child sexual exploitation (CE) material has been aided by the growth of the Internet. The graphic nature and prevalence of the material has made researching and combating difficult. Although used to study online CE distribution, automated data collection tools (e.g., webcrawlers) have yet to be shown effective at targeting only relevant data. Using CE-related image and keyword criteria, we compare networks starting from CE websites to those from similar non-CE sexuality websites and dissimilar sports websites. Our results provide evidence that (a) webcrawlers have the potential to provide valid CE data, if the appropriate criterion is selected; (b) CE distribution is still heavily image-based suggesting images as an effective criterion; (c) CE-seeded networks are more hub-based and differ from non-CE-seeded networks on several website characteristics. Recommendations for improvements to reliable criteria selection are discussed.
The Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interests (SSPI) is a structured rating scale of four child victim characteristics: number, age, gender, and relationship of victims. Sexual offenders against children who score higher on the SSPI are more likely to be identified as having pedophilic sexual arousal and are more likely to sexually reoffend. Recent research suggests that child pornography offending is a valid and perhaps independent indicator of pedophilia. In this study, we examined whether child pornography offending would add to the criterion-related validity of the SSPI. In the construction sample of 950 offenders with child victims, the SSPI with a fifth item of child pornography (Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interests–2 [SSPI-2]) was significantly associated with phallometrically assessed sexual arousal to children. In a validation sample of 950 offenders with child victims, the SSPI-2 was again related to phallometrically assessed sexual arousal to children, outperforming the original SSPI. We recommend clinicians and researchers use the SSPI-2 as a structured method of assessing pedophilic sexual interests based on offending behavior.
Transcripts of chat logs of naturally occurring, sexually exploitative interactions between offenders and victims that took place via Internet communication platforms were analyzed. The aim of the study was to examine the modus operandi of offenders in such interactions, with particular focus on the specific strategies they use to engage victims, including discursive tactics. We also aimed to ascertain offenders’ underlying motivation and function of engagement in online interactions with children. Five cases, comprising 29 transcripts, were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis with a discursive focus. In addition to this, police reports were reviewed for descriptive and case-specific information. Offenders were men aged between 27 and 52 years (M = 33.6, SD = 5.6), and the number of children they communicated with ranged from one to 12 (M = 4.6, SD = 4.5). Victims were aged between 11 and 15 (M = 13.00, SD = 1.2), and were both female and male. Three offenders committed online sexual offenses, and two offenders committed contact sexual offenses in addition to online sexual offenses. The analysis of transcripts revealed that interactions between offenders and victims were of a highly sexual nature, and that offenders used a range of manipulative strategies to engage victims and achieve their compliance. It appeared that offenders engaged in such interactions for the purpose of sexual arousal and gratification, as well as fantasy fulfillment.
We surveyed evaluators who conduct sexually violent predator evaluations (N = 95) regarding the frequency with which they use the Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R), their rationale for use, and scoring practices. Findings suggest that evaluators use the PCL-R in sexually violent predator cases because of its perceived versatility, providing information about both mental disorder and risk. Several findings suggested gaps between research and routine practice. For example, relatively few evaluators reported providing the factor and facet scores that may be the strongest predictors of future offending, and many assessed the combination of PCL-R scores and sexual deviance using deviance measures (e.g., paraphilia diagnoses) that have not been examined in available studies. There was evidence of adversarial allegiance in PCL-R score interpretation, as well as a "bias blind spot" in PCL-R and other risk measure (Static-99R) scoring; evaluators tended to acknowledge the possibility of bias in other evaluators but not in themselves. Findings suggest the need for evaluators to carefully consider the extent to which their practices are consistent with emerging research and to be attuned to the possibility that working in adversarial settings may influence their scoring and interpretation practices.
This study examined the association of social anxiety, loneliness, and problematic Internet use (PIU) with the online solicitation of minors. Within a convenience sample of adult Internet users from Germany, Finland, and Sweden (N = 2,828), we compared the responses of participants who had not interacted sexually with strangers online (n = 2,049) with participants who sexually interacted with unknown adults online (n = 642), and both groups with adults who sexually solicited unknown minors online (n = 137). Online sexual interaction with adults was associated with higher levels of social anxiety, loneliness, and PIU compared with not sexually interacting with strangers online. Sexually soliciting minors online was associated with higher levels of social anxiety, loneliness, and PIU compared with sexually interacting with adults and not sexually interacting with strangers at all. Interestingly, compared with those with adult contacts, loneliness was specifically pronounced for participants who solicited children, whereas social anxiety and PIU were pronounced for participants soliciting adolescents. These findings suggest that social anxiety, loneliness, and PIU may be among the motivators for using the Internet to solicit individuals of different age groups for sexual purposes. These factors emerged as specifically relevant for adults who sexually solicited minors and who reported greater impairments compared with adults who sexually interacted with adults. These characteristics may thus be important to consider for assessment and treatment procedures for individuals soliciting minors online.
In Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), volunteers support a medium- to high-risk sex offender in his process toward desistance by developing a long-term empathic relationship. More knowledge is needed about the impact of this work on volunteers themselves. In a sample of 40 Dutch CoSA volunteers—at the time constituting 37% of the national population of 108 then active CoSA volunteers—we measured outcome in terms of volunteer satisfaction, determination to continue, compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary stress, vicarious growth, civic capacities, and professional skills. We explored theoretically derived predictors of positive and negative outcome, and conceptualized them within the Job Demands-Resources model (JD-R). Volunteers reported mainly positive effects, especially high levels of volunteer satisfaction, compassion satisfaction, and determination to continue. Results indicated that job demands and most of the internal job resources were of minor importance. External job resources, especially social support and connectedness, were associated with positive outcome. Connectedness mediated the effect of social support on compassion satisfaction.
Establishing a model of sexual assault reflecting psychosocial and behavioral characteristics of perpetrators of sexual killing and rape is necessary for development in risk assessment and intervention. Methodological variations in defining sexual killing have amalgamated serial and non-serial offenders and perpetrators with direct and indirect associations between killing and sexual arousal. This study defined sexual killing specifying that killing should be directly linked to sexual arousal, and sampled 48 sexual killers, operationalized to include only those engaging in post-mortem sexual interference, with one or two known female victims (non-serial), from prison service national (England and Wales) databases. These sexual killers were compared with 48 non-homicide, life or indeterminately sentenced sexual aggressors on psychological and crime scene characteristics. Contrary to previous research, fatal outcomes were associated with neither stranger victims nor weapon presence; sexual killing was characterized by severity of violence less so than non-fatal assault. Sexual killers more often reported problems with emotional loneliness, empathic concern, and sexual entitlement than the sexual aggressors. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.
Adult men’s height results from an interaction among positive and negative influences, including genetic predisposition, conditions in utero, and influences during early development such as nutritional quality, pathogen exposure, and socioeconomic status. Decreased height, reflected specifically as a decreased leg length, is strongly associated with increased risk of poorer health outcomes. Although prior research has repeatedly shown that pedophiles are shorter than nonpedophiles, the largest study to date relied on self-reported height. In the present study, pedophiles demonstrated reduced measured height and reduced leg length as compared with teleiophiles. Given the prenatal and early childhood origins of height, these findings contribute additional evidence to a biological, developmental origin of pedophilia. In addition, the magnitude of this height difference was substantially larger than that found in children exposed to a variety of early environmental stressors, but similar to that seen in other biologically based neurodevelopmental disorders.
We conducted a systematic review of studies reporting on the effectiveness of Circles of Support and Accountability (Circles). Circles use volunteers to provide support for sex offenders living in the community. We searched 10 databases up to the end of 2013 and identified 3 relevant outcome studies. An additional 12 papers or reports were identified by searching reference lists, Google, and contacting key authors and Circles providers to obtain unpublished data. These 15 studies comprised one randomized controlled trial, three retrospective cohorts with matched controls, and 11 case series. The majority reported measures of recidivism, particularly reconviction. The 4 studies with controls generally reported that participation in Circles was associated with lower recidivism although there were few statistically significant differences. Few studies examined changes in risk or psychosocial outcomes. A number of methodological issues are discussed. Longer term, prospective follow-up studies with control groups are required to address these issues.
This article reviews the current literature pertaining to those who engage in child pornography offending. The basic characteristics of online child pornography offenders (CPOs) and related typologies are briefly presented prior to reviewing the comparative literature pertaining to CPOs and child contact sexual offenders. In general, CPOs have been found to be relatively high functioning and generally pro-social individuals with less extensive and diverse offending histories than contact offenders. CPOs also display high levels of sexual pre-occupation, deviant sexual interests, and deficits in interpersonal and affective domains that surpass those of contact offenders. Although further research is required to replicate and clarify preliminary findings, the available evidence indicates that existing sexual offender risk assessment tools and treatment programs are not suitable for use with CPOs, and thus require revision and empirical evaluation prior to widespread use among this population. The article concludes with implications for clinical practice and directions for future research.
A history of childhood adversity is associated with high-risk behaviors and criminal activity in both adolescents and adults. Furthermore, individuals with histories of child maltreatment are at higher risk for engaging in risky sexual behavior, experiencing re-victimization, and in some cases, becoming sexual offenders. The purpose of the current study was to examine the prevalence of individual and cumulative adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) reported by 102 offending youth who were arrested for trading sex and 64,227 offending youth who were arrested for various other crimes, using Florida’s Positive Achievement Change Tool. Youth with violations related to sex trafficking had higher rates for each ACE as well as number of ACEs, particularly sexual abuse and physical neglect. These findings have implications for identifying adverse experiences in both maltreated and offending youth as well as tailoring services to prevent re-victimization.
The overrepresentation of racial/ethnic minorities within the criminal justice system relative to their population percentage, a phenomenon termed disproportionate minority contact, has been examined within general adult and adolescent offender populations; yet few studies have tested whether this phenomenon extends to juvenile sexual offenders (JSOs). In addition, few studies have examined whether offender race/ethnicity influences registration and notification requirements, which JSOs are subject to in some U.S. states. The present study assessed for disproportionate minority contact among general delinquent offenders and JSOs, meaning it aimed to test whether the criminal justice system treats those accused of sexual and non-sexual offenses differently by racial/ethnic group. Furthermore, racial/ethnic group differences in risk, legal classification, and sexual offending were examined for JSOs. Results indicated disproportionate minority contact was present among juveniles with non-sexual offenses and JSOs in Alabama. In addition, offense category and risk scores differed between African American and European American JSOs. Finally, registration classifications were predicted by offending characteristics, but not race/ethnicity. Implications and future directions regarding disproportionate minority contact among JSOs and social and legal policy affecting JSOs are discussed.
The present study investigated the effects of gender and attractiveness on judgments of bail requirements, incarceration, and sex offender registration lengths, and attitudes toward offenders and victims in a teacher–student sexual perpetration scenario. Researchers presented 432 undergraduate students at a large southwestern university with one of four vignettes detailing a sexual relationship between a 35-year-old teacher and a 14-year-old student. Vignettes varied by both attractiveness and gender of the offender (using heterosexual offender–victim dyads). Results indicate that both gender and attractiveness affect judgments of sex offenders; specifically, female sexual offenders were viewed more leniently and judged less punitively than male sexual offenders. Although attractive female sexual offenders were given particularly lenient treatment, attractiveness did not affect judgments toward male sex offenders. In addition, although male and female participants tended to rate male offenders similarly, male participants were more lenient toward female offenders than were female participants. Finally, post hoc analyses revealed that, for many variables, unattractive female sexual offenders may not be viewed differently from male sexual offenders. These results have serious implications for the legal system, sex offender management, and societal views regarding male and female sexual offenders and their victims.
Although the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol–II (J-SOAP-II) and the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) include an emphasis on dynamic, or modifiable factors, there has been little research on dynamic changes on these tools. To help address this gap, we compared admission and discharge scores of 163 adolescents who attended a residential, cognitive-behavioral treatment program for sexual offending. Based on reliable change indices, one half of youth showed a reliable decrease on the J-SOAP-II Dynamic Risk Total Score and one third of youth showed a reliable decrease on the SAVRY Dynamic Risk Total Score. Contrary to expectations, decreases in risk factors and increases in protective factors did not predict reduced sexual, violent nonsexual, or any reoffending. In addition, no associations were found between scores on the Psychopathy Checklist:Youth Version and levels of change. Overall, the J-SOAP-II and the SAVRY hold promise in measuring change, but further research is needed.
Using data from qualitative interviews and police reports, latent class analysis is used on a sample of 54 repeat stranger sexual offenders who committed 204 sexual assaults to identify discrete contexts present at the time of victim encounter that influence these offenders’ decision to use more than one location to commit their crimes. Five distinct classes are identified: residential outdoor common area, spontaneous/quiet outdoor site, residential home, active green space, and indoor/public gathering place. An investigation into the outcome(s) that most often result from the offender’s decision to move the victim during the sexual assault indicates that those who move the victim from an active green space overwhelmingly engage in sexual penetration, as well as forcing their victims to commit sexual acts on them. Crimes where the victim is moved from a residential home show evidence of the offender physically harming the victim as well as using more force than necessary to complete the assault. Implications for situational crime prevention are discussed.
Very little is known about co-offending by female sexual offenders (FSOs), especially in terms of diverse forms of offender groupings. To address this gap in the literature, this study uses 21 years (1992-2012) of National Incident-Based Reporting System data to analyze incidents of sexual offending committed by four female groupings: solo FSOs (n = 29,238), coed pairs consisting of one male and one FSO (n = 11,112), all-female groups (n = 2,669), and multiple perpetrator groups that consist of a combination of three or more FSOs and male sexual offenders (MSOs; n = 4,268). Using a multinomial logistic regression model, the data show significant differences in offender, victim, and crime context incident characteristics. The data also indicate that incidents with solo FSOs and all-female groups have similar characteristics, coed pairs and multiple perpetrator incidents have similar characteristics, and these two categorizations are fairly distinct from one another. Implications of this research are discussed in addition to directions for future research on female sexual offending.
An increasing amount of research has been carried out to understand the characteristics of subgroups of adult sex offenders, but there is limited research into the risk factors and criminogenic needs of subgroups of youth who sexually offended. The current study investigated if there were differences in the risk and criminogenic needs of 167 Singaporean youth who sexually offended based on two typologies - youth who offended both sexually and nonsexually versus youth who offended only sexually, and youth who offended against child victims versus youth who offended against nonchild victims. Results show that youth who offended both sexually and nonsexually were found to have higher risk and criminogenic needs as compared to youth who only sexually offended. In addition, youth who offended against child victims were found to have higher numbers of previous sexual assaults as compared to youth who offended against nonchild victims. These differences have implications for the management and intervention of youth who sexually offended.
Sex offender outcome studies continue to produce mixed results. A common critique of these studies is their lack of methodological rigor. This study attempts to address this critique by adhering to the standards established by the Collaborative Outcome Data Committee (CODC) aimed at increasing the quality and confidence in outcome studies. We examined recidivism outcomes for a sample of formerly incarcerated sex offenders who participated in a state prison-based cognitive-behavioral-skills-based treatment program. We used propensity score analysis to compare treatment participants with a matched sample of non-participants. The final sample post-matching (n = 512) was observed for a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 14 years. Using survival analysis, findings indicate that there were no differences in recidivism rates between treatment participants and non-participants in sexual or violent crimes. However, participants demonstrated significantly lower rates of recidivism for non-violent crimes. We discuss strengths, limitations of the study, and implications of these findings.
Therapist and treatment process variables affect the effectiveness of offender rehabilitation programs. This study examined the influence of therapists’ and offenders’ interpersonal styles (IPSs) and interpersonal complementarity on therapeutic alliance (TA). Seventy-five sex offenders and their therapists evaluated each other’s IPSs and the TA after 3 weeks of treatment. Offenders evaluated the TA more positively than therapists. Regarding the impact of IPS, therapist affiliation was positively correlated and therapist control was negatively correlated with offenders’ ratings of the TA; in other words, offenders evaluated the TA more strongly when therapists were perceived as affiliative, and weaker when therapists were viewed as controlling. Offender affiliation was positively correlated with therapists’ ratings of TA; in other words, therapists evaluated the TA more strongly when offenders were viewed as more affiliative; perceptions of offender control were unrelated to offenders’ ratings of TA. Complementarity in IPS between offenders and therapists did not affect TA.
The extensive and sometimes profoundly damaging effects of sexual violence and large numbers of victims necessitate dedicated attention to primary prevention efforts. Few studies have examined the scope of current prevention activities or their fit with empirical research into effective prevention strategies. The current article presents findings from a survey of primary prevention activities in non-Māori and bicultural communities within Aotearoa New Zealand. Forty-four respondents representing 42 agencies responded to a comprehensive survey that canvased types of sexual violence primary prevention activities undertaken, sexual violence primary prevention programs, and barriers and supports to sexual violence prevention work. Consistent with findings from previous international surveys, the focus of primary prevention work in New Zealand was on sexual violence education and increasing awareness. Findings are discussed in the context of the sexual violence prevention literature and what works in prevention more broadly to help identify promising initiatives as well as gaps in current practices. Recommendations for advancing sexual violence primary prevention research are also provided.
Associations between self-reported coercive sexual behavior against adult females, childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and child–parent attachment styles, as well as attachment with adult romantic partners, were examined among 176 adult community males. Attachment style with each parent and with romantic partners was also investigated as a potential moderator. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis, avoidant attachment with mothers in childhood (and also with fathers, in a second model) accounted for a significant amount of the variance in coercive sexual behavior controlling for scores on anxious ambivalent and disorganized/disoriented attachment scales, as predicted. Similarly, in a third model, avoidance attachment in adulthood was a significant predictor of coercive sexual behavior controlling for scores on the anxiety attachment in adulthood scale. These main effects for avoidant and avoidance attachment were not statistically significant when CSA and control variables (other types of childhood adversity, aggression, antisociality, and response bias) were added in each of the models. But the interaction between scales for CSA and avoidance attachment in adulthood was significant, demonstrating incremental validity in a final step, consistent with a hypothesized moderating function for attachment in adulthood. The correlation between CSA and coercive sexual behavior was .60 for those with the highest third of avoidance attachment scores (i.e., the most insecurely attached on this scale), .24 for those with scores in the middle range on the scale, and .01 for those with the lowest third of avoidance attachment scores (i.e., the most securely attached). Implications for study design and theory were discussed.
The current study examines offending trajectories of adolescent sexual offenders (ASOs). Until recently, classification frameworks have not been designed to account for the heterogeneity of offending patterns in adolescence, how these are associated with the unfolding of sexual and non-sexual criminal activity, and whether and to what extent they are related to the characteristics of sex offenses in adolescence. The current study takes a longitudinal view of offending in adolescence by examining retrospective longitudinal data of 217 ASOs referred for treatment to a clinical service between 2001 and 2009 in Australia. General offending trajectories in adolescence were examined using semi-parametric group-based modeling, and compared according to non-violent non-sexual, violent-non-sexual, and sex offending criminal activity parameters (e.g., participation, onset, frequency, specialization/versatility) and the characteristics of the referral sexual offense. The results show distinct differences in the unfolding of sexual and non-sexual criminal activity along different offending trajectories of ASOs, and further, that these trajectories were differentially associated with the characteristics of the sexual offenses they committed.
Current American policies and responses to juvenile sex offending have been criticized for being based on myths, misconceptions, and unsubstantiated claims. In spite of the criticism, no organizing framework has been proposed to guide policy development with respect to the prevention of juvenile sex offending. This article proposes a developmental life course (DLC) criminology perspective to investigate the origins, development, and termination of sex offending among youth. It also provides a review of the current state of knowledge regarding various parameters characterizing the development of sex offending (e.g., prevalence, age of onset, frequency, persistence, continuity in adulthood, and versatility). The review highlights some heterogeneity across these developmental parameters suggesting the presence of different sex offending patterns among youth. In fact, it is proposed that, based on the current knowledge, such heterogeneity can be accounted for by a dual taxonomy of adolescents involved in sexual offenses: (a) the adolescent-limited and (b) the high-rate/slow-desister. The DLC criminology approach and the dual taxonomy are proposed as organizing frameworks to conduct prospective longitudinal research to better understand the origins and development of sex offending and to guide policy development and responses to at-risk youth and those who have committed sexual offenses.
Following the implementation of sexual offender notification laws, researchers have found a drop in the rate of prosecutions and an increase in plea bargains for sexual offenses committed by male juveniles. This type of prosecutorial hesitation has implications for the predictive validity of sexual recidivism risk assessments, such as the Juvenile Sexual Offender Recidivism Risk Assessment Tool–II (JSORRAT-II), that require data from officially adjudicated offenses in the scoring of several items. The present study sought to test the impact of including data from documented but uncharged (DBU) sexual offenses in the scoring of the JSORRAT-II on its predictive validity using an exhaustive sample of 1,095 juveniles who offended sexually from the states of Iowa and Utah. Although sexual recidivists had significantly more DBU data, the inclusion of those data did not improve the predictive validity of the tool. The authors discuss additional reasons why changes in prosecutorial practice might remain confound in risk assessment studies and suggest future research to investigate those hypotheses.
In this article, we investigate whether the life events of marriage, parenthood, and employment were associated with general offending for a Dutch sample of 498 juvenile sex offenders (JSOs). In previous empirical studies, these life events were found to limit adult general offending in the population as well as high-risk samples. A hybrid random effects model is used to investigate within-individual changes of these life events in association with general offending. We also investigated whether the findings differed for child abusers, peer abusers, and group offenders, as they have distinct background profiles. We found that JSOs make limited transitions into the state of marriage, parenthood, and employment, showing overall stagnating participation rates. For the entire sample of JSOs, employment was found to be associated with a decrease in offending. Group offenders benefited most from employment. Marriage and parenthood were not associated with the general offending patterns, whereas for child abusers, parenthood was associated with an increase in offending. We conclude that policies aimed at guidance toward employment, or inclusion into conventional society, may be effective for JSOs.
Empirical actuarial risk tools are routinely used to assess the recidivism risk of adult sexual offenders. Compared with other forms of risk assessment, one advantage of actuarial risk tools is that they provide recidivism rate estimates. Previous research, however, suggests that there is considerable variability in the recidivism rates associated with the most commonly used sexual offender risk assessment tools (Static-99/R, Static-2002/R). The current study examined the extent to which the variability in the recidivism rates across 21 Static-99R studies (N = 8,805) corresponded to the normative groups proposed by the STATIC development group (routine, treatment, high risk/high need). We found strong evidence that routine (i.e., complete) samples were, on average, less likely to reoffend with a sexual offense than offenders in the high-risk/high-need samples (i.e., those explicitly preselected on risk-relevant variables external to STATIC scales). The differences between routine/complete and high-risk/high-need samples, however, were only consistently observed for offenders with low or moderate scores; for offenders with high STATIC scores, the 5-year sexual recidivism rates for these two groups were not meaningfully different. There was only limited evidence to support treatment samples as a distinct sample type; consequently, the use of separate normative tables for treatment samples is not recommended. The current results reinforce the value of regularly updating the norms for empirical actuarial risk tools. Options are discussed on how STATIC scores could be used to inform recidivism rates estimates in applied assessments.
As sanctions for those convicted of sex offenses have increased over recent years, the risk for reoffense presented by social isolation increases. Because most jurisdictions struggle with how best to manage and reintegrate sex offenders, this study analyzes bureaucratic and contextual issues with arranging community-based reintegration programs. Specifically, this qualitative, process-oriented study examines and compares Circles of Support & Accountability (CoSA) programs from the United States (specifically, Vermont) and New Zealand. CoSAs provide support for medium- to high-risk sex offenders as they are released to communities. The programs are compared with regard to their structures, the relationship to Corrections, the role of communities, and core members’ reentry challenges. The implications of each configuration are explored. As most of the existing research on CoSAs is focused on recidivism, and as the U.S. federal government is expanding the use of CoSA, this article fills a void in our understanding of the role that communities can play in reintegrating sexual offenders and how program structures shape reentry.
Among many in the research, policy, and practice communities, the application of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) to juveniles who sexually offend (JSO) has raised ongoing concerns regarding the potential collateral impacts on youths’ social, mental health, and academic adjustment. To date, however, no published research has systematically examined these types of collateral consequences of juvenile SORN. Based on a survey of a national sample of treatment providers in the United States, this study investigates the perceived impact of registration and notification on JSO across five key domains: mental health, harassment and unfair treatment, school problems, living instability, and risk of reoffending. Results indicate that treatment providers overwhelmingly perceive negative consequences associated with registration with an incremental effect of notification indicating even greater concern across all five domains. Providers’ demographics, treatment modalities, and client profile did not influence their perceptions of the collateral consequences suggesting that provider concern about the potential harm of SORN applied to juveniles is robust. Policy implications are discussed.
Sexually Violent Predator statutes allow the involuntary treatment of individuals who are found to pose a threat to public safety. Most sex offender treatment programs rely on cognitive interventions to reduce the risk of recidivism. The purpose of this study was to examine (a) whether individuals with paraphilia diagnoses have cognitive deficits compared with the general population; (b) whether individuals diagnosed with pedophilia differed on cognitive performance when compared with individuals diagnosed with paraphilia not otherwise specified (NOS), nonconsent; and (c) whether individuals with paraphilia plus antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) differed in cognitive performance when compared with individuals with a paraphilia diagnosis only. The sample consisted of 170 males (M age = 50.21; SD = 10.22) diagnosed with pedophilia or paraphilia NOS, nonconsent, who were detained or civilly committed to a forensic psychiatric hospital. Assessments included Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), and Wide Range Achievement Test 4 (WRAT4). Individuals diagnosed with pedophilia and paraphilia NOS, nonconsent, obtained lower scores than matched controls based on the RBANS Immediate Memory, Visuospatial/Constructional, Delayed Memory indices and Total Score. In comparison with individuals with paraphilia NOS, nonconsent, those with pedophilia diagnosis had lower scores on the RBANS Delayed Memory. Individuals diagnosed with a paraphilia disorder combined with ASPD demonstrated trends toward lower IQ scores than those with a paraphilia diagnosis only. Treatment programs can improve their chance of success by assessment of cognitive processes, and offer therapy in a style that is consistent with the cognitive abilities of their clients.
Emerging research highlights the role of self-regulation in the treatment of sexual offenders. Safe Offender Strategies (SOS) is a manualized sex offender treatment program that emphasizes the role of self-regulation and self-regulatory skills development in sex offender treatment, particularly for offenders with serious mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities. The current study involves 156 adult male sexual offenders in an inpatient psychiatric setting who received SOS treatment for a period ranging from 6 months to 1 year. Participants’ baseline and treatment data were obtained from archival medical records describing 1 year pre-treatment and up to 2 years of treatment participation. Dependent variables included monthly count rates of verbal and physical aggression and contact and noncontact sexual offending, as well as sexual deviancy attitudes, self-regulatory ability, and cooperation with treatment and supervision, as measured by the Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS). Data were examined via paired-samples t tests, regression, and multilevel modeling, examining the impact of overall percentage of SOS groups attended over time, comparing participants’ baseline measures to data from 2 years of treatment. The impact of predicted risk was also evaluated. Significant treatment dose effects were identified for improvements in aggression, sexual offending, and indicators of treatment compliance and change. These findings suggest that the skills-based, self-regulation approach utilized in SOS may be effective in improving clients’ aggressive and sexual behaviors, attitudes toward their offenses and treatment, and self-regulatory ability over time. Implications for further research and treatment generalizability are discussed.
This article reviews evaluation studies of programs designed to treat sex offenders with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) published in peer-reviewed journals between 1994 and 2014. The design of this study is mirrored after PRISMA (Preferred Reporting of Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) recommendations for conducting a systematic literature review. The study design, study setting, characteristics of participants, type of treatment, and intervention procedures comprise areas of focus for evaluating the implementation of treatment programs. Therapeutic outcomes include changes in attitudes consistent with sex offending, victim empathy, sexual knowledge, cognitive distortions, and problem sexual behaviors. Eighteen treatment evaluation studies were identified from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Cognitive-behavioral treatments were the most commonly delivered treatment modality to sex offenders with IDD. Other less common treatments were dialectical behavioral therapy, problem solving therapy, mindfulness, and relapse prevention. No randomized controlled trials were identified. The most common designs were multiple case studies and pre- and post-treatment assessments with no control and repeated measures follow-up. Small sample sizes, no control groups, and wide variation in treatment length and follow-up time complicate the qualitative synthesis of study findings. Short follow-up times introduce the potential for bias in conclusions surrounding treatment efficacy for many of the studies reviewed in this analysis. The overall quality of studies examining treatments for sex offenders with IDD is poor and requires further development before rendering firm conclusions about the effectiveness of interventions for this population.
Given that sexual offenders are more likely to reoffend with a nonsexual offense than a sexual offense, it is useful to have risk scales that predict general recidivism among sexual offenders. In the current study, we examined the extent to which two commonly used risk scales for sexual offenders (Static-99R and Static-2002R) predict violent and general recidivism, and whether it would be possible to improve predictive accuracy for these outcomes by revising their items. Based on an aggregated sample of 3,536 adult male sex offenders from Canada, the United States, and Europe (average age of 39 years), we found that a scale created from the Age at Release item and the General Criminality subscale of Static-2002R predicted nonsexual violent, any violent, and general recidivism significantly better than Static-99R or Static-2002R total scores. The convergent validity of this new scale (Brief Assessment of Recidivism Risk–2002R [BARR-2002R]) was examined in a new, independent data set of Canadian high-risk adult male sex offenders (N = 360) where it was found to be highly correlated with other risk assessment tools for general recidivism and the Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R), as well as demonstrated similar discrimination and calibration as in the development sample. Instead of using total scores from the Static-99R or Static-2002R, we recommend that evaluators use the BARR-2002R for predicting violent and general recidivism among sex offenders, and for screening for the psychological dimension of antisocial orientation.
This study was designed to compare the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) classification tiers with actuarial risk assessment instruments and existing state classification schemes in their respective abilities to identify sex offenders at high risk to re-offend. Data from 1,789 adult sex offenders released from prison in four states were collected (Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida, and South Carolina). On average, the sexual recidivism rate was approximately 5% at 5 years and 10% at 10 years. AWA Tier 2 offenders had higher Static-99R scores and higher recidivism rates than Tier 3 offenders, and in Florida, these inverse correlations were statistically significant. Actuarial measures and existing state tier systems, in contrast, did a better job of identifying high-risk offenders and recidivists. As well, we examined the distribution of risk assessment scores within and across tier categories, finding that a majority of sex offenders fall into AWA Tier 3, but more than half score low or moderately low on the Static-99R. The results indicate that the AWA sex offender classification scheme is a poor indicator of relative risk and is likely to result in a system that is less effective in protecting the public than those currently implemented in the states studied.
Although executive dysfunctions are commonly hypothesized to contribute to sexual deviance or aggression, evidence of this relationship is scarce and its specificity is unproven, especially among adolescents. The objective of this study was to compare the executive functioning (EF) of adolescents with sexual offense convictions (ASOC) to that of non-sex-delinquents (NSD). A secondary goal was to assess the relationship among specific sexual offense characteristics (i.e., victim age), history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and EF. It was hypothesized that as a group, ASOC would present similar EF profiles as NSD. It was further hypothesized that ASOC with child victims would present significantly higher rates of CSA and more severe impairment of EF than ASOC with peer-aged or older victims and NSD. A total of 183 male adolescents (127 ASOC and 56 NSD) were interviewed to collect demographic information, sexual development history, history of CSA, an assessment of living conditions, and history of delinquency and sexual offending. Participants were administered the Delis–Kaplan Executive Functioning System and the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Youth Version. In accord with the first hypothesis, ASOC and NSD presented similar EF scores, well below normative values. Thus, EF deficits may not characterize the profiles of adolescents with sexual behavior problems. Contrarily to our second hypothesis, however, offending against children and or experiencing CSA were not associated with poorer EF performance. On the contrary, ASOC with child victims obtained significantly higher scores on measures of higher order EF than both ASOC with peer-aged or older victims and NSD. Implications of these results and future directions are discussed.
The aim of the current study was to enhance the assessment and predictive accuracy of risk assessments for sexual offenders by utilizing detailed crime scene analysis (CSA). CSA was conducted on a sample of 247 male acquaintance rapists from Berlin (Germany) using a nonmetric, multidimensional scaling (MDS) Behavioral Thematic Analysis (BTA) approach. The age of the offenders at the time of the index offense ranged from 14 to 64 years (M = 32.3; SD = 11.4). The BTA procedure revealed three behavioral themes of hostility, criminality, and pseudo-intimacy, consistent with previous CSA research on stranger rape. The construct validity of the three themes was demonstrated through correlational analyses with known sexual offending measures and criminal histories. The themes of hostility and pseudo-intimacy were significant predictors of sexual recidivism. In addition, the pseudo-intimacy theme led to a significant increase in the incremental validity of the Static-99 actuarial risk assessment instrument for the prediction of sexual recidivism. The results indicate the potential utility and validity of crime scene behaviors in the applied risk assessment of sexual offenders.
The relationship between protective strengths and risk, as assessed by the Inventory of Offender Risk, Needs, and Strengths, was examined with respect to the recidivism rate and type of reoffense in a sample of 110 adult males incarcerated for sexual offenses. The sample included offenders who were completing a prison-based sexual offense treatment program during the last 18 months of their incarceration. Approximately 40% of the sample recidivated in some way, including 6% sexually, within the 6-year follow-up time. Self-perceived protective strengths were significantly valid predictors for sexual, violent, and general recidivism. In regression analyses, protective strengths accounted for a unique portion of the variance in sexual recidivism while controlling for overall risk. Consistent with research on the importance of protective strengths with other offender types, the continued study and inclusion of protective strengths in the assessment and treatment of sexual offenders is warranted.
A diagnosis of sadism in sexual offenders is commonly regarded as indicative of high risk for violent reoffending. The purpose of the current two studies was to evaluate whether sadism is indeed associated with higher rates of violent (including sexual) reoffending. In Study 1 (meta-analysis), the rate of violent and sexual recidivism was assessed across seven samples of male sex offenders (total N = 2,169) as a function of diagnoses of sexual sadism. In Study 2 (N = 768) the outcome (violent recidivism yes/no) was regressed on sadism, along with behavioral indicators of sexually sadistic offending, and scores from violence risk assessment instruments. In Study 1 (meta-analysis), the overall risk of sadists compared with nonsadists with respect to violent (including sexual contact) reoffending was slightly elevated (by a factor of 1.18), yet not significantly increased. Similarly, the risk of sexual reoffending among sadists was slightly, but not significantly, higher than among nonsadists (factor 1.38). According to Study 2, only a measure of sadistic behavior, not the clinical diagnosis, was associated with violent reoffending. This association, however, was not present once age and customary risk assessment instruments for violence risk were included in the regression. A clinical diagnosis of sexual sadism and behavioral measures of sadism are related to the risk of violent reoffending in sexual offenders. These associations, however, are weak and do not hold once variables relevant for the prediction of violence are controlled for. At the individual level, the risk for future violence in sadists can therefore be adequately described by customary risk assessment instruments.
Particularly over the past two decades, the terms sex offender and juvenile sex offender (JSO) have attained increasingly common usage in media and public policy discourse. Although often applied as factual descriptors, the labels may evoke strong subconscious associations with a population commonly presumed to be compulsive, at high risk of re-offense, and resistant to rehabilitation. Such associations, in turn, may exert considerable impact on expressions of support for certain policies as well as public beliefs and opinions about adults and youth who have perpetrated sexual offenses. The current study systematically evaluated the impact of the "sex offender" and "JSO" labels through series of items administered to a nationally stratified and matched sample from across the United States. The study employed an experimental design, in which one group of participants (n = 498) ranked their levels of agreement with a series of statements utilizing these labels, and a control group (n = 502) responded to a matched set of statements substituting the labels with more neutral descriptive language. Findings support the hypothesis that use of the "sex offender" label strengthens public support for policies directed at those who have perpetrated sexual crimes, including public Internet disclosure, residency restrictions, and social networking bans. The "JSO" label is demonstrated to produce particularly robust effects, enhancing support for policies that subject youth to public Internet notification and affecting beliefs about youths’ propensity to re-offend as adults. Implications for public policy, media communication, and research are explored and discussed.
Sexual offending has attracted increasing public concern because of its long-term effects. Although there is an increasing amount of research on the risk factors for recidivism among youth who have sexually offended, there is a dearth of research on the protective factors for desistence from recidivism. The current study investigated the associations between protective factors and recidivism among 97 Singaporean youth who sexually offended (YSO). In addition, the predictive validity with regard to two new measures of protective factors—the Desistence for Adolescents Who Sexually Harm (DASH-13), and Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for Violence Risk (SAPROF)—were also evaluated. Results indicated that both the DASH-13 and the SAPROF were inversely related to the Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism (ERASOR). However, neither the DASH-13 nor the SAPROF were found to have adequate predictive validity or incremental validity for sexual or nonsexual recidivism. The implications for the assessment and management of YSO are discussed.
Child sexual abuse occurring in a child- or youth-serving institution or organization has attracted great public and scientific attention. In light of the particular personal and offense-related characteristics of men who have abused children within such an institution or organization, it is of special importance to evaluate the predictive performance of currently applied risk assessment instruments in this offender population. Therefore, the present study assessed the risk ratings and predictive performance of four risk assessment instruments and one instrument assessing protective factors concerning any, violent and sexual recidivism in child sexual abusers working with children (CSA-W) in comparison with extra-familial child sexual abusers (CSA-E) and intra-familial child sexual abusers (CSA-I). The results indicate that CSA-W mostly recidivate with a sexual offense. Although all included risk measures seem to function with CSA-W, the Static-99 seems to be the instrument that performs best in predicting sexual recidivism in CSA-W. CSA-W had the most protective factors measured with the Structured Assessment of PROtective Factors (SAPROF). While the SAPROF could not predict desistance from recidivism in CSA-W, it predicted desistance from any recidivism in all CSA. As CSA-W frequently hold many indicators for pedophilic sexual interests but only a few for antisocial tendencies, it can be suggested that CSA-W are at an increased risk for sexual recidivism and thus risk measures especially designed for sexual recidivism work best in CSA-W. Nevertheless, CSA-W also hold many protective factors; however, their impact on CSA-W is not clear yet and needs further study.
This study examined all group sexual offending cases in the Netherlands between 1995 and 2009 (n = 26) in which at least one juvenile female offender (n = 35) had been adjudicated. Information from court files showed that the majority of juvenile female group sexual offenders have (inter)personal problems and (sexual) abuse experiences. The aims of the offender groups in committing the offense could be categorized in three themes: harassing the victim, sexual gratification, and taking revenge. The reasons why juvenile female offenders participated in a group could be categorized into group dynamics versus instrumental reasons. The findings are contrasted with findings on juvenile male group sexual offenders. Implications of the findings for research and treatment are discussed.
Retrospective data from 1,821 women and 1,064 men with one or more siblings, provided anonymously using a computer-assisted self-interview, were used to identify risk factors for sibling incest (SI); 137 were participants in SI. In order of decreasing predictive power, the risk factors identified by the multiple logistic regression analysis included ever having shared a bed for sleeping with a sibling, parent–child incest (PCI), family nudity, low levels of maternal affection, and ever having shared a tub bath with a sibling. The results were consistent with the idea that SI in many families was the cumulative result of four types of parental behaviors: (a) factors that lower external barriers to sexual behavior (e.g., permitting co-sleeping or co-bathing of sibling dyads), (b) factors that encourage nudity of children within the nuclear family and permit children to see the parent’s genitals, (c) factors that lead to the siblings relying on one another for affection (e.g., diminished maternal affection), and (d) factors that eroticize young children (e.g., child sexual abuse [CSA] by a parent). Thirty-eight of the 137 SI participants were participants in coerced sibling incest (CSI). In order of decreasing predictive power, risk factors for CSI identified by multiple logistic regression analysis included ever having shared a bed for sleeping with a brother, PCI, witnessing parental physical fighting, and family nudity. SI was more likely to have been reported as CSI if the sibling had touched the reporting sibling’s genitals, and less likely to have been reported as CSI if the siblings had shared a bed.
Our aim in this study was to evaluate executive function and its relationship to delinquency and sexual crime in adolescents incarcerated for sexual crimes. Based on self-report data, 196 male adolescent sexual offenders from a Midwest state reported high rates of executive dysfunction. Although such deficits did not relate to the number of victims of sexual abuse, severity, or degree of force used in commission of the sexual crimes, poor executive function was significantly predictive of both general delinquency and felony theft. In both measures of delinquent conduct, behavioral regulation dysfunction was predictive of the frequency of commission of the crimes, whereas metacognition was not. Research and treatment implications are offered.
Certain individuals who sexually offend may have difficulty differentiating, identifying, and articulating emotions. These clients may prove challenging for therapists when engaging with them in treatment. Such clients may suffer from alexithymia. There has been a dearth of research regarding specific psychotherapeutic interventions for alexithymia in both the clinical and forensic fields. The present study provides results from a pilot study on the efficacy of a brief, four-session, alexithymia-specific intervention with adults who have sexually offended. The intervention also aimed to increase emotional awareness and psychological mindedness. The intervention was comprised of both mindfulness and mentalization treatment components. Thirty-two men (M age = 41.8 years, SD = 11.9) convicted of sexual offences completed the intervention group. When compared with a matched control condition (n = 27; M age = 39, SD = 10.8), the intervention was effective in decreasing alexithymia characteristics and increasing psychological mindedness. Results suggest that the intervention was an effective means of increasing emotional awareness in this population. These provisional results must be tempered by the limitations of the study. However, the positive findings warrant future investigation. Clinical implications and ideas for future work are also discussed.
Female sex offenders may be implicated in up to one fifth of all sex crimes committed in the United States. Despite previous research findings that suggest unique patterns of offending among female sex offenders, limited empirical research has investigated the motivations and processes involved. The present study qualitatively examined female sex offenders’ offense-related experiences and characterized the internal and external factors that contributed to offending. Semi-structured interviews with 24 female sex offenders were analyzed by a team of coders with limited exposure to the existing literature using grounded theory analysis. A conceptual framework emerged representing distinctive processes for solo- and co-offending, contextualized within ecological layers of social and environmental influence. This model extends previous work by offering an example of nested vulnerabilities proximal to female sexual offending. Implications for future research, prevention, and treatment are discussed.
Although recent typologies of female sexual offenders have recognized the importance of having a co-offender, the clinical characteristics of solo and co-female sexual offenders remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to compare solo (n = 20) and co- (n = 20) female sexual offenders on a variety of clinical characteristics. It was found that although solo and co-offenders reported similar developmental experiences and psychological dispositions, differences were found in environmental niche, offense preceding, and positive factors. Specifically, solo offenders demonstrated a greater presence of personal vulnerabilities including mental health and substance abuse difficulties. Co-offenders reported a greater presence of environmentally based factors, including a current partner who was a known sex offender and involvement with antisocial peers. It is suggested that these results have implications for understanding assessment and intervention needs for these groups of sexual offenders.
This study examined the demographic and background characteristic differences between those arrested for child pornography (CP) possession (only), or CP production/distribution, or an attempted or completed sexual exploitation of a minor (SEM) that involved the Internet in some capacity within the context of self-control theory using data from the second wave of the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study (N-JOV2). Results indicate few demographic similarities, which thereby suggest these are largely heterogeneous groupings of individuals. Results also indicate CP producers/distributers engaged in a greater number of behaviors indicative of low self-control compared with CP possessors. Specifically, offenders arrested for CP production/distribution were more likely to have (a) had problems with drugs/alcohol at the time of the crime and (b) been previously violent. In contrast, the only indicator of low self-control that reached statistical significance for CP possessors was the previous use of violence. Moreover, in contrast to CP producers/distributers, full-time employment and marital status may be important factors to consider in the likelihood of arrest for CP possessors, which is congruent with the tenets of self-control theory.
The relationship that develops between a client and therapist is arguably one of the most important factors toward achieving positive outcomes from therapy. The present study examined the therapeutic alliance, as measured by Horvath and Greenberg’s Working Alliance Inventory (WAI), as a function of Aboriginal ancestry and the relationship of alliance to important program outcomes, in a Canadian correctional sample of 423 treated sexual offenders. The men rated their primary therapists on the WAI 3 months into treatment. Higher self-report ratings on the WAI and its Task, Bond, and Goal subscales were associated with lower rates of treatment non-completion and longer stay in treatment. Aboriginal men scored significantly lower on the WAI’s Bond subscale (i.e., the emotional connection between client and therapist) than non-Aboriginal men, although by and large, the offender sample as a whole otherwise registered fairly high mean scores on the tool. Aboriginal men scoring below the median on WAI total score had the highest rates of treatment non-completion. WAI total score and scores on the three subscales were unrelated to post-program recidivism in the community. Cultural implications for correctional client engagement and service delivery within the context of the risk-needs-responsivity model are discussed.
To date, research on juvenile sexual offender recidivism has tended to focus on risk factors rather than protective factors. Therefore, very little is known about protective factors in the population of juveniles who sexually offended. The aim of the present study was to examine the impact of protective factors on non-recidivism in a sample of accused juveniles who sexually offended (N = 71) in a mean follow-up period of 47.84 months. Protective factors were measured with the Protective Factor Scale of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), and the Structured Assessment of PROtective Factors for violence risk (SAPROF). Criminal charges served as recidivism data. The internal scale of the SAPROF, in particular, yielded moderate predictive accuracy for the absence of violent and general recidivism, though not for the absence of sexual recidivism. No protective factor of the SAVRY did reveal predictive accuracy regarding various types of the absence of recidivism. Furthermore, protective factors failed to achieve any significant incremental predictive accuracy beyond that captured by the SAVRY risk factors alone. The potential therapeutic benefit of protective factors in juvenile sexual offender treatment is discussed.
Some jurisdictions have legally decreed that certain nonsexual offenses (e.g., promoting prostitution of a minor, arson, burglary) can be considered sexual offenses. Offenders convicted of these crimes can be subjected to sexual offender–specific social control policies such as registration, as well as be included in sexual offender research such as recidivism studies. No studies, however, have systematically examined differences and similarities between this new class of sexual offenders and more traditional sexual offenders. The current study used a sample of 94 women convicted of sexual offenses to investigate whether women convicted of promoting prostitution of a minor differed on demographic and criminogenic features from those convicted of more traditional sexual offenses. Results show that women convicted of promoting prostitution offenses have criminal histories more consistent with general criminality and exhibit more general antisocial features than women convicted of traditional sexual offenses. These results support the notion that the inclusion of legally defined sexual offenders with traditional ones obscures important differences in criminogenic features among these women.
This study explored the prevalence of early trauma in a sample of U.S. female sexual offenders (N = 47) using the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) scale. Compared with females in the general population, sex offenders had more than three times the odds of child sexual abuse, four times the odds of verbal abuse, and more than three times the odds of emotional neglect and having an incarcerated family member. Half of the female sex offenders had been sexually abused as a child. Only 20% endorsed zero adverse childhood experiences (compared with 35% of the general female population) and 41% endorsed four or more (compared with 15% of the general female population). Higher ACE scores were associated with having younger victims. Multiple maltreatments often co-occurred in households with other types of dysfunction, suggesting that many female sex offenders were raised within a disordered social environment by adults with problems of their own who were ill-equipped to protect their daughters from harm. By enhancing our understanding of the frequency and correlates of early adverse experiences, we can better devise trauma-informed interventions that respond to the clinical needs of female sex offender clients.
The Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for violence risk (SAPROF) has recently been developed as a risk assessment tool to focus solely on protective factors for (sexual) violence risk. Research on protective factors for sexual offending is very limited and most risk assessment tools for adult sexual offenders do not incorporate protective factors. The current study investigates the applicability and predictive validity of the SAPROF for forensic psychiatric patients who have sexually offended. For a sample of 83 hands-on sexual offenders, risk assessments were carried out retrospectively with the SAPROF, the Historical Clinical Risk Management–20 (HCR-20) and the Sexual Violence Risk–20 (SVR-20). Results show good interrater reliability and negative correlations between the SAPROF and both risk tools. Predictive validities of the SAPROF protective factors for reconvictions of general and sexual violence were good for short-term (1-3 year) as well as for long-term follow-up (15 year). Moreover, the SAPROF remained a statistically significant predictor of future violence and sexual violence even after controlling for the HCR-20 and the SVR-20. Implications of these findings and recommendations for future research are discussed.
Current approaches to violence risk assessment are focused on the identification of factors that are predictive of future violence rather than factors that predict desistance. This is also true for the popular tools designed to predict adolescent sexual recidivism. Research on strengths-based variables with adolescents who have sexually offended that could serve a protective function is only recently underway. In the current prospective study, scores from clinician-completed assessments using the Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism (ERASOR) and the parent-completed form of the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS-2) were evaluated in a sample of 81 adolescent males with at least one sexual offense. As expected, the ERASOR was significantly correlated with sexual recidivism over an average 3.5-year follow-up. In terms of a protective function, the Affective Strength scale of the BERS-2 was significantly negatively correlated with sexual recidivism, although it did not have incremental validity over and above the ERASOR. The BERS-2 School Functioning scale was significantly negatively correlated with nonsexual recidivism. The results are discussed in terms of previous findings and theoretical work on attachment in sexual offending behavior and implications for risk assessment practice.
This study aimed to examine the presence and impact of dynamic protective factors for delinquency in male adolescents with a history of sexual and/or violent offending. Bipolar factors (factors with risk and protective factors being the ends of the same continuum) were examined in male adolescents with a history of sexual offenses against younger children (CSOs; n = 341), a history of sexual offenses against peers and/or adult victims (PSOs; n = 207), and a history of nonsexual violent offenses (VOs; n = 1,356). We conducted secondary analyses on data collected with the Washington State Juvenile Court Assessment and on general recidivism data. ANOVA, correlations, Fisher’s z tests, and logistic regression analyses were applied. Results showed that, in VOs, the number of risk factors was greater than the number of protective factors, whereas in PSOs, and especially CSOs, the number of protective factors was greater than the number of risk factors. Protective factors appeared to be especially important for juveniles with a history of sexual offenses for two reasons. First, the impact of most protective factors on recidivism was larger among juveniles with a history of sexual offenses than among those with a history of violent offenses. Second, protective factors added to the predictive accuracy over and above risk factors in juveniles with a history of sexual offenses, but not in those with a history of violent offenses.
The empirical literature on sexual homicide has posited the sexual murderer as a unique type of offender who is qualitatively different from other types of offenders. However, recent research has suggested that sexual homicide is a dynamic crime and that sexual assaults can escalate to homicide when specific situational factors are present. This study simultaneously explored the utility of the sexual murderer as a unique type of offender hypothesis and sexual homicide as a differential outcome of sexual assaults hypothesis. This study is based on a sample of 342 males who were convicted of committing a violent sexual offense, which resulted in either physical injury or death of the victim. A series of latent class analyses were performed using crime scene indicators in an attempt to identify discrete groups of sexual offenders. In addition, the effects of modus operandi, situational factors, and offender characteristics on each group were investigated. Results suggest that both hypotheses are supported. A group of offenders was identified who almost exclusively killed their victims and demonstrated a lethal intent by the choice of their offending behavior. Moreover, three other groups of sex offenders were identified with a diverse lethality level, suggesting that these cases could end up as homicide when certain situational factors were present.
The predictive validity of the Juvenile Sexual Offense Recidivism Risk Assessment Tool–II (JSORRAT-II) was evaluated using an exhaustive sample of 11- to 17-year-old male juveniles who offended sexually (JSOs) between 2000 and 2006 in Iowa (n = 529). The validity of the tool in predicting juvenile sexual recidivism was significant (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] = .70, 99% confidence interval [CI] = [.60, .81], d = 0.70). Non-significant predictive validity coefficients were observed for the prediction of non-sexual forms of recidivism. Additional analyses were undertaken to test hypotheses about the tool’s performance with various subsamples. The age of the JSO at the time of the index sexual offense and time at risk outside secure facility placements interacted significantly with JSORRAT-II scores to predict juvenile sexual recidivism. The implications of these findings for practice and research on the validation of risk assessment tools are discussed.
A prevailing cultural stereotype about sex offenders is that they tend to specialize in sexual offending. Many recent policy developments—mainly aimed to restrict the liberties of sex offenders—are rooted in this idea. We examined the correctional and arrest records of a sample of 312 sex offenders released on parole in Colorado to determine the prevalence of sexual specialization among these offenders, and to compare the legal and social characteristics of specialists and versatile sex offenders. Overall we found that very few participants officially classified as sex offenders fit the specialist stereotype. Study participants generally displayed versatile histories of criminal offending. We also found that specialists were distinguishable from versatile offenders on certain indices of social integration and mental health, and they were more likely to have had a history of offending against children.
This article considers factors that support or assist desistance from sexual offending in those who have previously offended. Current risk assessment tools for sexual offending focus almost exclusively on assessing factors that raise the risk for offending. The aim of this study was to review the available literature on protective factors supporting desistance from sexual offending. This article discusses the potential value of incorporating protective factors into the assessment process, and examines the literature on this topic to propose a list of eight potential protective domains for sexual offending. The inclusion of notions of desistance and strengths may provide additional guidance to the assessment and treatment of those who sexually offend. Further research investigations are recommended to consolidate the preliminary conclusions from this study regarding the nature and influence of protective factors in enabling individuals to desist from further offending.
It has been suggested that child sexual abuse is related to poor attachment to parents, which is associated with an inability to form intimate relationships. Seto and Lalumière indicated that there were too few studies of adolescent males to determine whether poor attachment was associated with perpetration. This study was designed to follow up on a previous study and further explored the association between insecure attachment to parents, social isolation, and interpersonal adequacy to child sexual abuse perpetration in adolescents. We compared two samples of adolescent males who had committed sexual offenses, those who committed offenses against children (n = 140) and those who committed offenses against peer or adults (n = 92), with a sample of similarly aged males in treatment for mental health or substance use issues (n = 93). Data were collected using a semi-structured interview and computer-administered questionnaire. We found an indirect association between anxious attachment and sexual offenses against child victims, which was accounted for by measures of social involvement and social isolation. These involvement and isolation measures also did not have a direct association with sexual offenses against child victims, in that their contribution was accounted for by a measure of Masculine Adequacy. This Masculine Adequacy, combined with decreased levels of Sexual Preoccupation and Hypersexuality and increased Sexual Compulsivity, was associated with commission of child sexual abuse. The interpersonal variables did not enter a model predicting sexual offending against peers/adults, which seemed solely associated with the interaction between Sexual Compulsivity and Hypersexuality.
Emerging research suggests that sex traffickers/pimps control the majority of trafficked girls in the United States. The youthfulness of these victims and their lack of psychosocial maturity severely diminish their ability to detect exploitative motives or withstand manipulation of traffickers. A review of 43 cases of sexually exploited girls involving non-relative traffickers and 10 semi-structured interviews with social service providers revealed numerous scripts and schemes used by sex traffickers to entrap and entangle victims including boyfriend/lover scripts, ruses involving debt bondage, friendship or faux-family scripts, threats of forced abortion or to take away children, and coerced co-offending. These findings inform potential prevention efforts and highlight the need for multi-systemic, victim-centered approaches to intervention.
Child sexual abuse is associated with social anxiety, low self-esteem, and intimacy deficits. This, in combination with the core belief of a dangerous world, might suggest that child abusers are sexually attracted to submissiveness. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) was used to examine this hypothesis. Results indicated that child abusers have a stronger sexual preference for submissiveness than rapists, although there were no differences between child abusers and non-sexual offenders. Multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed that submissive–sexy associations have incremental value over child–sex associations in differentiating child abusers from other offenders. The predictive value of both implicit associations was explored by correlating IAT scores with measures for recidivism risk, aggression, and interpersonal anxiety. Child abusers with stronger child–sex associations reported higher levels of interpersonal anxiety and hostility. More research on implicit cognition in sex offenders is required for a better understanding of what these and similar implicit measures are exactly measuring and what role implicit cognition may play in sexual offending.
Identifying the ways in which male and female sex offenders differ is an important but understudied topic. Studies that do exist have been challenged by a reliance on small and select samples. Improving on these limitations, we use the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to compare male and female sex offenders among all 802,150 incidents of sexual assault reported to police across 37 states between 1991 and 2011. Findings indicated some broad similarities between groups, including the most prominent offense location (home), most common victim–offender relationship (acquaintance), and the rarity of injuries or drug abuse during crimes. However, the data also showed several important differences between male and female sexual offenders. Most notably, females offended with male accomplices in more than 30% of their sexual crimes—far more often than occurred among male sexual offenders (2%). Likewise, females offended against a victim of the same sex in nearly half of their crimes, yet this was only true in approximately 10% of male sexual offenses. Implications for future research are discussed.
Adolescent abuse of younger children has long been recognized, but empirical research on the circumstances of this phenomenon is rare. This article examines how adolescent offenders find and gain access to victims, work out time alone with them, and set up or exploit settings for sexual contact. Prior researchers learned that adult sex offenders use certain routine activities to perform these tasks. The current research inquires whether adolescent offenders are similar. We administered Kaufman’s Modus Operandi Questionnaire to a sample of 116 Canadian adolescent males undergoing treatment for a sexual offense against a child. Adolescent offenders follow routines similar to adults but are better able to use games and activities as a prelude to sexual abuse. We discuss how routine legal activities set the stage for activities and should be considered when devising situational prevention strategies.
The present study explored the effects of child sexual abuse (CSA) on the adaptation of male juveniles who subsequently sexually offended (JSOs; n = 178; age, M = 16.05 years, SD = 0.27, range = 12-22). It examined multiple levels of interpersonal closeness between the perpetrators of sexual abuse and their JSO victims. JSOs who were sexually abused by older children or adults who cohabitated with them for at least 3 months reported higher levels of emotional dysregulation, callousness/manipulativeness, and sexualization than did both JSOs who were sexually abused by someone they had never lived with and JSOs who reported no experiences of sexual abuse. Implications of these findings are discussed.
The purpose of the current study was to examine whether the MOLEST and RAPE scales and change on these measures predicted sexual recidivism in a sample of 146 adult male sexual offenders who participated in a high-intensity treatment program while incarcerated. The majority of subjects had functional scores on the MOLEST and RAPE scales prior to treatment. Of those who had dysfunctional pre-treatment scores, the majority made significant gains. However, the MOLEST and RAPE scales did not significantly predict sexual recidivism. This was the case for pre-treatment scores, post-treatment scores, and change scores. Our findings are generally not consistent with the view that these measures assess dynamic risk factors for sexual recidivism. However, this is the first published study to examine the predictive validity of these scales and more rigorous research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
More knowledge is needed about the etiology and treatment needs of adolescent sex offenders. The current study compared adolescents who had offended against children (defined as below the age of 12 and at least 5 years younger than the adolescent), adolescents who have offended against peers or adults, and adolescents who had victims in both age groups. Based on Seto and Lalumière’s meta-analytic findings, participants were compared on theoretically derived factors, including childhood sexual abuse, atypical sexual interests, sexual experience, social competence, psychiatric history, and general delinquency factors (past criminal history, substance abuse history, and offense characteristics). The study sample consisted of 162 court-referred male adolescent sexual offenders aged 12 to 17 years. Of the six identified domains, groups significantly differed on five of them; the exceptions were variables reflecting social competence. The results further support the validity of distinguishing adolescent sex offenders by victim age.
In Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), a group of trained volunteers support sex offenders in their desistance process by engaging in a long-lasting empathic relationship. Is it safe to employ volunteers in this way? This literature review provides an overview of both theoretical explanations and empirical evidence of the possible impact of this type of volunteerism on the volunteers themselves. Fifty original research articles and reviews met the selection criteria of a systematic search. Results on effects of volunteering in general, effects of volunteer work with offenders, and effects of working with sex offenders on professionals are summarized and integrated. Generally, volunteering supports and improves physical health and mental well-being, personal growth, and citizenship. However, working with sex offenders in an empathic relationship generates both positive and negative effects on psychological and social function. Personal characteristics, task characteristics, and organizational characteristics moderate and mediate the impact.
Adolescents who have sexually offended have unique treatment needs. For mental health professionals to adequately address these unique needs, further research is necessary. To that end, we explored the assessment of sexual interest (which may play an integral role in understanding potential for sexual reoffending) in a sample of 103 male adolescents who have sexually offended. We compared results from a physiological assessment (MONARCH 21 penile plethysmography [PPG]) and an actuarial assessment (Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interest [SSPI]), plus data from an unobstrusive assessment (Affinity, a viewing time measure) in a smaller subsample of 16 male adolescents. One finding that has particular relevance for clinical assessment is that the SSPI may have limited utility with adolescents. We also found evidence for some overlap between data from PPG and viewing time assessments, although whether or not PPG data are ipsatized may affect relationships with other assessment modalities.
This study explored the prevalence of childhood trauma in a sample of male sexual offenders (N = 679) using the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scale. Compared with males in the general population, sex offenders had more than 3 times the odds of child sexual abuse (CSA), nearly twice the odds of physical abuse, 13 times the odds of verbal abuse, and more than 4 times the odds of emotional neglect and coming from a broken home. Less than 16% endorsed zero ACEs and nearly half endorsed four or more. Multiple maltreatments often co-occurred with other types of household dysfunction, suggesting that many sex offenders were raised within a disordered social environment. Higher ACE scores were associated with higher risk scores. By enhancing our understanding of the frequency and correlates of early adverse experiences, we can better devise trauma-informed interventions that respond to the clinical needs of sex offender clients.
The current study quasi-experimentally assessed the outcome of high-intensity inpatient sex offender treatment in the Netherlands in terms of sexual and violent (including sexual) recidivism. It was hypothesized that treated sex offenders would show lower recidivism rates than untreated sex offenders of the same risk level. In line with the risk principle of the Risk, Need, Responsivity (RNR) model, we predicted that this would especially hold true for offenders of higher risk levels. The study sample consisted of 25% of all convicted Dutch sex offenders not referred to any form of treatment and discharged from prison between 1996 and 2002, and all convicted Dutch sex offenders referred to inpatient treatment who were discharged between 1996 and 2002. Static-99R risk levels of these 266 offenders were retrospectively assessed and survival curves regarding sexual and violent (including sexual) recidivism were compared between treated and untreated offenders, controlling for level of risk. Mean follow-up was 148.0 months (SD = 29.6) and the base rate of sexual recidivism was 15.0% and 38.4% for violent (including sexual) recidivism. Cox regression survival analyses showed marginally significant lower failure rates regarding sexual recidivism for treated high-risk offenders only, and significantly lower failure rates regarding violent (including sexual recidivism) for treated sex offenders of moderate-high and high-risk levels. No treatment effects for low and low-moderate risk offenders were found. Results underscore the risk principle of the RNR model: Treatment is more effective when its dosage is attuned to risk level.
This research explored the therapeutic events both clients and therapists from community-based treatment interventions for perpetrators of sexual abuse identify as significant in their experience of psychological therapy. A qualitative design was utilized to address this research objective. The sample for the present research is comprised of three different treatment programs for sexual offending. Twenty-five clients and nine therapists participated in the study. Two qualitative measures were used to elicit client and therapist responses. Significant Aspects of Therapy Form was administered every second treatment session during each intervention program. The Significant Aspects Follow-Up Interview was conducted with a sub-sample of participants at the conclusion of each treatment module. Thematic analysis was used to identify significant themes noted by clients and therapists from forms and interviews. Thematic analysis resulted in a model of significant events in therapy. In this model, significant events were categorized into six domains. The six domains were as follows: (a) the process of therapy, (b) making changes and progress in therapy, (c) content and structure of therapy, (d) therapist contributions, (e) negative contributions to therapy, and (f) other factors. Each domain further contained between 6 and 18 themes, which are also reported. This study found much overlap and similarity in the experiences of therapy between clients of sexual offender therapy and general psychotherapy. Furthermore, there is overlap between therapists and clients in the aspects of therapy they identify as significant. The implications of these findings on effective service development and comprehensive service evaluations are discussed.
Recently, Wollert and colleagues proposed that sex offender recidivism estimates should be stratified by age and they developed an age-stratified scale called the MATS-1 (Multisample Age-Stratified Table of Sexual Recidivism). The purpose of this article is to highlight concerns with the development of the MATS-1 and to validate the scale using 3,510 sex offenders from 14 unique samples. Concerns with the scale’s development fall into three categories: approximations leading to considerable loss of precision, absence of appropriate statistical tests, and the use of inappropriate statistical techniques. The predictive accuracy of the MATS-1 (Area Under the Curve [AUC] = .663) was significantly lower than Static-99R (AUC = .708). The MATS-1 also significantly underestimated recidivism for some offenders. Both the relative and absolute predictive properties of the MATS-1 were not stable across samples. We conclude that the MATS-1 is not appropriate to use for applied risk assessment. Proposals are made for alternate ways to develop risk scales using the age-stratification method.
The therapeutic alliance has been shown to be integral to treatment outcomes even in forensic settings. There is still a relative dearth of research examining factors related to the formation of the therapeutic alliance in sex offender treatment specifically. Using a sample of 202 incarcerated male sexual offenders participating in sex offender treatment, this study examined whether perceptions of the client–therapist relationship from the perspective of male sexual offenders varied by risk for sexual and general recidivism. Overall, we found a significant negative relationship between risk for sexual recidivism and bond formation. However, when therapist subscale scores on the Working Alliance Inventory were considered by therapist gender, higher risk sexual offenders perceived poorer bonds with their female therapists, relative to their male therapists. Findings are discussed as they pertain to therapeutic relationships and responsivity issues in sex offender treatment.
Hecker raises a number of important considerations in interpreting the review of literature and empirical research presented in Fanniff and Letourneau’s article "Another Piece of the Puzzle: Psychometric Properties of the J-SOAP-II." Despite these considerations and the publication of new research in the interim, the current authors continue to urge caution in the interpretation of Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol-II (J-SOAP-II) scores in disposition evaluations, largely due to the serious consequences that youth face in this context.
This study examines whether clinically meaningful subgroups could be identified within a large, undifferentiated group of convicted adult male sex offenders. Of eight cluster analyses, a reliable three-cluster solution emerged based on the subscores of the Static-2002R with 345 sex offenders. To establish the validity of the emergent clusters, the three groups of offenders were compared on four domains: criminal history, psychosexual development, sexual attitudes and interests, and recidivism. The findings revealed meaningful differences among the group, and the implications of subgroup membership is discussed in terms of risk, treatment, and supervision.
Little research has been conducted to examine paraphilic sexual interests in nonclinical samples. The little that exists suggests that atypical sexual interests are more common in men than in women, but the reasons for this difference are unknown. In this study, we explored the prevalence of paraphilic interests in a nonclinical sample of men and women. We expected that men would report greater arousal (or less repulsion) toward various paraphilic acts than women. We also examined putative correlates of paraphilias in an attempt to explain the sex difference. In all, 305 men and 710 women completed an online survey assessing sexual experiences, sexual interests, as well as indicators of neurodevelopmental stress, sex drive, mating effort, impulsivity, masculinity/femininity, and socially desirable responding. As expected, significant sex differences were found, with men reporting significantly less repulsion (or more arousal) to the majority of paraphilic acts than women. Using mediation analysis, sex drive was the only correlate to significantly and fully mediate the sex difference in paraphilic interests. In other words, sex drive fully accounted for the sex difference in paraphilic interests. The implications of these findings for understanding the etiology of atypical sexual interests are discussed.
Despite indications that acts of frotteurism and exhibitionism are frequent occurrences, these sexual paraphilias have received little empirical attention. To address this gap in our knowledge about these paraphilias, 459 undergraduate students in a major metropolitan city completed a self-report measure designed to investigate the frequency and correlates of frotteurism and exhibitionism. Results indicate a high rate of victimization among female college students for both paraphilias. Furthermore, acts of frotteurism and exhibitionism most often occurred in places related to public transportation (e.g., subway trains or platforms) in this urban setting. In addition, victims reported a number of negative outcomes as a consequence of victimization, including feelings of violation, changes in behavior, and even long-term psychological distress. Older females were the most likely to be victimized. These findings are discussed as they pertain to the prevention and deterrence of paraphilic sexual acts.
Fanniff and Letourneau concluded that neither their review of the published literature nor their own investigation supported the use of Scale 1 of the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol–II (J-SOAP-II). I argue that empirical findings on Scale 1 are mixed and that there is more support in the literature than one might conclude from reading Fanniff and Letourneau. Their negative conclusions about Scale 1 are based on a flawed literature review as well as problematic methods in their own investigation.
Considerable debate surrounds the topic of whether possessing or distributing online images of child pornography (CP) represents a new type of crime perpetrated by conventional sex offenders (e.g., child contact [CC] sex offenders), or whether individuals who commit these crimes differ from contact sex offenders in meaningful ways. The current study compares groups of Internet (CP) and CC sexual offenders, with each group’s sexual offending history exclusively confined to its offense category. T tests were used to conduct bivariate comparisons of group demographics and criminal histories. Rates of recidivism were examined using survival curves and Cox proportional hazard regression models. Results showed significant differences on demographic and criminal history variables, with CP offenders demonstrating a lower frequency of prior criminal offending and substance abuse, and higher rates of pre-incarceration employment and level of education. Rates of recidivism were significantly different between the two groups, with CP offenders showing lower rates of re-offense for most measures of recidivism. When controlling for background characteristics and the timing of the event, CC offenders were at much greater risk for having an arrest for a new crime or a non-sexual violent crime than CP offenders. Treatment and policy implications are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.
National statistics on the incidence of rape play an important role in the work of policymakers and academics. The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) have provided some of the most widely used and influential statistics on the incidence of rape across the United States over the past 80 years. The definition of rape used by UCR changed in 2012 to include substantially more types of sexual assault. This article draws on 20 years of data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System to describe the impact this definitional change will have on estimates of the incidence of rape and trends over time. Drawing on time series as well as panel random effects methodologies, we show that 40% of sexual assaults have been excluded by the prior definition and that the magnitude of this error has grown over time. However, the overall trend in rape over time (year-to-year change) was not substantially different when comparing events meeting the prior definition and the subgroups of sexual assault that will now be counted.
This research focuses on structural covariates of sex crimes in rural communities (using urban and urbanizing communities as comparison groups), with particular analysis on exploring how the magnitude and direction of such covariates differ with respect to type of sex crime. Using 2000 sex crime data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for the population of reporting U.S. cities, negative binomial and logistic regression procedures were used to explore the relationship between resource disadvantage, local investment, and economic inequality and sex crime subtypes. For sex crimes that occurred almost exclusively in the home, urban and urbanizing community rates were largely influenced by resource disadvantage and local investment, while these measures did not reach significance for explaining rural rates. Conversely, local investment was a significant predictor of sex crimes that occurred outside the home in rural communities. This research indicates that a structural analysis of sexual victimization (widely absent from the scientific literature) does yield significant findings and that disaggregation of crime into subtypes allows for a more detailed differentiation between urban and rural communities.
The transience of registered sex offenders (RSOs) is a major impediment to reentry success, particularly because it has been linked to increased absconding and recidivism, and thus decreased community safety. Unfortunately, there is limited existing research on what factors most influence this transience. The purpose of this study was to identify and explore the relative influence of factors predicting transience for RSOs. Using data gathered from the Florida sex offender registry and multiple supplemental state and federal data sources, the analysis revealed a number of county- and individual-level characteristics that are associated with the likelihood of RSO transience. At the county level, these include residence restriction coverage, housing affordability, and population density. At the individual level, these include age, minority status, victim type (minor vs. adult), risk level, supervision status, and prior failure to register convictions. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
This article describes the development and initial validation of the Juvenile Sexual Offense Recidivism Risk Assessment Tool–II (JSORRAT-II). Potential predictor variables were extracted from case file information for an exhaustive sample of 636 juveniles in Utah who sexually offended between 1990 and 1992. Simultaneous and hierarchical logistic regression analyses were used to identify the group of variables that was most predictive of subsequent juvenile sexual recidivism. A simple categorical scoring system was applied to these variables without meaningful loss of accuracy in the development sample for any sexual (area under the curve [AUC] = .89) and sexually violent (AUC = .89) juvenile recidivism. The JSORRAT-II was cross-validated on an exhaustive sample of 566 juveniles who had sexually offended in Utah in 1996 and 1997. Reliability of scoring the tool across five coders was quite high (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] = .96). Relative to the development sample, however, there was considerable shrinkage in the indices of predictive accuracy for any sexual (AUC = .65) and sexually violent (AUC = .65) juvenile recidivism. The reduced level of accuracy was not explained by severity of the index sexual offense, time at risk, or missing data. Capitalization on chance and other explanations for the possible reduction in predictive accuracy are explored, and potential uses and limitations of the tool are discussed.
The growing number of notifications for child pornography (CP) possession constitutes a capacity problem for police forces entrusted with the investigation of these offenses. Notifications of CP offenses in which the investigation reveals concurrent direct victimization, in the form of contact offenses, grooming, online offending, or the production of CP material, form a potential target group for prioritization. The first of the twofold aims of this study was to validate the occurring distinction between mixed suspects (i.e., CP possession suspects who were also ever associated with direct victimization) and CP-only suspects (i.e., CP possession suspects who were never associated with direct victimization) to predict an outcome of the investigation including direct victimization. The second aim was to explore variables related to direct victimization among CP-only suspects. A total of 150 files of police investigations into notifications for CP offenses were studied. Findings confirmed significantly greater prevalence of direct victimization as an outcome of the investigation among mixed suspects than CP-only suspects (90% vs. 10%). Among CP-only suspects, direct victimization was predicted by (a) prior police contacts, charges, or convictions concerning noncontact sexual offending, (b) the confiscation of more than two computers during the house search, and (c) a more serious nature of the CP material that formed the basis for the notification in terms of younger victims and more extreme content. These variables may point to a small subgroup of heavily invested CP offenders who are at a higher risk to cross the line to direct victimization. Cross-validation of these preliminary findings is indicated.
In prospective longitudinal studies of juvenile offenders, the presence of multiple developmental pathways of antisocial behaviors has consistently been identified. An "antisocial" type of juvenile sex offender (JSO) has also been identified; however, whether antisocial JSOs follow different antisocial pathways has not been examined. In the current study, differences in antisocial pathways within JSOs and between JSOs and juvenile non-sex offenders (JNSOs) were examined. Data on Canadian male incarcerated adolescent offenders were used to identify whether behavioral antecedents differed within JSOs and between JSOs (n = 51) and JNSOs (n = 94). Using latent class analysis (LCA), three behavioral groups were identified. For both JSOs and JNSOs, there was a Low Antisocial, Overt, and Covert group. Overall, there were important within-group differences in the behavioral patterns of JSOs, but these differences resembled differences in the behavioral patterns of their JNSO counterpart. Risk factors including offense history, abuse history, and family history were more strongly associated with the Overt and Covert groups compared with the Low Antisocial group. Implications for JSO assessment practices were discussed.
The present study investigated rationality in sexually motivated burglaries. Specifically, we analyzed the situational cues identified by sexual burglars in their target selection. The research project investigated 224 individual incidents of residential burglary with apparent sexual motivations. Situational characteristics of the incidents were recorded and analyzed using forward sequential regressions. Results indicated that most sexually motivated burglaries occurred in occupied residences with deficient physical guardianship, when the victim was alone. Violence, theft, penetration, and fetishism were found to be committed in circumstances that increased the benefits and lowered the risks. Results showed that sexual burglary is rational in nature—sexual burglars chose residences that were easy to break into. We found little support for the premise that such opportunities arose while carrying out regular burglaries. Instead, the data indicated that sexual burglars acted opportunistically on situational cues that are markedly dissimilar to those of regular burglars.
This article describes the construction and testing of a newly designed instrument to assess psychological factors associated with increased rates of sexual recidivism. The new instrument (Structured Risk Assessment–Forensic Version or SRA-FV) was based on previous research using the SRA framework. This article describes the results of testing SRA-FV with a large sample (N = 566) of sexual offenders being evaluated for an early civil commitment program. SRA-FV was found to significantly predict sexual recidivism for both child molesters and rapists and to have incremental predictive value relative to two widely used static actuarial instruments (Static-99R; Risk Matrix 2000/S).
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force personnel face various forms of child exploitation on a daily basis; their jobs require them to view child pornography, participate in undercover chats, interact with offenders in person, and interview abuse survivors. Although exposure to child exploitation and sexual violence has been shown to cause secondary traumatic stress (STS) in certain professions, this is the first large-scale study to investigate risk for STS among ICAC personnel. We circulated an Internet-based survey to ICAC personnel throughout the country and more than 600 individuals responded. Results provide insight into how STS impacts personal and professional well-being. In addition, they highlight which coping mechanisms were inversely related to STS scores. Implications and limitations of the results are discussed.
This study examines whether the presence of state residence restrictions resulted in changes in statewide rates of forcible rape. It builds on the limited geographic coverage of prior studies by including state-level Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data across 19 years for 49 states and the District of Columbia. It uses a quasi-experimental research method based on a longitudinal fixed-effects panel model design, which can help control for relatively static differences between states. Results indicate that when a state residence restriction was present, regardless of how it was measured, rates of UCR forcible rape were higher in the state than when the policy was not present. This suggests that residence restrictions, at least at the state level, are not useful as an overall crime prevention measure, but may be useful for increasing detection or reporting levels of such crimes. However, results also suggest that the size of the increase varied by whether the policy only applied to offenders with child victims or also included those with adult victims. Implications for research and policy are discussed.
The purpose of the present study was to explore the extent to which men and women in the general population report sexual interest in children and to examine distinct developmental experiences associated with self-reported sexual interest. Participants (262 females and 173 males) were recruited online and completed a questionnaire assessing sexual interest and adverse childhood experiences. Among men, 6% indicated some likelihood of having sex with a child if they were guaranteed they would not be caught or punished, as did 2% of women. Nine percent of males and 3% of females indicated some likelihood of viewing child pornography on the Internet. Overall, nearly 10% of males and 4% of females reported some likelihood of having sex with children or viewing child pornography. Males and females with any sexual interest in children reported higher likelihoods of engaging in other antisocial or criminal behaviors and also reported more dysfunctional childhoods (i.e., histories of sexual abuse, insecure parent–child attachments). Theoretical implications of the findings and suggestions for preventing the sexual victimization of children are provided.
The main aim of this study was to examine the effect of a potential guardian on the severity of child sexual abuse. Using data obtained on crime events from adult child sexual offenders incarcerated in Queensland (Australia), mixed-effects logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the effect of potential guardianship on the severity of abuse. Controlling for victim and situational characteristics, the analyses showed that the presence of a potential guardian reduced the duration of sexual contact and the occurrence of penetration. Presence of a potential guardian decreased the risk of sexual penetration by 86%. The study highlights the importance of the presence of a potential guardian for reducing the severity of child sexual abuse, and suggests more broadly that guardianship may be an important protective factor in sexual offending.
We examined the use of risk-change information in sexual offender risk assessments featuring the Violence Risk Scale–Sexual Offender version (VRS-SO), a sex offender risk assessment and treatment planning tool. The study featured a combined international sample of 539 sex offenders followed up an average of 15.5 years post-release. Pre- and posttreatment VRS-SO ratings were amalgamated from two treated samples of sex offenders from Canada and New Zealand. Analyses focused on examinations and applications of change data and its relationship to sexual and violent recidivism. VRS-SO change scores were significantly associated with decreases in these outcome criteria with, and without, controlling for indicators of pretreatment risk (e.g., Static-99R score) and individual differences in follow-up time. Applications of logistic regression using fixed 5-year follow-ups generated estimated rates of sexual and violent recidivism at different VRS-SO score thresholds. The use of logistic regression demonstrated a clinically useful and systematic means of combining risk and change information into posttreatment risk appraisals. Implications for the use of change information in the assessment and management of sexual offender risk are discussed.
This study compares pornography users who report child pornography (CP) consumption with those who do not on demographic characteristics (age, ethnicity, and education level), psychological characteristics (e.g., loneliness, attachment style, anxiety, and sensation seeking), frequency of pornography use, and intentions to engage in contact sexual abuse. Participants were recruited on the Internet to complete an online anonymous survey about "problematic pornography use." Approximately, one fifth of the recruited male pornography users (21%, n = 37) reported consuming CP. The two groups were similar on all demographic and psychological characteristics. However, the probability of CP consumption was the greatest among men scoring high on a measure of sensation seeking who reported frequent pornography use (i.e., statistical moderation). CP consumers also reported a greater interest in engaging in sexual contact with a minor than non-CP consumers.
We present a criminal careers typology of child sexual abusers constructed in terms of their offending persistence (persistent vs. limited) and versatility (specialized vs. versatile). Analyses were conducted on the official records of 362 convicted offenders, 213 of whom also provided confidential self-report data on their personal and offending histories. Forty-one percent of the sample were currently serving sentences for their first sexual offense conviction(s) but had at least one prior conviction for a nonsexual offense (limited/versatile); 36.4% had no previous convictions of any kind (limited/specialized); 17.8% had prior convictions for sexual and nonsexual offenses (persistent/versatile); and 4.8% had prior convictions for sexual offenses only (persistent/specialized). These four groups differed on a range of personal and offense-related variables, including abuse histories, sexual orientation, age at first sexual contact with a child, number of victims, duration of sexual involvement with victims, victim gender, and whether victims were familial or nonfamilial. These differences suggest the need to adopt different treatment and prevention strategies that target the specific characteristics of each group.
In this study, we investigated the use of Visual Reaction Time™ (VRT™) for sexual interest in children to predict recidivism of sexual offenses among men who sexually abused children and men with other sexually deviant behaviors. The authors hypothesized that study participants with a higher VRT™ to stimuli of children would be more likely to sexually reoffend compared with those with a lower VRT™ to stimuli of children. Participants included 621 adult males on parole or probation for acting on a range of sexual paraphilias who sought outpatient treatment or evaluation at two separate therapists’ practices. Sample 1 consisted of 284 adult males followed up (by the lead author) during a 15-year period, while Sample 2 consisted of 337 adult males followed up (by the second author) during a 7-year period. A discrete-time hazard model found VRT™ to children to be significantly related to sexual recidivism. The researchers found that VRT™ to children measured at intake held up in its predictive ability over a 15-year period. When the participants were divided into three groups based on their VRT™, of the 97 participants who measured at least one standard deviation lower than the mean VRT™, 0% reoffended. The 432 participants in the medium-VRT™ group had an estimated recidivism rate of 7% after 15 years and the 92 participants who measured at least one standard deviation higher than the mean had an estimated recidivism rate of 27%.
There has been an increased focus on understanding youth sexual offending in recent years, but there has been limited empirical research on the causes, pathways, and treatment of youth who have sexually offended—especially within a non-Western context. The Good Lives and Self-Regulation Models have often been used to understand and rehabilitate adult sexual offenders, but (unfortunately) there is scant research on youth who sexually offended using these models. The present study aims to describe the different primary goods that are associated with youth sexual offending behaviors in an Asian context. In addition, the study sought to explore whether the age of victim (child vs. nonchild) and nature of sexual offense (penetrative vs. nonpenetrative) influenced the youth’s engagement in offense pathways. The results suggest that pleasure, relatedness, and inner peace were the primary human goods that were most sought after by a sample of 168 youth who sexually offended in Singapore. In addition, offender classification (in relation to the age of victim and nature of sexual offense) influenced the pathways to sexual offending. Therefore, these findings have important clinical implications for assessment, management, and intervention planning for youth who sexually offended.
The effect of number of perpetrators involved in multiple perpetrator rapes on offense characteristics is underresearched despite beliefs that duos/dyads differ in their interactions and dynamics to groups of 3+ members. We analyzed a national sample of 336 allegations of completed and attempted rape of female victims from the United Kingdom. Rapes committed by multiple (duos and groups of 3+ perpetrators) and lone offenders were compared on offense characteristics (incorporating the approach, maintenance, and closure phases of each rape) and victim and offender sociodemographic characteristics. Significant differences between rapes committed by lone, duo, and 3+ group offenders were found for the age and ethnicity of the offenders; the type of approach used; the locations of the initial contact, assault, and release of the victims; the use of a vehicle; the precautions utilized; the verbal themes present; and the sex acts performed. These results have implications for educational prevention programs and interventions with offenders.
The self-regulation model (SRM) is a nine-phase, four-pathway offense process model designed specifically for sexual offenders that is now being applied to the treatment of this group in many settings and jurisdictions. In the present prospective study, we evaluated the validity and utility of the SRM in a sample of 275 adult male sexual offenders treated within the Correctional Service of Canada. Results indicated that participation in treatment resulted in moderate to large sized improvements from pretreatment to posttreatment on a dynamic risk assessment measure and several self-reported treatment targets. These changes were, in some cases, differentially associated with self-regulation pathways, suggesting that offense pathway is a clinically relevant variable when evaluating treatment change and in conceptualizing sexual offender treatment. In terms of outcome, individuals following the approach pathways, particularly the approach-automatic pathway, demonstrated higher failure rates than individuals following avoidant pathways. However, many of these differences were less pronounced when taking risk for recidivism into account. Implications of these findings for the effective assessment and rehabilitation of sexual offenders are discussed.
Adolescent sexual abusers are a heterogeneous group of offenders that often receive generic assessment and treatment services that are modeled on research findings from adult sex offender samples. The emotional Stroop task has been used to measure deviant sexual interest in adult samples. The purpose of the present study was to test whether the emotional Stroop task could also be used to assess deviant sexual interest in adolescent samples. Three groups of adolescents (a) sexual abusers (n = 24); (b) offending controls (n = 21); and (c) nonoffending controls (n = 21) completed two emotional Stroop tasks related to deviant sexual interest and tests of executive function. Adolescent sexual abusers were significantly slower to color-name some word stimuli than both adolescent offending controls and adolescent nonoffending controls. However, the task was unable to differentiate between the groups on most of the Stroop word categories. Very little research has been conducted with adolescent offender samples and the emotional Stroop task. Reaction time (RT) and Stroop bias outcome data for adolescent samples appear to be more unsystematic and weaker than has been observed in previous adult data. Based on potential difficulties with reading and development, the emotional Stroop task may not be a task suitable for measuring deviant sexual interest in adolescent samples.
Research and theoretical models have consistently identified sexual interest in children as a key factor involved in child sexual offending. However, there is only moderate agreement in the diagnosis of pedophilia and different assessment methods identify different offenders as pedophiles. The current study examined the discriminative and convergent validity of three different measures of sexual interest in children. Participants included sex offenders and nonsex offenders recruited from federal prisons (i.e., offenders serving sentences of more than 2 years) in Ontario, Canada. Child molesters’ responses (n = 35) were not significantly different from nonsex offenders (n = 21) on an implicit measure of sexual interest in children (Sexual Attraction to Children Implicit Association Test [SAC-IAT] d = 0.44, 95% CI [–0.11, 0.99]), but differed on the self-report (Sexual Interest Profiling System; d = 0.83, 95% CI [0.27, 1.39]) and viewing time (d = 1.15, 95% CI [0.54, 1.75]) measures. Findings did not provide clear support for the superiority of a multimodal approach, possibly due to the relatively small sample. More often than not, convergence between the three measures was observed (n = 74). Findings from the present study are an important step toward understanding the relationship between different measures of sexual interest in children and establishing their validity.
Existing evidence suggests that offenders tend not to specialize in sexual offending in general but that there is some specialization in particular types of sexual offending. This study examined the sexual histories and reoffending of a large, national data set of offenders convicted of a sexual offense and managed in England and Wales by the National Offender Management Service (N = 14,804). The study found that specialization in sexual offending compared to nonsexual offending was most evident for offenders with convictions for accessing indecent images. We also found considerable evidence of specialization within sexual offending, most notably for noncontact offenders, especially again indecent images offenders. Crossover between sexual offense types was very rare for those with contact adult offenses and for noncontact offenders although those with child contact offenses sometimes crossed over to indecent images reoffending. If specialization within sexual offending exists, the use of single risk assessment instruments to predict all types of sexual recidivism may be less effective than previously assumed. A comparison of different prediction models indicated that some items presently used in one-size-fits-all risk tools to predict any sexual reoffending only effectively predict certain subtypes of sexual offending. Statistically there appear to be some potential benefits to creating specialist risk predictors for different subtypes of offending, but further work is needed to justify the implementation demands that would be caused by abandoning one-size-fits-all tools.
Policies aimed at managing high-risk offenders, which include sex offenders, often assume they are a homogeneous population. These policies also tend to assume the pattern of offending is the same for all sex offenders, and is stable. This study challenges these assumptions by examining the life course offending trajectories of 780 convicted adult male sexual offenders. The men were referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center for civil commitment between 1959 and 1984. The changing number of both sexual and any offenses were examined by age using Group-Based Trajectory Modeling. We identified a four-trajectory model for all offending and a four-trajectory model for sexual offending. The identified groups varied in several offending patterns including criminal onset, length of criminal careers, age of peak offending, and time of entry into the treatment center. Late adult onset of sex offending was found to be associated with child molestation, whereas early-onset trajectories were associated with rape. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.
The present study aimed to examine differences in psychosocial and developmental characteristics between Adolescent Females who have committed Sexual Offenses (AFSOs; n = 40), Adolescent Females who have committed nonsexual Violent Offenses (AFVOs; n = 533), and Adolescent Males who have committed Sexual Offenses (AMSO, n = 743). Results showed that AFSOs and AMSOs were remarkably similar, whereas AFSOs and AFVOs were remarkably different on the measured variables. Compared to AFVOs, AFSOs less often had antisocial friends and problems in the domains of school (truancy, behavior problems, dropping out of school) and family (e.g., parental problems, poor authority and control, and run away from home). Victimization of sexual abuse outside the family and social isolation were found to be more common in AFSOs than in AFVOs. Victimization of sexual abuse outside the family was the only specific characteristic of female adolescent sexual offending, as this was more common in AFSOs than in both AMSOs and AFVOs.
Age at release has become an increasing focus of study with regard to evaluating risk in the sex offender population and has been repeatedly shown to be an important component of the risk assessment equation. This study constitutes an extension of a study of sex offender outcomes prepared for the Evaluation Branch, Correctional Service of Canada. The entire cohort of 2,401 male federally incarcerated sexual offenders who reached their warrant expiry date (WED) within 1997/1998, 1998/1999, and 1999/2000 fiscal years were reviewed for the study. Sexual and violent reconviction information was obtained from CPIC criminal records over an average of 12.0 years (SD = 1.7) follow-up. This study focused upon the cohort of sex offenders who were 50 years or older at time of release (N = 542). They were stratified according to risk using a brief actuarial scale (BARS) comprising six binary variables. For the most part, older offenders showed low base rates of sexual recidivism regardless of the risk band into which they fell. The exception was a small group of elderly offenders (n = 20) who fell into the highest risk band, and who showed high levels of sexual recidivism. The results of this combination of cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of elderly sexual offenders may have important implications for offender management, particularly in light of the increasing numbers of offenders in Canada who fall into the over 50 age cohort.
Most child pornography is distributed online. It is estimated that 3% to 15% of child pornography consumers are juveniles. The present study analyzed a consecutive sample of 54 male juveniles convicted of the possession of child pornography. Demographic characteristics, criminal history, and subsequent offending were assessed from criminal files and official reports. Juvenile possessors of child pornography were compared to three different groups of juveniles: Juvenile possessors of other illegal pornography (n = 42), juveniles who committed a sexual contact offense against a child (n = 64), and juveniles who committed a sexual contact offense against a peer or adult (n = 104). Juvenile possessors of child pornography were found to have downloaded the illegal material more frequently and over a longer time period than juvenile possessors of other illegal pornography. Furthermore, juvenile possessors of child pornography differed from juveniles who had committed a sexual contact offense in terms of demographics and showed fewer previous and subsequent offending than juveniles who sexually offended against a peer or adult. We conclude that juvenile possessors of child pornography need a specific target intervention focusing on dysfunctional Internet use and sexually deviant arousal.
This research examined whether a government-initiated pilot project of mandatory polygraph testing would increase the disclosures made by community-supervised sexual offenders in the United Kingdom. The Offender Managers of 332 pilot polygraph sexual offenders and 303 sexual offenders who were receiving usual community supervision were telephoned quarterly, over a 21-month period, to collect information about numbers of clinically relevant disclosures, the seriousness of disclosures made, and actions taken as a result of disclosures. Perceptions of polygraph usefulness were also collected. Offender Managers in the pilot polygraph group—compared to comparison Offender Managers—reported (a) a higher proportion of offenders making at least one disclosure (i.e., 76.5% vs. 51.2% respectively), and (b) that their offenders made more total disclosures overall (Ms = 2.60 vs. 1.25 respectively). The majority of disclosures made by sexual offenders in the polygraph group were associated with the polygraph session itself. Polygraph Offender Managers reported being more likely to take an action that involved increasing supervision, informing a third party, informing Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), changing supervision focus, or issuing a warning to the offender. However, the relative seriousness of disclosures did not appear to differ across groups. In terms of polygraph test results, one third of offenders (most notably those who were higher in risk) failed their first test with "Deception Indicated." This outcome—received on a first test—was most likely to elicit clinically relevant disclosures. Offender Managers described the polygraph as aiding supervision strategies. This research and its associated caveats are discussed.
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is one widely cited risk factor for Sexually Intrusive Behavior (SIB) among boys. To identify variables that moderate the early onset of SIB in a sample of boys, alleged victims of sexual abuse, the current study involved a prospective examination of all investigations of male CSA victims and those of boys aged under 14 who were suspected of committing SIBs on other children in Israel over a 10-year period. Comparing victims with and without SIB records revealed differences on personal and family factors as well as on the characteristics of abuse. A regression model controlling for age and family factors correctly classified over three quarters of the subjects based on reported experiences of abuse. The data help identify characteristics of the abuse that facilitate the early onset of SIB among male victims of CSA.
This study examined a theory constructed to describe the offense process of women who sexually offend—the Descriptive Model of Female Sexual Offending (DMFSO). In particular, this report sets out to establish whether the original three pathways (or offending styles) identified within United Kingdom convicted female sexual offenders and described within the DMFSO (i.e., Explicit-Approach, Directed-Avoidant, Implicit-Disorganized) were applicable to a small sample (N = 36) of North American women convicted of sexual offending. Two independent raters examined the offense narratives of the sample and—using the DMFSO—coded each script according to whether it fitted one of the three original pathways. Results suggested that the three existing pathways of the DMFSO represented a reasonable description of offense pathways for a sample of North American women convicted of sexual offending. No new pathways were identified. A new "Offense Pathway Checklist" devised to aid raters’ decision making is described and future research and treatment implications explored.
Suicidality and self-harm behaviors among sex offenders remain underreported in the clinical literature and are often misunderstood in this complex population. The present study aims to identify rates of suicide attempts and self-injurious behaviors in a sample of 1,184 psychiatric inpatients, 462 of whom are sexual offenders. Between-group comparisons revealed significant differences in history of suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors, with sexual offenders evidencing greater rates of both. Significant psychiatric correlates of suicide attempts and self-harm behaviors among sex offenders varied by group and included a variety of psychiatric symptom presentations. These are compared with the general literature on suicide risk and the sex offender population. Implications for treatment of these behaviors in a sex offender population are discussed.
The present study aimed to revise the Vermont Assessment of Sex Offender Risk (VASOR) Reoffense Risk Scale, a commonly used sex offender risk assessment tool. The revised tool was named the VASOR-2. Among models tested to revise the scale, a logistic regression model showed the best balance between simplicity of use, goodness of fit, and internal validity (as tested with K-10 cross-validation), and maximized predictive accuracy. Predictive accuracy was tested using four meta-analytically combined data sets drawn from Canada and Vermont (N = 1,581). At 5-year fixed follow-up, the predictive accuracy for sexual recidivism for VASOR-2 (AUC = .74) was similar to the VASOR (AUC = .71). The findings show the VASOR-2 is well calibrated with observed recidivism rates for all but the highest risk sex offenders. The instrument showed good interrater reliability (ICC = .88). An advantage of the VASOR-2 is that it has fewer items and simpler scoring instructions than the VASOR. Norms are presented for a contemporary, nonselected, routine sample of Vermont sex offenders (n = 887).
The presumed dangers presented by sex offenders who have absconded from authorities have played a prominent role in public discourse surrounding state and federal sex offender management policy. The current study is the first to empirically investigate the characteristics of absconded sex offenders and explore how this group compares to other groups of sex offenders. Utilizing data from the Florida sex offender registry (N = 23,557), this exploratory study compares the characteristics and risk factors of absconders with those of compliant and noncompliant (nonabsconding) registrants as well as with those with convictions for failure to register (FTR). Absconders, as a group, were less likely than compliant registrants to be listed as predators, and less likely than both compliants and noncompliants to have a minor victim or to be a repeat sex offender. Absconders were also least likely to have a prior FTR conviction, but those with a previous FTR conviction were more likely to abscond from registration than probation. The findings fail to support the hypothesis that fugitive sex offenders are more sexually dangerous (especially to children), and suggest a multitude of explanations for absconding.
Typically, neuropsychological studies of sex offenders have grouped together different types of individuals and different types of measures. This is why results have tended to be nonspecific and divergent across studies. Against this background, the authors undertook a review of the literature regarding the neuropsychology of sex offenders, taking into account subgroups based on criminological theories. They also conducted a meta-analysis of the data to demonstrate the cognitive heterogeneity of sex offenders statistically. Their main objective was to test the hypothesis to the effect that the neuropsychological deficits of sex offenders are not broad and generalized compared with specific subgroups of participants based on specific measures. In all, 23 neuropsychological studies reporting data on 1,756 participants were taken into consideration. As expected, a highly significant, broad, and heterogeneous overall effect size was found. Taking subgroups of participants and specific cognitive measures into account significantly improved homogeneity. Sex offenders against children tended to obtain lower scores than did sex offenders against adults on higher order executive functions, whereas sex offenders against adults tended to obtain results similar to those of non-sex offenders, with lower scores in verbal fluency and inhibition. However, it is concluded that neuropsychological data on sex offenders are still too scarce to confirm these trends or to test more precise hypotheses. For greater clinical relevance, future neuropsychological studies should consider specific subgroups of participants and measures to verify the presence of different cognitive profiles.
To aid risk assessment, management, and treatment planning it is essential to assess child sexual abusers’ deviant sexual interests (DSI) and preferences (DSP) for sex with children. However, measurement of DSI/DSP is fraught with psychometric problems. In consequence, research interest has shifted to latency-based indirect measures as a measurement approach to complement self-report and physiological assessment. Utilizing the Explicit and Implicit Sexual Interest Profile (EISIP)—a multimethod approach consisting of self-report, viewing time, and Implicit Association Test (IAT) DSI/DSP measures—we replicated phallometric DSI/DSP differences between child sexual abuser subgroups in a sample of intrafamilial, extrafamilial, and child pornography offenders. DSI/DSP was associated with recidivism risk, offense-behavioral measures of pedophilic interest, and sexual fantasizing. It also negatively correlated with antisociality. Distinguishing between child sexual abuser subtypes and being related to recidivism risk, the EISIP is a useful tool for sexual offender assessments.
The literature on Multiple Perpetrator Rape (MPR) is scant; however, a significant proportion of sexual offending involves multiple perpetrators. In addition to the need for research with apprehended offenders of MPR, there is also a need to conduct research with members of the general public. Recent advances in the forensic literature have led to the development of self-report proclivity scales. These scales have enabled researchers to conduct evaluative studies sampling from members of the general public who may be perpetrators of sexual offenses and have remained undetected, or at highest risk of engaging in sexual offending. The current study describes the development and preliminary validation of the Multiple-Perpetrator Rape Interest Scale (M-PRIS), a vignette-based measure assessing community males’ sexual arousal to MPR, behavioral propensity toward MPR and enjoyment of MPR. The findings show that the M-PRIS is a reliable measure of community males’ sexual interest in MPR with high internal reliability and temporal stability. In a sample of university males we found that a large proportion (66%) did not emphatically reject an interest in MPR. We also found that rape-supportive cognitive distortions, antisocial attitudes, and high-risk sexual fantasies were predictors of sexual interest in MPR. We discuss these findings and the implications for further research employing proclivity measures referencing theory development and clinical practice.
The good lives model (GLM) has become an increasingly popular theoretical framework underpinning sex offender treatment programs, and preliminary research suggests that the GLM may enhance the efficacy of programs that adhere to the Risk, Need, and Responsivity (RNR) principles. However, this potential rests on the appropriate operationalization of the GLM in practice. Operationalized appropriately, the GLM aims to facilitate risk reduction alongside equipping clients with the tools to live personally meaningful and fulfilling lives. However, misguided operationalization of the GLM could result in ineffective treatment and ultimately higher rates of reoffending. This article presents findings from a multisite study exploring how the GLM has been operationalized and the degree to which the GLM has been integrated in a sample of 13 North American treatment programs. A comprehensive coding protocol was developed that included items related to program aims and client induction/orientation, assessment, intervention planning, intervention content, and intervention delivery. Each site was visited and items were rated through a review of program documentation, interviews with program directors/managers, and observations of treatment groups. Findings from inductive (how the GLM was operationalized) and deductive (the extent to which the GLM was integrated) analyses are presented and GLM consistent and inconsistent practices are highlighted. The article concludes with suggestions for ways in which program responsiveness to the GLM could be enhanced.
This study reviewed the records of 198 juveniles who were committed to secured custody after being adjudicated delinquent for a sexually violent offense that qualified them for possible commitment under a Sexually Violent Person’s (SVP) civil commitment law. For an individual to be committed, the statute requires that the individual have a qualifying mental disorder and is "likely," to commit a future act of sexual violence. Each youth was screened by at least two expert examiners in a two-step process. Fifty-four of the youth were found to meet the commitment criteria in an initial examination and were subject to an SVP petition. The remaining 144 were screened out. Subsequent criminal charges were collected over a 4.97-year mean follow-up. The results showed that the prevalence rates for general sexual offending and felony sexual offending did not differ between youth who were screened out and those who were subject to a petition. Among petitioned youth, 11.76% were charged with a new sexual offense including 9.80% who were charged with a felony sexual assault. By comparison, 17.36% of the youth that were screened out were charged with a sexual offense including 13.19% who were charged with a felony sexual assault, a nonsignificant difference.
The routine activities of a sample of 147 incarcerated sexual offenders were studied. During interviews conducted between 1994 and 2000 in a province of Canada, data were collected on the participants’ time involvement in a variety of activities in the weeks preceding their index sexual offense(s). Using latent profile analysis, a typology of lifestyles of sexual offenders was created. Five distinct profiles were identified. The inactive loner was characterized by little time involvement with their romantic partners and social activities. The social traveler spent the highest time driving and reported the highest number of friends. The single walker reported the highest amount of time walking around. The partyers’ lifestyle was centered around alcohol and drugs. Finally, offenders from the familial homebody profile spent most of their time at home. Differences between profiles were investigated with regard to characteristics of index sexual offense.
This study compared changes in psychometric scores over treatment for a sample of convicted male sexual offenders who had attended a traditional relapse prevention (RP) program in the community, to those who had attended a revised version of the program based on the good lives (GL) model of offender rehabilitation. The sample consisted of a total of 601 offenders either serving sentences in the community or on probation in the community following release from custody. The sample attended one of two programs operating in the community, both of which delivered an RP and GL version of the program. The groups were compared on their level of psychometric change over treatment on individual measures, on measures grouped by dynamic risk domain, and on overall psychometric change, using a variety of analyses, including examination of clinically significant change. There were no differences in amount of change over treatment or, for those deemed as requiring change, clinically significant change, by program approach, for the majority of the measures examined. However, chi-square analyses indicated that there was an association between attending the GL version of the programs and sustaining a functional score across a number of measures of pro-offending attitudes and across measures of socioaffective functioning, posttreatment. In addition, achieving an overall "treated profile" on the psychometrics posttreatment was associated with attendance on the GL versions of the community programs, although the GL starters were less dysfunctional than the RP starters. Attrition rates were low for both the RP and GL programs, and there was no difference in rates between the two.
Retrospective data from 2,034 female participants, provided anonymously using a computer-assisted self-interview, were used to identify risk factors for father–daughter incest (FDI). A total of 51 participants had reported having experienced FDI. The risk factors identified within the nuclear family by the multiple logistic regression analysis included the following: (a) Having parents whose relationship included verbal or physical fighting or brutality increased the likelihood of FDI by approximately 5 times; (b) families accepting father–daughter nudity as measured by a scale with values ranging from 0 to 4 increased the likelihood of FDI by approximately 2 times for each unit value increase of 1 above 0; (c) demonstrating maternal affection protected against FDI. The likelihood of being a victim of FDI was highest if the participant’s mother never kissed or hugged her; it decreased by 0.44 for a 1-unit increase in affection and by 0.19 times for a 2-unit increase; and (d) being in homes headed by single-parent mothers or where divorce or death of the father had resulted in a man other than the biological father living in the home increased the risk of FDI by approximately 3.2 times. The results were consistent with the idea that FDI in many families was the cumulative result of a circular pattern of interactions, a finding that has implications for treatment of the perpetrator, the victim, and the families. The data also suggested it may be possible to design an information program for parents that will result in reducing the risk of FDI in families implementing the program’s recommendations.
The implicit assessment of pedophilic sexual interest through viewing-time methods necessitates visual stimuli. There are grave ethical and legal concerns against using pictures of real children, however. The present report is a summary of findings on a new set of 108 computer-generated stimuli. The images vary in terms of gender (female/male), explicitness (naked/clothed), and physical maturity (prepubescent, pubescent, and adult) of the persons depicted. A series of three studies tested the internal and external validity of the picture set. Studies 1 and 2 yielded good-to-high estimates of observer agreement with regard to stimulus maturity levels by two methods (categorization and paired comparison). Study 3 extended these findings with regard to judgments made by convicted child sexual offenders.
This study examined whether three measures of the spatial distribution of registered sex offenders (RSOs) in September 2010 were associated with differences in county-level rates of recidivistic sex crime arrests over the following year in 52 upstate New York counties. Results indicate that RSO clustering was positively associated with modest increases of recidivistic sex crime arrest rates, but results were significant only for adult victim sex crimes and only for certain types of RSO clustering. Under no circumstances, however, was increased RSO clustering associated with decreased rates of recidivistic sex crime arrests. The results of this study, combined with the limited prior research, suggest that RSO clustering has only a limited association with recidivistic sex crime arrest rates. This implies that housing policies such as residence restrictions may be useful in mitigating risk from some types of recidivistic sex crimes only to the extent that they result in more equitable distributions of RSOs within a county.
The overwhelming number of male victims of clergy sexual abuse led to assumptions regarding sexual preference of clergy offenders. The present study examined 9,540 records (incidents) of alleged cleric sexual abuse in the United States between 1950 and 1999 to explore situational factors of the abuse by victim gender. No evidence was found to suggest that male victims were purposefully targeted more than female victims; rather, the abuse appeared to be more a function of opportunity. These findings support a situational framework of sexual abuse for the majority of clergy abuse and the assertion that abuse in church can be understood as not a crisis regarding homosexuality but as a social problem that must be examined in its context.
Given the widespread use of empirical actuarial risk tools in corrections and forensic mental health, it is important that evaluators and decision makers understand how scores relate to recidivism risk. In the current study, we found strong evidence for a relative risk interpretation of Static-99R scores using 8 samples from Canada, United Kingdom, and Western Europe (N = 4,037 sex offenders). Each increase in Static-99R score was associated with a stable and consistent increase in relative risk (as measured by an odds ratio or hazard ratio of approximately 1.4). Hazard ratios from Cox regression were used to calculate risk ratios that can be reported for Static-99R. We recommend that evaluators consider risk ratios as a useful, nonarbitrary metric for quantifying and communicating risk information. To avoid misinterpretation, however, risk ratios should be presented with recidivism base rates.
Cases of child sexual abuse (CSA) referred to the District Attorney (DA) are not necessarily accepted for prosecution. Two pilot studies sought to investigate whether there were gender differences in whether cases of CSA referred to the DA’s office were accepted by the DA and, if they existed, what might account for gender differences in decisions to accept cases and file charges. The results of the first study indicated that cases involving male victims were significantly less likely to be accepted for prosecution than cases involving female victims. Comparisons of acceptance rates were based on expected frequencies given CSA prevalence rates by gender in the literature and on the proportion of males and females seen at a Child Abuse Assessment Center (CAAC) from where the DA referrals were obtained. The second study assessed both disclosure-related variables (assessed by content analyses of disclosures made at a CAAC) and abuse-related variables (that occurred at or near the time of the abuse) that might explain these differences. Few variables were found to significantly differentiate males’ and females’ cases; these were the relationship of the child to the perpetrator, whether the child was offended by a juvenile, whether the child told someone of the abuse, pornography exposure, whether the child displayed concerning behaviors, and whether the child was questioned about possible abuse. Implications of these results are discussed.
Studies have produced equivocal findings regarding whether sex offenders are stable in their choice of victims. Indeed, it remains unclear whether a sex offender’s subsequent victims are typically of the same gender, age range, and victim–perpetrator relationship as that of the initial victim. Although some differences may be attributed to methodological disparities, others are not. This study sought to clarify this question by examining the tendency of sex offenders to switch from one type of victim to another, both within an index offense and across offenses and all victims. Archival records of 789 incarcerated sex offenders were examined. Of those offenders who had multiple victims at the index offense (n = 279), 13% had victims of both genders, 14% had victims in different age categories (child, adolescent, and adult), and 13% had varying relationships with the victims (i.e., family member, acquaintance, or stranger). When the records of those with past sexual convictions were examined (n = 208), 20% of offenders had a prior victim of a different gender; 40% crossed over across age categories, and 48% of the repeat offenders had varying relationships with the victim across convictions. Offenders who had both male and female victims and offenders who had victims of varied relationship status across crimes had higher Static-99 risk scores than offenders who were more stable with regard to victim selection. These findings are compared to those of previous studies, focusing on how these results add clarity to a previous literature whose conclusions were challenged by the use of disparate sampling and research methodologies.
Previous studies found associations between children and sex in child sex offenders (CSOs) using the Implicit Association Test (IAT). We used a modification of this task, the Single Category–Implicit Association Test (SC-IAT) to unravel child-sex associations in CSOs. Using the SC-IAT, we were able to test whether CSOs indeed hold stronger child-sex associations relative to adult-sex associations, compared to adult sex offenders and nonoffenders. Furthermore, we examined whether contact CSOs differed from noncontact CSOs in their child-sex associations. The hypothesis that CSOs would have stronger child-sex associations, relative to their adult-sex associations, than adult sex offenders and nonoffenders was confirmed. No difference between contact CSOs and noncontact CSOs was found. Although the Sex SC-IAT was able to distinguish CSOs from nonoffenders, the sensitivity and specificity of the test was poor (AUC of .65) and needs refinement. The results of this study support the existence of a child-sex association as a distinctive characteristic of CSOs. These findings are discussed in the context of theories on deviant cognitions in CSOs and risk for sexual offending.