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The Relationship Between Abuse History and Recidivism Risk in Adolescents Who Offend Sexuality

14 April 2006


Adolescents who demonstrate sexually abusive behavior create significant demands on a taxed juvenile justice system whose purpose is to assess the risks of offenders to society and to determine optimal dispositions for offenders. There has been . relatively little research specific to youthful sexual offenders. Although adolescents who offend sexually represent a small percentage of the juvenile criminal population, the impact of their offending behaviors warrants more intensive research in order to assist treatment providers, legislators, and families in preventing additional abusive behavior. With little empirical justification, major components of treatment models and conceptualizations for adolescents who offend sexually have been derived from literature pertaining to adults who offend sexually, yet studies have demonstrated that adolescents do not have as many commonalities with adults who offend sexually as previously presumed. Literature to date indicates that adolescents who offend sexually as an aggregate group have many similarities to the general population of criminally offending adolescents. It is therefore imperative to pursue further study of adolescents who offend sexually. In the current study, several risk factors are explored in regard to their ability to predict reoffense of sexual abuse. The sample consisted of 46 adolescent males from a large residential treatment facility that provides services to boys with and without sexual behavior problems. Participants were demographically similar to one another. Half of the participants (n = 23) were referred for sexual behavior problems and the other half (n = 11 23) were.referred for problems that did not include sexual behavior. Data were collected from file information and included scores from the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC), the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV), the Juvenile Sex Offender Protocol- II (J-SOAP-II), and the Program Compliance Index (pCl), an internally-developed measure within the facility. Hypotheses were tested using correlational analysis, analysis of variance, and localizing t-tests. The results indicated that sex offenders had significantly lower Denial scores than non-sex offenders and that subjects who experienced no abuse had significantly higher Denial scores than those who experienced two types of abuse (e.g., physical and sexual). In addition, offender status (e.g., sex offender and non-sex offender) and abuse history were not related to PCL: YV or PCI scores within the whole sample. However, results approached significance in favor of sex offenders when compared to non-sex offenders on PCI scores. There were no significant differences in PTS scores between the sex offender and non-sex offender groups. JSOAP-II scores were not related to types of abuse (i.e., physical or sexual), but the scores were significantly and positively associated when the no-abuse group was compared to the two types of abuse group.


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