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'Corrective' sex education may make sexual offenders more dangerous
Date:10/16/2007

While it is commonly thought that men with low IQs sexually offend because of a lack of knowledge or sexual deviance, new research has found the men may sexually offend because of their exposure to corrective sex education previously taken.

A team of North American researchers compared two samples of individuals with and without an intellectual disability and a history of sexual offence and found that sexual offenders with intellectual disability who had committed a serious sexual offence, such as rape or pedophilia, actually demonstrated a greater sexual knowledge than non-offenders. This increased sexual knowledge may be from "corrective" sex education that the offender was given in the past. It can then be concluded that the higher level of knowledge of those who had committed some form of sexual offence was the direct result of their exposure to formal or informal sex education.

The data indicates that there may be two categories of persons with intellectual disabilities that sexually offend: Individuals who are knowledgeable and who offend in more serious ways and Individuals who appear to have a lack of sexual knowledge and whose offence may be the result of that lack of knowledge. The latter is termed counterfeit deviance.

"We simply cannot treat all sex offenders as 'counterfeit deviant' and excuse their behavior as a result of inadequate knowledge," says Shelley Watson, a graduate student from the University of Alberta. "We need to establish whether sex education is needed as an element of a comprehensive treatment package."

As supported in this study, people with intellectual disability were also found to be typically very conservative when it came to sexual attitudes. However, the researchers found that serious sex offenders actually expressed much more liberal attitudes when it came to sex, including same-sex relationships, than sex offenders who only committed sexual inappropriate behaviors, such as public masturbation or inappropriate touching.

"This study provides support for the need to assess sexual knowledge, sexual attitudes and prior sex education when an individual commits a sexual offence," says Watson. "Only a careful diagnosis will reveal whether the offence is motivated by sexual urges and fantasies consistent with serious sexual offence or by other factors."


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Contact: Kris Connor
kris.connor@ualberta.ca
780-492-9214
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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