Navigation Links
New study challenges stereotypes of adolescent sex offenders
Date:7/19/2010

WASHINGTON Adolescent sex offenders are often stereotyped and treated as socially inept, but new research negates this image, finding that they are more likely to be characterized by atypical sexual interests -- such as desire for prepubescent children, coercive sex with peers and adults, and exposing their genitals to strangers. Adolescent sex offenders are also more likely to have a history of sexual abuse themselves, been exposed to sexual violence in their families, and experienced early exposure to sex or pornography.

"If you walked into a typical group treatment for adolescent sex offenders, you might notice a lot of focus on social skills, like how to approach a girl, how to deal with conflict and understanding non-verbal communication," said Michael C. Seto, PhD, lead author of the study. "Our research suggests that social skills training is not what young sex offenders need most in order to be rehabilitated. Discussing sexuality -- early exposure to sex or pornography, sexual fantasies, and sexual arousal -- would likely get us closer to understanding why the offenses were committed and prevent similar ones from being committed again."

Seto, of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, and Martin Lalumiere, PhD, of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, conducted a meta-analysis of 59 independent studies comparing a total of 3,855 male adolescent sex offenders with 13,393 male adolescent non-sex offenders between ages 12 and 18. Their research is published in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association.

Social incompetence is generally viewed as a typical characteristic of adolescent sex offenders -- a belief that influences treatment programs that emphasize teaching appropriate social skills. However, Seto's and Lalumiere's study found no significant difference between adolescent sex offenders and adolescent non-sex offenders in terms of social competence or social skills. This indicates that social incompetence does not help explain why some adolescents commit sex crimes rather than other kinds of crimes, and calls into question the prominent role that social skills training often plays in rehabilitation programs, they said. Other factors that are frequently cited as explanations for sexual offending but that were not supported in the study were family problems, including parent-child relationships; attitudes and beliefs about women or sexual offending; and whether the individual has had conventional sexual experiences.

The researchers found that atypical sexual interests seemed to be an important motivation for some adolescents who commit sexual offenses. Adolescent sex offenders were found to be more likely to have atypical sexual interests than other adolescent offenders. Seto suggests that discussions of sexuality need to happen more often and more openly in order to facilitate the identification of those who are at risk to become sex offenders and to facilitate their treatment. This shift can begin with more research about sexuality and sexual offenders.

"Researchers in the adolescent sex offender field have focused on sexual abuse history (more than half of the studies we reviewed reported data on this variable) but have paid relatively little attention to other aspects of sexuality, focusing instead on nonsexual factors (e.g., parent-child attachment, social skills deficits, psychopathology)," the authors wrote. "Our results suggest promising directions for research on the roles of exposure to sexual violence, exposure to sex or pornography more generally and atypical sexual interests."

While social skills were not a significant determinant of adolescent sexual offending, social isolation was an important factor. Seto and Lalumiere found that adolescent sex offenders had more feelings of social isolation and withdrawal than adolescent non-sex offenders.

"I speculate that feelings of social isolation among adolescent sex offenders come as a result of social norms and stigma that make it difficult to talk about sexual abuse history or sexual urges or fantasies that are outside of what is considered normal," Seto said. "If adolescents think they cannot talk about what they are thinking or feeling, then they cannot seek help and guidance. Encouraging more open dialogue about sexuality between young people and their parents, teachers and health care workers could be a key element in preventing adolescents from committing sexual offenses."

Although Seto and Lalumiere emphasized that most adolescents who are sexually abused do not become sex offenders, the study reconfirmed that there is some relationship between a history of sexual abuse and sexual offending. The data suggest that sexual abuse is associated with the likelihood that someone will commit a sexual offense for the first time, but they do not predict who is more likely to sexually reoffend once identified. This suggests that child abuse prevention activities, in addition to the important role of protecting children from abuse, can help prevent adolescent sexual offending.


'/>"/>

Contact: Public Affairs
public.affairs@apa.org
202-336-5700
American Psychological Association
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Despite Treatment, Employees with Depression Generate Higher Absentee Costs, According to Thomson Reuters Study
2. American Council on Exercise (ACE) Study Reveals Kettlebells Provide Powerful Workout in Short Amount of Time
3. TV drama can be more persuasive than news program, study finds
4. Study carried out into biological risks of eating reptiles
5. Neuroimaging study may pave way for effective Alzheimers treatments
6. Study finds racial gaps continue in heart disease awareness
7. Luth Researchs IndicatorEDG(TM) Study Finds Americans Hopes of Achieving Their Dreams Are Fading
8. First blinded study of venous insufficiency prevalence in MS shows promising results
9. Soothing infants with food focus of childhood obesity study
10. People with anxiety disorder less able to regulate response to negative emotions, study shows
11. American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report: Study Finds Racial Gaps Continue in Heart Disease Awareness, Low Knowledge of Heart Attack Warning Signs Among Women
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Donor Network West, the organ ... Nevada, announced a partnership with San Ramon Regional Medical Center. Under the collaboration, the ... as a way to accommodate a more certain time frame for donor families for ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Mediaplanet today ... , The print component of “Revolutionizing Cancer Care” is distributed within the February ... and Seattle, with a circulation of approximately 250,000 copies and an estimated readership ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... ... US Sport Camps is pleased to announce the addition of junior golf ... the host site and directing the camps is PGA Professional and 2008 Iowa State ... recent years around Des Moines and are fortunate to have such a well-respected instructor ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... 2016 , ... The aging population and longer life spans ... With that, says Patrick Loughney, president of Longtree & Associates, LLC ... care environments. His company, which offers prep courses and workshops in long term ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... With the exception of restorative dentistry, to date there has ... With the recent approval by the FDA, there is a now a new protocol in ... SDF is very simple and quick to apply. The application is as simple as ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... , Ungarn, February 12, 2016 ... das sich auf den ungedeckten medizinischen Bedarf ... positive Ergebnisse seines klinischen Forschungsprogramms bekannt. Das ... beschäftigt, ergab Verbesserungen ihrer respiratorischen Funktionen und ... ltd , ein Medizintechnikunternehmen, das sich auf ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 11, 2016 PRO-DEX, INC. (NasdaqCM: ... quarter ended December 31, 2015. The Company also filed its ... fiscal year 2016 with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. ... December 31, 2015 --> --> ... 2015 increased $2.6 million, or 95%, to $5.4 million from ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016   Health 2.0 , the ... health technologies, announced today " 10 Year Global Retrospective ... tech over the past ten years.   ... decade, Health 2.0 has served as the preeminent thought-leader ... with thousands of technologies, companies, innovators, and patient-activists through ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: