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

ocial 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.

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Source:Eurekalert

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