Who are adolescent sex offenders? In its basic and most simple form adolescent sex offenders could be defined as any juvenile male or female, approximately between the ages of 12 and 17 years of age who commit any sexual act with another person, unlawfully against that persons will, regardless of age limit. Research has suggested that adolescent sexual offenders are also embedded in multiple systems (family, peer, school) in which dysfunctional transactions are rather evident. There is also a general consensus that adolescent sexual offenders have difficulty maintaining close interpersonal relations and are isolated from their peers. Finally, a relatively high percentage of adolescent sexual offenders evidence behavioral and academic difficulties in school. Thus, as suggested by Saunders and Awad (1988), effective treatment of adolescent sexual offenders might need to consider several characteristics of the offender and of their social systems. (Borduin, 1990, p. 106).
Several researchers reported learning disorders, conduct disorders, or difficulties in school among this population of offenders. Psychiatric disorders have also been prevalent along with dysfunctional and/or one-parent households. Studies of adult sexual offenders indicate that about half of adult offenders report that their first sexual offence occurred as an adolescent, and often, offenses escalated in frequency and severity over time. These findings have led to increased efforts to identify and treat adolescents who sexually abuse and to the recognition of this group as a distinct population for study. (Veneziano, 2000, p. 364). It is imperative, therefore, to not only be aware of the characteristics of juvenile sex offenders, but also to discern between those who continue offending and those who cease offending. This research literature indicates that adolescent sexual offenders are a heterogeneous population with diverse characteristics and treatment needs.... [continues]
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