Juvenile Sex Offenders:
The subject of juvenile sex offenders has traditionally been a hush hush topic, but the rising incidents of sexual crimes by juveniles against juveniles have forced this issue to be addressed. There were twenty thousand sexual offenses committed by adolescents that were reported to the FBI in 1981. The statistics have been growing since then. Currently it is estimated that juveniles account for up to one- fifth of the rapes and one half of the cases of child molestation committed in the United States each year. Abel and his coauthors (1984) believe that the average adolescent sex offender will commit 380 sex crimes in the course of his life. Davis and Leitenberg (1987) published data indicating that 50 percent of adult sex offenders began their offending careers during their adolescence. For the purpose of this paper I will define juvenile sex offenders as males between the ages of 8 and 15. I feel that those who have reached there sixteenth birthday should be considered adults. As defined by the National Adolescents Perpetrator Network (Scavo and Buchanan, 1989, p60) “an adolescent/juvenile sex offender is a “youth” ranging from puberty to the age of legal majority who commits any sexual interaction with a person of any age against the victim’s will without consent, or in an aggressive, exploitive, or threatening manner”. In my paper I will use the term adolescent and juvenile interchangeably. I believe the offender’s family environment and background are relevant factors that influence a juvenile’s behavior. Adolescents who experienced sexual abuse in the home quickly move from being a victim to becoming an offender. This finding fits with the social theory of Differential Association by Sutherland, whose theory suggests that crime is learned though interaction in small personal groups. Literature Review
When it comes to identifying the typical juvenile sex offender “typical” does not exist. There is no typical profile of the juvenile sex offender, just as there is no simple typical profile for the adult sex offender. In my research I have tried to identify general characteristics most juvenile sex offenders have. The ages of juvenile sex offenders vary, but most tend to be between the ages of 14 and 15. In regards to the socio-economical status of juvenile sex offenders, generally it does not appear different from their otherwise delinquent peers. As with delinquents in general, sexually abusive delinquents are unlikely to be intellectually bright or verbally articulate (Hughughi & Lechardion 1996). They are likely to have significant difficulties in school and they are usually poor achievers (Fehrenbach et al 1986, Kahn and Chambers 1991, Sauders and Awad 1988). Juvenile sex offenders tend to be anti- social. These youths are often described as “loners” who lack the social skills necessary to develop meaningful relationships. They tend to be more shy, timid and withdrawn than other delinquents who commit non-sexual crimes. Juvenile sex offenders are more likely as a group to have less intimate relationships and fewer friends, particular fewer female friends, only 50 % of juvenile sex offenders had girlfriend compared with 80 % of “normal” delinquents (Becker et al 1991). As a result of their own isolation from their own peer group, juvenile child molesters may turn to younger children for interactions they perceive as social, emotional safer and easier to control. Researchers have found it useful to distinguish the forms of abuse or offending: (1) Non-contact abuse, which includes exhibitionism, that is exposing oneself indecently, voyeurism and obscene phone calls; (2) Sexual molestation, which covers the full range of abusive acts against a child; (3) Sexual assault, which covers rape or attempted rape of a peer or adult, must often females (Becker et, al 1993, Murphy et al 1992). As stated before there is a general agreement that by the time an...
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