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Adolescent Sex Offenders

Anna C. Salter, Ph.D.

Overview of adolescent crime Whats sexually deviant Sibling abuse Taproots of sexual offending Polygraph and sexual offending What works? Risk assessment


Adult Sex Offenders & Age of Onset

1/3 to 1/2 began offending In adolescence
(Prentky et al., 2000)

Adolescents & Violent/Sexual Crime

Age of Onset of Serious Violence

85% of those involved in serious violence by age 27 report that their 1st act occurred between 12 & 20 Peak age of onset 16

Almost no serious violence starts < age 10 & > age 23 (Prentky 2002)

Two Onset Trajectories

Childhood Onset strong link between childhood factors and persistent violence into adulthood Juvenile Onset: most violence begins in adolescence, ends with the transition into adulthood (Prentky, 2002)

Sex Offense Recidivism

Continue into adulthood 9-14% (Nisbet et al., 2004; Rasmussen, 1999)

Onset of Sexual Offending

Incarcerated adolescents Onset < 12 Onset> 12 Offending < and > age 12 N 48 130 65

Seriousness & complexity of sexual acts more severe for the continuous offenders (Burton, 2000)

Juvenile Sex Offenders: Age of Onset

Begin Offending Under Age 12 46%
(Burton, 2000)

Chronic Juvenile Offenders

% of Offenders 6.3% 7.5% % of Crime 52% 61% (Wolfgangs 1958)

Juvenile Crime
Offenders 8% Crimes 70%

(Beuhring, 2002; Howell, 1995; Kelley et al., 1997)

Boundaries of Developmentally Normative Sexual Behavior

Normal & Deviant Adolescent Sexual Behavior

(Adapted from Dr. Robert Prentky & Dr. William Friedrich)


Sexually explicit conversations with peers Obscenities and jokes within cultural norm Sexual innuendo, flirting and courtship Interest in erotica Solitary masturbation Hugging, kissing, holding hands Foreplay, (petting, making out, fondling) Mutual masturbation Sexual intercourse with consenting partner*

Deviant Behaviors: Level 1

High degree of sexual preoccupation and/or anxiety Frequent use of pornography or sex shows Indiscriminate sexual contact with multiple partners Sexually aggressive remarks/obscenities Sexual graffiti (especially sexually aggressive images) Embarrassment of others with sexual remarks or innuendo Violation of others body space Pulling skirts up / pants down Peeping, exposing or frottage with known agemates Obscene gestures or mooning

Deviant Level 1

Red flags - may signal an abnormally high degree of sexual preoccupation and/or sexually aggressive impulses

Some form of intervention may be desirable

Deviant Behaviors: Level 2

Compulsive masturbation Degradation/humiliation of self or others with sexual overtones Attempting to expose others genitals Chronic preoccupation with sexually aggressive pornography Sexually explicit conversation with young children Sexualized touching without permission
(grabbing, goosing)

Sexually explicit threats (verbal or written) Obscene phone calls

Deviant Level 2

Indicate a high degree of sexual preoccupation and/or deviant sexual interests, Require intervention

Deviant Behaviors: Level 3

Genital touching without permission (e.g.


Sexual contact with significant age difference

(child molestation)

Forced sexual contact (any assault having sexual


Forced penetration (vaginal or anal) Sexual contact with animals Genital injury to others

Deviant Level 3

Victim-involved sexual assault Require intervention

Sibling Incest

Differences in Incest

Adult incest offenders: Less deviant arousal on the PPG Have fewer victims Begin offending at a later age. Juvenile sex offenders All less true Considerable cross-over incest and nonincest

Sibling vs Parental Incest

No Difference Self-abusive behaviors Physical problems Sexual problems Level of guilt Shame (Cole, 1990)

Adolescent Sex Offenders

N = 170 Males Mean Age = 15 (OBrien, 1991)

Sample Incest Extrafamilial Molester Nonchild offender Mixed

Average Acts 18 4 7.4 8.5 (OBrien, 1991)

Length of Abuse
> 1 Year

Incest Group


Extrafamilial Molesters
Nonchild Offenders

24% (OBrien, 1991)


Incest Extrafamilial Child

46% 28%

Nonchild Offenders 13% (OBrien, 1991)

Age of Victims
< 9 Years-Old 76% (OBrien, 1991)

Other Criminal Acts


11% 18% 26% (OBrien, 1991)



Prior Sexual Victimization


42% 40% 29%



(OBrien, 1991)

2 or More Victims

Incest Extrafamilial

53% 42% (OBrien, 1991)

Taproots of Sexual Offending

Deviant Arousal or Criminal Behavior?

Deviant Arousal and Adolescent Sex offenders

Most likely found among child molesters Greater fluidity of offense patterns Less connection between arousal & offense histories (Hunter et al., 1994)

Adolescent Sex Offenders: Sexual vs. General Recidivism

FU up to 6 years Recidivate 7.5 to 14

Sexual General

Criminal 40 to 60 (Langstrom & Grann, 2000)

Deviant Arousal or Antisocial

4 variables correctly classified 77% reoffenders Involvement with delinquent peers Crimes against persons Attitudes towards sexual assault Family normlessness (Ageton, 1983)

Deviant Arousal or Antisocial

Involvement with delinquent peers Correctly classified 76% reoffenders
(Ageton, 1983)

Denial in Adolescent Sex Offenders

N = 204 males Community-based treatment Tx Compliance Denial (%) None Some Complete No 27 49 71 Yes 73 52 29 (Hunter & Figuerdo,1999)

Polygraph and Adolescent Sex Offenders

Child Offenses 60 51

1.52 27.18

1.87 20.65

2.85 76.59

(Emerick & Dutton, 1993)

Polygraph and Adolescent Sex Offenders

Intake Pornography Voyeurism Rape Fetish Polygraph

27% 78% 29 49 15 29 12 24 (Emerick & Dutton, 1997)

What Works?

Type of Treatment & Young Offenders

0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 Non Behavioral Cognitive Behavioral

Dowden & Andrews, 1999

Targeting Criminogenic Needs

Criminogenic Needs
Criminogenic Antisocial Attitudes Non Criminogenic Self-Esteem Anxiety Depression

Antisocial Friends
Substance Abuse Impulsivity

Targeting Criminogenic Needs

0.35 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 -0.05 Targets 1 - 3 Noncriminogen ic Needs Targets 4 - 6 Criminogenic Needs

Gendreau, French & Taylor, 2002

Self Esteem Vs. Criminogenic Needs

0.4 0.35 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 -0.05 -0.1

Self Esteem Criminogenic Needs

Cost of Recidivism

To Taxpayers

To Victims

Computing Cost of Recidivism


Investigation Adjudication Corrections Medical Care of Victims Mental Health Care of Victims Property Damage Reduced Future Earnings (Aos, 1999)

Computing Victim Cost of Recidivism


Care Mental Health Care Property Damage Reduced Future Earnings Pain and Suffering Loss of Life (Aos, 1999)

Cost/Benefit of Adolescent Treatment Programs

Program Taxpayers Alone Taxpayers & Victims

ARP Multi-Systemic Functional Fam Multi Tx Foster

$19.57 8.38 6.85 14.07

$31.40 13.45 10.99 22.58

Cost/Benefit of Adolescent Treatment Programs

Program Cost/ Effect Participant Size

Aggression Replacement Training Multi-Sys Family Tx




-.68 (Aos, 1999)

What Does It Take to Break Even

Depends on the Cost Percent Reduction to Break Even Aggression Replacement Training


Multi-Systemic Family Therapy


Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment: Impact of Working with Offenders

N = 200 young offenders of all types Sentence = 2 years Data: Presentence Current offense Previous convictions One meeting (Williams, unpublished)

Risk Assessment: Impact of Working with Offenders

Data: Original information Experience of working with offenders for previous years (Williams, unpublished)

Risk Assessment: Impact of Working with Offenders


1st Evaluation Moderate correlation with recidivism

2nd Evaluation No outcome with recidivism (Williams, unpublished)

Doug Epperson

Item 1 Number of Adjudications for Sexual Offenses, including the Current


Two1 Three.2
Four or more.3

Number of Adjudications & Recidivism

No. 1 2 3 4+ N Sex Recidivism

452 6.2% 118 26.3% 37 35.1% 29 41.4 (Epperson, 2005)

Item 2 Number of Different Victims in Charged Sex Offenses, Including Current


Two..1 Three or more 2

Number of Victims
No. 1 2 3+ N Recidivism 442 6.8% 116 24.1% 78 33.3% (Epperson, 2005)

Utah development Sample

02 34 57 8 11 12+ Percent Juvenile Sexual Recidivism 1.0% 6.6% 24.3% 43.1% 81.8%

Genetic Contribution to Violent Behavior

Variance in antisocial behavior Due to genetic factors
( Beaver, 2008; Mason & Frick, 1994; Miles & Carey, 1997; Rhee & Wald, 2002)

Interaction of Genes and Environment

Males with low MAOA activity allele (specific gene) + Childhood maltreatment Increased antisocial behavior (Beaver, 2008)

Genetic Contribution to Violent Behavior

Variance in antisocial behavior Due to genetic factors
( Beaver, 2008; Mason & Frick, 1994; Miles & Carey, 1997; Rhee & Wald, 2002)

Genetics & Environment Interactive

(Rowe, 2002; Rutter, 2006; Walsh, 2002)

Violence Delinquency Scale

How many times past 12 months hurt someone badly enough to require medical attention Used a weapon to get something from someone

Took part in a group fight

(Beaver, 2008)

Violent Adolescents
3 samples Pretrial Assessment Institutional Assessment Assessment Before Release (Lodewijks et al., 2010)

Protective Factors Adolescent Violent Offenders

Prosocial involvement Strong social support Strong attachments & bonds Positive attitude towards intervention and authority Strong commitment to school & work Resilient personality (Lodewijks et al., 2010)

Impact of Protective Factors

0 1 or more

Pretrial Assessment
High risk Low risk 40% 12 6% 6

(Lodewijks et al., 2010)

Impact of Protective Factors

Institutional Assessment 0 High risk 86 Low risk 44 Pre-Release High risk Low risk 1 or more 54 13

78 33 38 3 (Lodewijks et al., 2010)

Which Factors?

Strong social support Strong attachments to prosocial adults