Can teens who sexually offend rehabilitate?

By Matt Bulkley | Blog Education Series

STAR Guides Wilderness - Can teens who sexually offend rehabilitate

The answer is Yes! A common fear shared by many parents of teen sex offenders is that their child is destined to a pattern of sexually harmful behaviors resulting in life-destroying consequences. This fear is fueled by the misinformation regarding sex offending behavior by teens. Statistics suggest that children and teens who complete sexual offenses treatment usually do not re-offend sexually. Adolescent sex offenders rates for sexual re-offenses (5-14%) are substantially less than their rates of recidivism for other delinquent behavior (8-58%).

Additionally, contrary to societal belief, the research regarding rehabilitation and teen sex offending behavior is actually quite promising, particularly in comparison to adult sex offenders. Consider these facts about the differences between teen sex offenders and adult sex offenders:

  • Adolescent sex offenders are considered to be more responsive to treatment than adult sex offenders and do not appear to continue re-offending into adulthood, especially when provided with appropriate treatment.
  • Adolescent sex offenders have fewer numbers of victims than adult offenders and, on average, engage in less serious and aggressive behaviors.
  • Most adolescents do not have deviant sexual arousal and/or deviant sexual fantasies that many adult sex offenders have.
  • Most adolescents are not sexual predators nor do they meet the accepted criteria for pedophilia.

This research provides a very compelling reason for youth sexual offenders to participate in and successfully complete a sexual offenses treatment program. Research suggests that most adults struggling with sexual behavior issues first began to experience problems during the adolescent years. However, most don’t seek treatment until later in life when the problems have resulted in tragic, damaging consequences to their life and the lives of others.

What type of treatment is available for teen sex offenders?

Often, sex offending behavior results in legal charges and involvement in the juvenile court system. Many states provide state-run treatment programs in the form of outpatient treatment, foster homes, proctor homes, group homes and residential treatment programs. Private sector teen sexual offenses treatment programs are less common because many youth simply slide into the state systems as a result of their legal charges. Parents need to know there are private sector options as well.

Star Guides is a private sector wilderness treatment program that specializes in assessment and treatment of teen sexual behavior problems. We share a strong belief that all youth can learn to achieve healthy sexuality. Our mission is to intervene early and help teens and young adults to manage these issues in their youth so they can enter adulthood free from sexual behavior problems.

References

Worling, J. R., & Curwin, T. (2000). Adolescent sexual offender recidivism: Success of specialized treatment and implications for risk prediction. Child Abuse and Neglect, 24, 965-982.

Schram, D. D., Milloy, C. D., & Rowe, W. E. (1991). Juvenile sex offenders: A follow-up study of reoffense behavior. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Långström, N., & Grann, M. (2000). Risk for criminal recidivism among young sex offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,15, 855-871

Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). (2000, March 11). The effective legal management of juvenile sex offender. Retrieved from http://www.atsa.com/ppjuvenile.html

Miranda, A. O., & Corcoran, C. L. (2000). Comparison of perpetration characteristics between male juvenile and adult sexual offenders: Preliminary results. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 12, 179-188.

Hunter, J. A., Goodwin, D. W., & Becker, J. V. (1994). The relationsip between phallometrically measured deviant sexual arousal and clinical characteristics in juvenile sexual offenders. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 32, 533-538.

Becker, J. V., Hunter, J. A., Stein, R. M., & Kaplan, M. S. (1989). Factors associated with erection in adolescent sex offenders. Journal of Psychopathology & Behavioral Assessment, 11, 353-363.

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

About the Author

Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment:

Call Now Button