Juvenile Sex Offenders
A new issue in the Juvenile Justice System Morgan Cotter Juvenile Justice CJ 307-A Dr. Monica Robbers Marymount University December 7, 2009 Juvenile Sex Offenders: A new issue in the Juvenile Justice System The classification and treatment of juvenile sex offenders is a unique issue in the Juvenile Justice System today. This is either because we do not have much research on the recidivism rates of repeat juvenile offenders or not all cases are reported.
In order to understand a sociopathic adolescent with sexually abusive tendencies provides a set of challenges that need special attention from the juvenile justice system. Additional attention from the Mental Health Systems are required when discussing the characteristics of the typical offender, the risk factors for juvenile sex offending and the treatment and intervention programs that are being used to prevent juvenile sexual recidivism. Characteristics of a typical juvenile sex offender:
Juvenile Sex Offenders Essay Example
A debate has risen over whether or not juvenile sexual offenders evoke unique characteristics distinctive from non-sexual juvenile sexual offenders (Bonomo, 2004). Some differences between a juvenile sex offender and non-sexual delinquents are that non-sexual delinquents are more socially introverted, more likely to engage in hostility, and are prone to be resentful (Bonomo, 2004). Juvenile sex offenders often happen to have higher levels of anxiety and are more prone to social isolation. Another way to investigate the characteristics of a typical juvenile sex offender is to administer an assessment.
In the research article “Offense Related Characteristics and Psychosexual Development of Juvenile Sex Offenders” they used the Global Assessment Instrument for Juvenile Sex Offenders (GALJSO) to determine the psychosexual development of the offenders. The GALJSO is used to identify, investigate, and predict the validity of a juvenile sex offender to re-offend or harm another again. The study was broken down into three different sub categories: 1. Child Molesters who abused children who were at least four more years younger than themselves. 2.
Solo Peer Offenders who assaulted peers or older persons on their own. 3. Group Offenders who assaulted peers or older persons in a group consisting of two or more people (Doreleijers, 2009). The results of the study concluded that amongst the three sub categories, the Child Molesters showed the most concern in relation to domain offense. This may have to do with the way they developed as a child. If has been found that children who have been molested run the risk of becoming molesters themselves (Bijleveld 2008, p. 24). Those who have not been molested still show family issues as children.
The study also showed that family problems were more frequently found amongst the Child Molester sub category as well. Children who were often neglected or isolated by their families often presented antisocial behaviors and negative attitudes. Those who sexually offended peers their own age presented less emotional issues than those who molested children. It is hard to characterize female’s personalities or behavioral traits in relation to juvenile sex offending because there is not a lot of research on girls who sexually abuse.
In the journal “Examining the Sexual Offenses of Female Juveniles; the relevance of childhood maltreatment” they share a 2007 report in which the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice covered a five year period from 2001-2006 in which they determined that females constitute for 5%-10% of juvenile sex offenders (Krysik, J. 2008). Since the percentage of female juvenile sex offenders is significantly smaller than male juvenile sex offender’s females receive less attention. Juvenile sex offenders are not all alike when it comes to personality or behavioral traits.
The largest groups of sexual offenders are considered to fall into the category of being antisocial or impulsive in their behaviors and personalities. Traits or characteristics that the antisocial or impulsive juvenile sex offenders reveal are poor academics, aggression, disruptive behavioral issues, and association with other antisocial peers (Bosley, J. 2003 p 572). Mostly all antisocial or impulsive juvenile sex offenders have a history of physical and emotional abuse. Also most of the antisocial or impulsive juvenile sex offenders have been introduced to ubstance use and abuse at a young age (Bosley, J. 2003, p. 572). But the most essential characteristics of antisocial or impulsive juvenile sex offending are the high levels of psychopathology and externalizing problem behaviors that they act on. The second most prevalent personality or behavioral trait that a juvenile sex offender can be categorized in is the unusual or isolated character type. The unusual or isolated juvenile sex offender is strange, solitary, and confused (Bosley, J. 2003, p. 573).
Rather than externalizing their behavior like the antisocial or impulsive juvenile sex offender, the unusual or isolated juvenile sex offender internalizes their behaviors. In doing so they prevent themselves from forming and maintaining healthy mature relationships. The third most prevalent personality or behavioral characteristic that a juvenile sex offender can be categorized as is the over controlled or reserved type. The over controlled or reserved juvenile sex offender has a pro-social attitude, avoids expressing emotions and is very shy (Bosley, J. 2003 p. 573). This juvenile sex offender is quiet and extremely aloof in nature.
The last personality or behavioral characteristic that a juvenile sex offender can be categorized as is the confident or aggressive type. The confident or aggressive juvenile sex offender is friendly, out-going, self-assured, narcissist in nature and shows a severe lack of empathy for human emotions (Bosley, J. 2003 p. 574). This juvenile sex offender can be out-going in nature but in secrecy he has no human compassion. The antisocial/impulsive attitudes and the unusual/isolated attitudes are the two most common types of juvenile sex offenders, and are also the more socially awkward of the four categories.
That being said, the over controlled/reserved attitudes and the confident/aggressive attitudes can be the most frightening because these individuals make sure to “fit-in” both types trying to depict pro-social behaviors. The most difficult of the four categories of behaviors or personalities to explain are the confident/aggressive juvenile sex offenders because these sociopathic individuals are adept at appearing “normal” when in fact they lack a healthy conscience, thereby freely using deceit to satisfy their selfish desires, all the while pretending to be someone who is friendly and out-going. Risk Factors:
There are many risks that must be taken into consideration while dealing with a juvenile sex offender. At the time of arrest the juvenile sex offender is administered a risk assessment. The risk assessment begins to determine the intensity of supervision the juvenile sex offender requires when the juvenile is released back into society, how long the treatment will last, whether or not there is a likelihood of recidivism which would lead to the notification of the community and the level of retention the juvenile requires; family home, therapeutic home, in or out patient rehabilitation or a secure criminal justice facility (Bosley, J. 003 p. 575). The risk assessment allows the police officers, judges and the juvenile therapists to rate the duration and punishment of the juvenile sex offender. If they release a juvenile sex offender to soon they run the risk of the offender committing another crime. If they do not get the juvenile sex offender the treatment and care he or she needs than they run the risk of allowing a mentally unhealthy adolescent back out onto the streets. The results of risk assessment should present more than enough information in order to support both clinicians and legal professionals to reach an understanding of each delinquent.
The prime risk factor that the Juvenile Justice System and Mental Health Professions most face when it comes to a juvenile sex offender is whether or not they will re-offend when released. The most highly respected test that indicates recidivism rates of juvenile sex offenders is the “Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol” which targets four major factors: sexual drive/preoccupation, impulsive/antisocial behaviors, clinical/interventional, and community stability/adjustment (Bosley, J. 2003 p. 578).
The Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol is used to avoid the probability that a juvenile sex offender once released will relapse and act defiantly. If all four factors are not met than the juvenile sex offender cannot be released from the institute in which they reside. The most important risk factor to keep in mind is to not allow harmful people back onto the streets. To avoid this we must provide treatment and interventions with concentrated individual care, this way we can avoid over looking anyone. Treatments and Interventions:
The first objective of any intervention is to identify whether or not the offender is capable of causing harm to himself or to his community, in which case residential facilities are required. As of 1997 there were 600 treatment programs in the United States (Ertl, M. 1997) 100 of these programs occur in inpatient settings. Inpatient setting means that the juvenile sex offender is living in a therapeutic facility with supervision. In order to become a juvenile sex offender inpatient you must have numerous offenses.
Within these offenses aggression has to have been enforced, and severe emotional/behavioral problems have been displayed (Ertl, M. 1997). The juvenile sex offender must have an antisocial attitude with no motivation for treatment. Some juvenile sex offenders may have suicidal or homicidal thoughts, which usually means automatic inpatient therapy. Some research backs the notion that juvenile sex offenders should be placed in facilities with only juvenile sex offenders not all juvenile delinquents.
This is due to treatment centers trying to have individual focuses. It has been discussed that individuals who are undergoing treatment would rather be around others who experience the same problems and are undergoing similar if not the same type of treatment. This way no one feels as if one delinquent is worse or better than the other. Inpatient facilities are effective most of the time because the juvenile sex offenders live within the facilities.
They have a strict regime everyday that must be followed. Some facilities that juvenile sex offender’s will be living in are juvenile detention centers, this means that the juvenile sex offender will be treated in the detention center rather then in a therapeutic community like rehabilitation. One study conducted by Bijleveld and Hendricks in 2008 shows that of 114 male juvenile sex offenders who lived in a residential treatment facility only 11% re-offended (Bijleveld, C. 2008 p. 23).
This is the lowest percentage of recidivism thus far. Just in 1993 a study conducted by Rubenstein found that the percentage for general recidivism for juvenile sex offenders to be 89%. This may have to do with the rise in concern for recidivism amongst juvenile sex offenders. Group therapy has proven to console those who have a problem, and to show them they are not alone; this is why researchers believe that juvenile sex offenders should only be facilitated with other juvenile sex offenders.
Group therapy provides comfort from peers and practices social skills, which provide opportunities for learning and modeling by peers (Ertl, M. 1997). Juvenile sex offender’s can gain knowledge and insight on others who suffer from the same sexual arousal issues they encompass. Group therapy could also include family group therapy. Treatments and interventions do not only affect the offender but also the offender’s family. Since family life is the most important structure for an adolescent it is imperative that family life does not pose as a potential threat for relapse.
Rather the family needs to provide a combination of relapse preventions, which would make a significant difference in recidivism rates. Families are the most fundamental structures juveniles have. When a child has no help or support from their families they run the risk of becoming a delinquent. Family therapy also allows the family to express their feelings towards the actions of their juvenile. This also plays a productive role in recovery because when someone hears from a loved one how much he hurt or disappointed his family, it will make him want to change.
Another reason why family therapy is so important is because the juvenile sex offender may not have been aware of how serious sexual abuse is. Continuing education and sexual discussions are supposed to come from parents or teachers. Family group therapy allows both the child and the family to educate themselves about juvenile sex offenders. Family group therapy allows the chance for not only the juvenile delinquent to learn about himself or herself, but also allows their families to gain insight on their motives.
Future Research that can be conducted: As a society we have just recently started to classify what characterizes juvenile sex offenders. Now we need more advanced reports and follow up research that show whether or not treatment and or intervention have positive effects on the personality and on the behavior of the juvenile sex offender. A gender related issue in juvenile sex offending treatment programs is that most of the treatments are more focused on males reasoning for sexual offense rather then gender oriented reasons.
Since the percentage of female juvenile sex offenders is limited, female juvenile sex offenders are often placed in group therapy sessions with other delinquent females (Krysik, J. 2008). Not all of these juvenile females are a sex offender, which unfortunately leads to the loss of the group dynamic. When one person cannot relate to the other person and the group dynamic is disoriented. Juvenile females individual needs and treatment are left to the bare minimum, because the individual focus is only group related.
As a traditional society we also need to keep in mind that a lot of sexual abuse reports are never filed. This is due to many individual factors. Demographic information could lend a hand in explaining these factors. Also moral, ethnic and religious values may keep an adolescent from wanting to tell their families about being sexually abused. For example a son may not want to tell his father that another boy at school sexually abused him. Because of these reasons we will never actually know the real percentage of juvenile sexual abuse that occurs in our society.
As a society we need to keep an open mind to those who have mental and behavioral issues and those who become the victims of other peoples problems. Conclusion: The categorization and treatment of juvenile sex offenders is a relatively new issue in the Juvenile Justice System today. In order to prevent juvenile sexual recidivism and to comprehend a sociopathic juvenile with sexually offensive tendencies provides a set of challenges that need special attention from the Juvenile Justice System and the Mental Health System.
Both are required when discussing the characteristics of the typical antisocial juvenile sex offender. Knowing the risk factors, and the importance of risk assessments and tests like the GALJSO for juvenile sex offending and recidivism gives us great insight on the likelihood that a juvenile sex offender will re-offend. Knowing the importance of treatment and intervention programs either inpatient or outpatient group therapy or family therapy is a key component while trying to understand the reasoning and ethics behind being a juvenile sex offender.