Nisbet, I.A., Wilson, P.H., & Smallbone, S.W. (2004). A prospective longitudinal study of sexual recidivism among adolescent sex offenders.
Previous research has indicated that some adult sex offenders begin offending in adolescence and some do not. The aim of the Nisbet, Wilson, and Smallbone study was to examine relative rates of sexual and nonsexual recidivism in a sample of adolescent sex offenders and assess the degree to which adult sexual offense recidivism can be predicted by variables suggested in the existing literature.
The study participants were 303 males who had been assessed by the Sex Offender Program of the New South Wales Department of Juvenile Justice (NSWDJS), Australia. All subjects had either pleaded guilty to or had been found guilty of a sexual offence that occurred when the subject was 11 to 17 years of age. The authors obtained their data from routinely collected information in the NSWDJS database. The average age at initial assessment was 16.0 and follow-up periods ranged from 4.46 to 12.88 years (mean = 7.3). The sexual offences included both "hands off" (e.g., exhibitionism), "hands on" (e.g., sexual assault) offences and offences against children (53%) as well as adults (46%). Most of the participants were from urban areas and about three-quarters were of an Anglo-Australian ethnic background. Although study subjects were first time sexual offenders at their initial assessment, 55% had previously committed nonsexual offences (e.g., break and enter, assault).
After their initial assessment, 24.8% of the subjects received additional convictions for sexual offences while they were still adolescents (i.e., less than 18 years of age). However, only 5% of the subjects received convictions for sexual offences as adults and a further 4% were charged but not convicted of adult sexual offences. Nonsexual recidivism was common with 61.3% of the subjects receiving convictions for nonsexual offences as adults. Eleven of the 14 adult sexual offence recidivists also received convictions for nonsexual offences. Subjects who had initially victimized adults or peers rather than children were significantly more likely to be charged with sexual offences as adults and to be convicted of nonsexual offences. In multivariate analysis, older age at initial assessment, having a history of nonsexual offences, and a higher number of charges for the index sex offence were associated with increased risk of sexual offence recidivism.
Based on the results of their study, the authors make a number of observations. They include,
Having a prior nonsexual offence conviction at initial assessment was associated with an almost threefold increase in the odds of being charged for sexual offences as an adult, further suggesting that there is a strong element of antisociality, rather than sexual deviance alone, that is associated with the sexual offending of the participants in this study (p.232). The results of this study add to a growing evidence base that transition from adolescent to adult sexual offending is the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, it is clear that there is a small group of offenders who begin sexual offending in adolescence and continue into adulthood. Further research is needed to better identify this group and deliver appropriate interventions (p. 232).
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|Title Annotation:||Sex Research Up|
|Publication:||The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2004|
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