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Sexually deviant juveniles: comparisons between the offender and offence characteristics of 'child abusers' and 'peer abusers'

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The last decade has seen increased concern regarding the sexual offences committed by young people. In line with this concern is an interest in developing an empirical research base that can help identify typologies of juvenile sex offenders and, in turn, direct resources. The current study investigated whether youths who sexually offend against children (individuals at least 5 years younger than themselves) differ in terms of offender and offence variables from juveniles who sexually assault members of their peer group. Findings were developed from data extracted from 43 files held by local Youth Offending Teams. Perpetrators of abuse were all male and were aged from 10 to 17 years. Findings indicated that juvenile child abusers experienced greater deficits in self-esteem and social isolation. In contrast, peer abusers had witnessed family violence more frequently and had family members associated with criminal activity more often. Logistic regression analysis found the variables of 'knowing the victim', 'lacking age appropriate friends', and 'having been the victim of bullying' all reliably predicted offender status (child vs peer). Findings suggest different typologies of juvenile sex offenders may have different routes to abusive behaviour and therefore require interventions that are tailored to their criminogenic needs.
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Keywords: Juvenile; adolescent; intervention; sex offender; typology; young

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Liverpool John Moores University, Centre for Public Health, Liverpool, UK 2: Department of Natural and Social Sciences, Francis Close Hall Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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