Study Shows Increase in Juvenile Sex Offenders – and in Violence

A recent report has indicated that the number of juvenile sex offenders has grown 40 percent over the last twenty years. Minors are also increasingly being accused of more violent crimes, such as forcible rape, attempted rape and sexual assault.

In a society filled with sex and violence fed to kids through video games, television, movies, internet pornography and the media, are kids being programmed to be sexually aggressive? Some psychologists say yes, and the numbers lend support to the theory. In addition to being exposed socially to sex and violence, many juvenile offenders also have been victims of and witnesses to sexual violence, abuse and aggression.

Other psychologists say that the numbers are misleading. With more awareness of sexual abuse in our society, laws have changed and more juveniles are now subject to being charged with sexual offenses that they may not have been years ago. This could account for some of the statistics showing a more dramatic increase in the amount of crimes committed. Also notable is the fact that more crimes are reported in today’s society than have been in the past. That doesn’t mean that the sexual crimes weren’t previously happening, it just means that they are more frequently reported and prosecuted under the new laws. Still, not all sexual crimes are reported to police.

It has been reported that half of all adult sexual offenders admit that their sexual criminal behavior began when they were minors. This means that if juvenile sexual offenders are not rehabilitated they become the adult sexual predators in our society.

There are now rehabilitation programs for children as young as 5 years old. These treatment programs are an option when putting a child in jail is not desirable or necessarily warranted by the crime, or can be argued by a criminal defense attorney. Many non-violent juvenile sexual offenders accused of fondling, statutory rape and prostitution may be served best by entering a court ordered treatment program rather than a juvenile detention center.

Society as a whole benefits when effective treatment options are utilized. It is better to rehabilitate youthful offenders than to simply punish them and have them grow up to be adult violent sexual predators. Treatment programs have been shown to greatly reduce, but not eliminate, the chance of future sexual aggression in juveniles. Offenders who do not complete the rehabilitation programs are much more likely to re-offend.

90 percent of juvenile sexual offenders are male and it is rare to find a juvenile sex offender who has not been a victim of some sort of abuse or neglect. They are found in every socioeconomic class and every racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural group. Statistics show that nearly 80% of children accused of a sexual crime have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. In some cases medication and therapy are key in rehabilitation. 30 to 60 percent of accused juvenile sexual offenders have a learning disability and nearly all have a problem with impulse control and judgment.

Whether or not the statistics are accurate the facts are that more juvenile sexual offenders are being prosecuted and more violent sexual offenses are being reported. In 1983 there were only 20 juvenile sexual offender treatment programs in the United States. Today there are well over 1000 worldwide.