Demographic Correlates and Judicial Determinations of Child Sexual Abuse Offenses

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Abstract

This study involved an in-depth evaluation of court records and various investigation reports of 532 alleged child sex offenders as well as their interactions with the typical societal intervention mechanism. The major results indicated that offenders significantly differed from the general population in various background characteristics. Generally, alleged offenders were more likely to be from certain demographic groups such as male, minorities, the poorly educated, labor workers, and the unemployed. Comparisons between subgroups defined by prior mental health, substance abuse, and childhood experiences indicated that negative background characteristics were further associated with the severity and judicial outcome of the charges. These results suggest the complexity of determining the etiology, correlates, and criminal and judicial dispositions of child sexual victimization. Finally, this study questions the sufficiency of the current “quarantine” approach, which “segregates” perpetrators through the mandatory registration and general distribution of the identities of convicted offenders. Implications were made regarding the need for integrating various academic disciplines and for coordinating the services of societal intervention units.

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