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Structural Examination of the Predictors of Sexual Coercion Against Children in Adolescent Sexual Offenders

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 34 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 1313-1333
Date Published
October 2007
21 pages

For a sample of adolescent sex offenders (n=329), this study tested whether attachment disruptions, specific maltreatment experiences, or combinations of early abuse experiences played a rile in the development of certain distinctive, core personality traits (sexual inadequacy, psychopathy, and child sexual arousal) that mediate the prediction of sexually coercive behavior.


The study found that various developmental and early childhood maltreatment experiences, along with specific mediating personality traits, contributed significantly to adolescent sexual offending against younger victims. Four significant paths emerged from the data: from emotional abuse and physical abuse, through psychopathy and sexual fantasy, to child fantasy and child victims; from emotional abuse and physical abuse, through sexual inadequacy, sexual fantasy, and child fantasy to child victims; from emotional abuse and physical abuse, through sexual inadequacy, to child fantasy and child victim; and from sexual abuse directly to child victims. Contrary to previous studies, emotional abuse was apparently a more powerful factor than physical abuse in predicting manipulativeness, callousness, anger, and impulsivity. The study confirms previous research in showing that physical and emotional abuse frequently varied in combination and that a high level of association between these two maltreatment experiences is linked with problems in sexual behavior and aggression. The resolution of the trauma of childhood maltreatment is an important aspect of treating child and adolescent sex offenders. The study's juvenile sex offenders were sampled from various inpatient treatment facilities in Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Virginia. All of the juveniles had been adjudicated for at least one serious sex crime against a victim of any age. Data collection was conducted over the 5 years from 1994 through 1999. Participants were administered the computerized form of either version three, four, five, or six of the Multidimensional Assessment of Sex and Aggression (MASA). 2 tables, 1 figure, 51 references, and appended MASA scales

Date Published: October 1, 2007