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Community Corrections Officers' Attributions for Sexual Offending Against Children

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 11 Issue: 4 Dated: 2002 Pages: 101-123
Mayumi Purvis; Tony Ward; Grant G. Devilly
Date Published
23 pages
This article discusses gender differences in community corrections officers’ (CCOs’) attributions for child sexual offending.
Past research has identified CCO's as an important and influential factor in the successful rehabilitation of sex offenders. Past studies have examined the central role of causal attributions in the shaping of attitudes and beliefs regarding sexual offending and offenders. The examination of an offender’s causal attributions for criminal behavior can provide valuable information concerning the motives and the appropriate areas to be targeted for rehabilitative intervention. Child sex offenders attribute both their offending and sexual arousal to internal, stable, and uncontrollable causes. In this study, it was hypothesized that male CCO's would be more likely to implicate sexual reasons for child sexual abuse and view the causes as more specific and situational. Female CCO's would be more likely to cite power and control as reasons for child sexual abuse. They would also view motivations as internal to the offender, the causes as more stable, and view child sexual offending as controllable. Participants were 65 female and 20 male full-time or part-time Community Corrections Officers that were working for the Victoria Department of Justice in Australia and that voluntarily participated in the research project. The results showed that CCO's offered a wide variety of reasons for child sexual abuse. As hypothesized, female CCO's offered significantly more power and control reasons for sexual abuse compared to male CCO's. Male CCO's were found to be significantly more likely to cite psychopathology as a reason for offending. Male and female CCOs’ rating of internality was identical. Female CCO's did not view sexual offending as more stable than male CCO's. Female CCO's were not more likely than male CCO's to view sexual offending as controllable. Male CCO's were not more likely to view the causes of sexual offending as more specific and situational. Female CCO's were not likely to perceive sexual offending as more global and social. The result indicates that CCO's to a large extent are aware of the complexity of issues and range of variables that contribute to sexual offending. 1 table, 1 note, 39 references