A Project of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

Short Version
Section 4: An Overview of Sex Offender Treatment for a Non–Clinical Audience
A National Perspective on the Current State of Practice
30 Minutes

Lecture Topic TOPIC: INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
(2 Minutes)

Use SlideUse Slide #1: A National Perspective on the Current State of Practice: Learning Objectives

Use SlideUse Slide #2: Current Sex Offender Treatment Practice Patterns in North America

Learning Objectives

At the end of this section of the curriculum, participants will be able to:

  • Describe trends in treatment program prevalence for adult sex offenders and sexually abusive youth;
  • Identify several sex offender treatment approaches currently in use in North America; and
  • Describe recent trends in sex offender treatment.

Current Sex Offender Treatment Practice Patterns in North America

This section highlights information drawn from a survey of treatment programs conducted by the Safer Society Foundation, Inc. entitled: Current Practices and Trends in Sexual Abuser Management, The Safer Society 2002 Nationwide Survey (published in 2003). This survey is updated periodically.

Now we will look at current sex offender treatment practices in North America, that is, the number of treatment programs for adult and juvenile offenders; community–based and residential programs; treatment programs for men and women; treatment for adults, adolescents, and children; the most frequently used types of treatment; and recent trends in sex offender treatment.

Use SlideUse Slide #3: Total Number of Programs for Adults, 1986–2002

Programs for Adult Males, 1986–2000

First, let’s look at the total number of programs serving adults. As you can see from the graph, over the past 15 years or so, the total number of sex offender treatment programs for adults in North America grew between 1986 to 1992 when there were more than 700 programs responding to the survey. However, in 2000, the trend has reversed itself and the number of programs has actually declined to under 500. Since 2000, however, the number of programs has increased to 951.

Use SlideUse Slide #4: Total Number of Programs for Adolescent Males, 1986–2000

Programs for Adolescents, 1986–2002

A similar trend has occurred in the number of sex offender treatment programs for adolescents during the same time period. There was an increase in the number of treatment programs from 1986 to 1992, after which the number of programs decreased in 2000. This decrease is so great that there actually were fewer treatment programs for sexually abusive youth in 2000 than there were at any time since the survey began in 1986—fewer than 300. Since 2000, the number of programs for adolescents has increased to 937. Note that these data are counting the number of programs, not the number of people being treated in programs.

These data arouse curiosity about the reasons for this trend. Why were there fewer programs in 2000 than in earlier years? Although we don’t have enough information to answer this question conclusively, there appear to be several contributing factors. Chief among these are a reduction in the amount of funding available to treat sex offenders over the past decade and an apparent decrease in the incidence of sexual violence over this period. Another possible explanation is a decrease in response rates to the survey because of methodological problems (e.g., recent surveys have gotten longer and more complex). The large increase from 2000 to 2002 may be due in part to a higher response rate to the survey.