Section 4: Treatment
2 Hours


Part III: Goals of Treatment and the Frameworks and Modalities to Meet These Goals

Common Treatment Goals

Beyond the most fundamental and broad goal of treatment—to reduce sexual victimization—what do you believe some of the more specific goals of juvenile sex offender treatment might be?


Use SlideUse Slide #11: Common Treatment Goals

That’s right—there are several key treatment goals for juvenile sex offenders.29

You may have noticed that these treatment goals are not limited to issues of sexual deviance or sex offending. In fact, some of these goals are much more broad in nature. That’s because juveniles who commit sex offenses are not simply “sex offenders.” Such a label, even though we commonly use it, implies a very narrow view of these youth and their associated needs. And when you think about it, we don’t tend to think of other youth in such a narrow way—defining them based on just one of the behaviors that they have exhibited—do we? And frankly, none of us would want to be defined by only one aspect of our behavior, would we?


Put simply, we must consider these youth holistically, with an overarching goal of promoting healthy, well–adjusted youth. And when we expand our thinking about these youth to consider the “whole” person, rather than focusing only on their sex offending behaviors, the common targets of treatment appear less “sex offense–specific” in nature. In fact, because treatment is generally designed to promote overall wellness among the youth who receive it, the phrase “sex offense–specific treatment” may actually be somewhat of a misnomer.

In many ways, truly comprehensive, holistic, and integrated interventions for juvenile sex offenders resemble more general delinquency–oriented approaches—but with an additional focus on sex offending behaviors. And actually, this makes a lot of sense when we consider the prior delinquent histories of these youth. Several studies have found that many juvenile sex offenders have had prior contact with the juvenile courts for non–sexual delinquency.30

Relatedly, the emphasis on more holistic treatment approaches makes sense in light of the non-sexual recidivism rates of these juveniles. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that, as a group, these youth tend not to recidivate with new sex offenses; rather, experts have reported that sexual recidivism rates are quite low for these youth, and that if and when they do recidivate, it tends to be for general delinquent, non-sexual behaviors.31 This suggests that these youth are not simply “specialists” in sex offending.

Use SlideUse Slide #12: These Youth Aren’t “Specialists”

In one particularly interesting study,32 researchers followed a large number of juvenile sex offenders throughout the remainder of their adolescence and into young adulthood to see how many of them committed new sex offenses versus other types of crimes. Over half of these youth had a prior history of non–sex offenses. And as you can see, a considerable proportion went on to engage in other kinds of non–sexual criminal behavior as adults. Only a very small percentage was re–convicted for new sex offenses as adults. However, of that small group of sexual recidivists, nearly three–fourths were also reconvicted of non–sexual offenses!

Since these youth do not appear to be “specialists,” it makes sense that approaches to treatment are designed to be holistic and comprehensive, doesn’t it? That way, we hope to lessen the potential not only for sexual recidivism, but also for other types of delinquent or criminal activity.

So let’s talk, then, about how we attempt to help youth attain the goals that have been identified. In other words, what does treatment “look like” for these youth? What vehicles do treatment providers use to get them there? And what are the frameworks and approaches to sex offender treatment for juveniles?

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