Adolescence is a crucial development stage in human beings. Teenagers usually experience several cognitive and physical challenges. For example, some teenagers often become shy and develop low self-esteem. On the other hand, some of them become aggressive. A sex offense is one of the serious challenges among adolescents. In America, sexual violence perpetrated by teenagers has become a serious challenge (Awad & Saunders, 2009, p. 195).
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Adolescents do not characteristically commit sex assaults against grown-ups. Nonetheless, the risk of assaulting against grown-ups increases to some extent after a teenager reaches sixteen years. At present, juveniles account for approximately one-fifth of rape cases. Furthermore, adolescents have been linked to many incidences of child molestation (Travin & Cullen, 2008, pp. 140-141).
“Studies indicate that majority of juvenile sexual offenses appear to involve adolescent male perpetrators; however, female adolescents to some extent engage in abusive sexual behaviors” (Becker, 2002, p. 185). Juvenile sex offenders are defined as teenagers between the age of thirteen and seventeen years who commit unlawful sexual behaviors. This essay discusses adolescent sex offenders.
Causes of Adolescent Sex Offense
Available literature suggests that the following factors can cause Juvenile sex offense. Peer pressure can lead to the development of bad behavior in adolescents because they can be influenced easily at this stage of development (Travin & Cullen, 2008, pp. 146-147).
For example, teenagers who have engaged in the sexual offense can coerce their peers to carry out irresponsible sexual behavior. Early exposure to pornography can lead to the development of irresponsible sexual behavior (Katz, 2007, pp. 567-568).
Various studies indicate that adolescents who abuse drugs often engage in immoral behaviors such as stealing and sexual offenses. Teenagers who have experienced sexual maltreatment can be motivated to molest children due to psychological disorders. Exposure to violent role models can also make teenagers aggressive (Stevenson & Wimberleya, 2012, pp. 55-56).
“Although sexual aggression may emerge at an early stage of the development process, there is no substantive evidence to suggest that the majority of juvenile sex offenders are likely to become adult offenders” (Travin & Cullen, 2008, p. 148).
Juveniles who sexually harass minors mainly attack female children. Within the general population of adolescents who sexually attack children, some teenagers demonstrate serious violence. Generally, these adolescents exhibit high levels of psychological disorders such as low self-esteem and sexual sadism (Becker, 2002, p. 187).
Prevention of Adolescent Sex Offense
The causes above of adolescent sexual misconduct can be prevented through the following mechanisms. Adults should be good role models in society because their actions influence the behavior of juveniles. Thus, adults should not abuse adolescents (Stevenson & Wimberleya, 2012, pp. 65-66).
Parents should ensure that teenagers do not watch adult movies and pornography because they often tend to imitate whatever they observe.
Teenagers require regular guidance and counseling to enable them to understand the consequences of amoral behaviors such as drug abuse and sexual offense. Moreover, parents should monitor the sexual behaviors of teenagers (Travin & Cullen, 2008, pp. 142-143). Adolescents should also avoid bad friends who engage in criminal activities.
Treatment of Adolescent Sex Offenders
A number of approaches can be used to rehabilitate teenagers who engage in a sexual offense. Adolescent sex offenders require proper guidance and counseling. Generally, rehabilitation programs for juvenile sex offenders can be carried out in hospitals and community-based facilities.
Two important factors should be taken into consideration when correcting teenager sex offenders. “The first involves the premise that the safety of the community should be of the utmost importance” (Katz, 2007, p. 571). The second factor to be considered involves making sure that a juvenile offender is treated in a flexible environment. Inpatient treatment is often recommended for adolescent sex offenders who repeatedly commit sexual violence.
A juvenile sex offender who demonstrates mental and behavioral disorders require inpatient treatment. Inpatient therapy is also necessary when a juvenile sex offender exhibits antisocial behavior such as attempting to commit suicide (Becker, 2002, pp. 185-186).
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Moreover, inpatient care can be effective in rehabilitating a young sex offender who can be affected by the unstable relationship at home. It is worth noting that some methods of treating juvenile sex offenders are contentious.
Effective Therapy for Sex Offenders
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the approaches that can be used to solve cases of a sexual offense in adolescents. CBT is effective in treating both behavioral disorders and cognitive challenges. Thus, it can treat psychological disorders that can lead to sexual violence. It can also treat behavioral disorders, such as violence and drug abuse.
Parents and law enforcement officers should ensure that adolescent sex offenders receive early treatment to prevent the perpetration of sexual offenses (Travin & Cullen, 2008, pp. 146-148). Minors who have been sexually abused by adolescents also require proper physical and psychological treatment because they can also develop amoral behaviors.
For example, a child who is sexually molested might develop bad sexual behavior in the future. Therefore, CBT can be applied in treating victims of sexual abuse. Studies show that juvenile sex offenders are more responsive to therapy than grown-up sex offenders are. Moreover, they are less likely to commit similar offenses in the future if they are properly treated (Stevenson & Wimberleya, 2012, pp. 63-64).
Rehabilitation versus Punishment
Some individuals contend that juvenile sex offenders should be punished like adult sex criminals. Conversely, others argue that young sex offenders should be rehabilitated. Indeed, rehabilitation is the best mechanism to correct young sex offenders because of the following reasons. It offers long-term solutions to deviant behavior.
For instance, the process of rehabilitation helps in the identification of the factors that may make a teenager commit a sex offense. This facilitates the proper treatment of the offender (Stevenson & Wimberleya, 2012, pp. 57-58).
Furthermore, it is meaningless to punish a teenager who is suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders. In most cases, “teenager sex offenders pose a controllable level of danger to the society” (Travin & Cullen, 2008, p. 148). Thus, they can be rehabilitated in the community under the supervision of therapists.
Punishment should be used as the last option of correcting young sex offenders because it does not address the causes of the problem. Punishment is less effective because it can negatively reinforce bad behavior. It only deters teenagers from committing a crime, but it does not solve the causes of bad behavior.
Consequently, teenagers are likely to repeat sex offenses if they are punished. Moreover, punishment can reinforce behavioral disorders such as violence. For instance, a violent teenager can become more aggressive if he is punished for committing a sex offense.
Indicators of Normal Sexual Exploration versus Problematic Sexual Behavior
Teenagers demonstrate normal sex behavior when they recognize changes in their sex organs. “Many children and teenagers derive pleasure from genital manipulation” (Katz, 2007, p. 573). Genital manipulation is not a bad behavior unless a child’s nebulous pleasure becomes a serious form of sexual enjoyment. Some of the indicators of problematic sexual behavior include the following.
Teenagers who watch pornographic content have problematic sexual behavior. Unsuitable sexual contact with children is a sign of bad sexual conduct. Sexual bullying and assault is a serious indicator of bad sexual conduct (Awad & Saunders, 2009, pp. 201-202).
Repetitive public exposure of private body parts is also a sign of bad sexual conduct. Therefore, parents and caretakers should always examine sexual conducts of teenagers to prevent unwanted sexual activities. “Parents should seek professional assistance if their teenagers persistently demonstrate bad sexual conduct” (Travin & Cullen, 2008, p. 148).
This essay has revealed that juvenile sex offenders are increasing at a high rate in the society. Young sex offenders pose a great challenge to minors. “Some of the common factors that lead to sexual misconduct in teenagers include lack of proper guidance and counseling, exposure to pornography, drug abuse, and peer influence” (Becker, 2002, p. 187). Juveniles can be prevented from committing sex crimes through proper guidance and counseling.
Young sex offenders can be corrected through various approaches depending on the severity of a sex offense. CBT is highly recommended for treating young sex offenders because it is effective in developing good behaviors.
Rehabilitation is the best mechanism for correcting young sex offenders because it offers long-term solutions. Conversely, punishment should not be used to correct unwanted sexual behavior because it does not solve the actual causes of the problem.
Awad, G., & Saunders, E. (2009). Adolescent child molesters: Clinical observations. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 19(3), 195-206.
Becker, J. (2002). Adolescent sex offenders. The Behavior Therapist, 11(9), 185-187.
Katz, R. (2007). Psychosocial adjustment in adolescent child molesters. Child Abuse and Neglect, 14(12), 567-575.
Stevenson, H., & Wimberleya, R. (2012). Assessment of treatment impact of sexually aggressive youth. Journal of Offender Counselling, 12(12), 55-68.
Travin, S., & Cullen, K. (2008). Female sex offenders: Severe victims and victimizers. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 35(1), 140-150.