Last Updated 07 Dec 2022

Adolescent Sex Offenders and Social Workers Role

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One of the most significant problems of the Western world is sexual assaults which rank among the societies’ illness that connects to other crimes such as nonsexual crime, spread of infectious diseases, substance abuse and environmental damage.

Victims of sexual assaults are increasing on a large scale basis according to the 1987 surveys using stratified random samples of selected population.

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Sexual assaults during the past decades have shown that one half of the number of women interviewed say they experienced sexual victimization before reaching the age of 14 while one in four of the adult female respondents say they were sexually abused before the age of 18. Although most of these assaults were committed by adults, male juvenile sex offenders are beginning to take the limelight in committing sex offenses more than any other records we had decades ago.

Male sex offenders are those persons convicted in court of sexual crimes that include rape, sexual intent such as molestations and sexual component which include rape with murder. Categorically there are two types of sex offenders and these are the adult and adolescent offenders.

While the adult sex offenders are fully sanctioned by the law, juvenile or adolescent sex offenders are treated differently because they are still under the age covered by juvenile criminal justice system which separate them from adult system.

In the criminal justice system, the court considers a young person a sex offender when he or she cannot be responsible for the criminal behavior because of his or her age. In American jurisdictions, when a person is younger than 12 years old, he or she is considered a child so they cannot be convicted of sexual crime because sexual crime covers only those who are 13 years and above.

Juvenile or adolescent sex offenders, however, have ages of 12 up to 18 therefore they are within the juvenile court system and consider them as juvenile sex offenders. They can be held liable for sexual offense because according to the court they can be criminally responsible for the crime because of their capability to distinguish sexual offense.

According to the US statistical data, from 1985 to 2000, 91.8% of sexual offenses were committed by young males with ages 12 to 17.

In a study conducted in 1983 by Ageton, he estimated that approximately around 20% of all rapes and child molestations were caused by adolescent male offenders. One of the most recognizable characteristics of adolescent sex offender is their deviant sexual behavior.

This behavior includes sexual behavior on child molestation, pedophilia and fetishism. Sexual deviation is often interpreted as “sexual perversion” or “paraphilia”.  Paraphilia is defined in the medical or behavioral science as a behavioral condition that refers to sexual deviation, sexual anomaly, sexual perversion or a disorder of sexual preference.

Adolescent sex offenders suffering from Paraphilias are mostly males who develop this condition during their early puberty and may suffer from it until the age of 20 (Barbaree & Marshall, 2008).

In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published its last policy statement that includes information on rape and sexual assault by adolescents, victims of these assaults and the perception of these adolescents about sexual assault or sexual offense. Sexual assault or sexual offence may vary in definitions.

It may connote rape, acquaintance, date rape, molestation, statutory rape, treatment and management of the victim. In sexual offense, there is usually sexual contact with or without penetration that occur either with the use of psychological coercion or by physical force. It can also include touching the person that violates his or her persona or touching the person’s sexual or body parts or even touching the clothing that covers the intimate parts of the person.

There is molestation even when there is non-coital sexual activity between a child, an adolescent or an adult. Molestation which is one form of sexual offense can also include encouraging a child in viewing pornographic materials, fondling of the genitals or breasts or through oral-genital contact.

According to the national data, victims of adolescent sexual offense are mainly composed of adolescents themselves. Although adolescent sexual offenders may victimize any age group, according to the 1998 record of the US Department of Justice out of the 1000 males and female victims of sexual assault annually, 3.5 % are of ages 12 through 15 years of age and 5 % are of 16 to 19 years of ages.

These are only conservative data because accordingly cases are not all reported due to the fact that the assailants are of their acquaintance or relative of the victims.

Usually the persons involved in the treatment of these victims are pediatricians who are responsible in the management of children and the well being of the adolescents. This is because they are trained to conduct forensic procedures that are necessary for documentation and evidence collection which the pediatrician must refer to an emergency department or rape crisis center when there is the case of adolescent rape.

Rape cases may involve Colposcopic procedures that will allow examiners to check on genital trauma as seen in rape cases. Pediatricians who are tasked to treat sexually abused or assaulted patients must be aware of the legal requirements which include the completion of the needed forms, documentation and reporting to the authorities.

In case there is diagnosis and management of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) blood and tissue specimens should be obtained and checked as most of the victims of adolescent sex offenders may suffer from these kinds of diseases and infection (Kaufman, 2008).

But what causes male adolescent sexual offense and what are the treatments? According to studies adolescent sexual behavior develop during childhood. Because of exposure to non-profound sexual values and absence of bonding with their families, the young mind of a child learned to trust no one.

They may be exposed to sexual behavior and values that victimize people or live in a very complex family setting where they see their parents getting involved with other partners. Because of the lack of stability and consistency in mind, the children’s confused world affects their sexual identity.

Since they lack psychological support from their families, what they have in their environment confuse them to the point of getting confused by his own sexual identity. As they grow up, they cannot categorize what is right from wrong when it comes to having relationship particularly sexual relationship.

Psychiatrists can be able to see this abnormal behavior based from the adolescent’s background. They can also see the difference between normal boys and young sex offenders. A normal boy is usually self-absorbed but also much aware of other people and his surroundings while a boy with adolescent sex offender tendencies is usually motivated in satisfying his own needs with no regards for others.

In the case of a normal adolescent male, as puberty sets in he will take interest with the opposite sex. Although this is also true with an adolescent male sex offender, the problem is he can both become attracted to males and females but this attraction is not based on respect but with manipulative and opportunistic desire that involves inappropriate sexual fantasies.

While the normal adolescent boy begins to seek friendship with his peers, the offender will only wish for sexual relationships. Because of this unusual personality, the opposite sex may find him unsuitable for friendship and avoid his companionship. In view of this the offender may just commit sexual gratification by other means and to what satisfies him regardless of consequences.

Since this condition may become too emotionally deep, extensive study of the offender’s background and psychiatric test must be provided to prevent re-offending. Treatment must be applied and people in charge of the treatment must start with orienting the offender of his condition to prevent the status of denial and begin to process individual motivations, detect the signals to offending, monitor emotional responses and pattern of offense.

The offender must be taught to assume responsibility of his own behavior and must be told that his deeds make him to act antisocially. This process will enable the adolescent to understand his condition and can motivate himself to seek help to prevent future conflicts. This usual therapy can help in making the offender analyze and acknowledge his offenses so that he can have room for potential change.

Some important treatments that are involved to alter abnormal sexual behavior is altering the deviant sexual fantasies of the offenders and stop the habit of masturbation, improving the development of conscience and feelings of empathy. Patients subjected to group therapy experience faster treatment and this is where the value of the social workers comes into place.

The social workers can significantly assist treatment and therapy to enable the patients to coordinate events, thoughts and feelings that trigger his offending behavior. In case they bypasses boundaries of good morals, the social workers will reorganize and restructure their thoughts by teaching them re-routing their energies to legitimate leisure activities to prevent immersing themselves to boredom which can trigger offensive behaviors.

One of the most important aspects of treating an adolescent sex offender particularly in males is abandoning the objectification of people specifically of those sex partners so that he will learn social skills and attracting a person to a commitment of a true, loving and committed relationship. Getting him exposed to be moral is the main objective of therapy and treatment.

Truly, it takes a lot of effort to make an offender get on the right track because as we have said, his mind and abnormal behavior developed during his younger years of mental formation that is why treatments sometimes seem to be overwhelming.

There are different forms of treatment and therapy with this condition and they take in many forms. Social workers, however, does not rely on drugs or other forms of treatment that uses chemicals in enhancing treatment but instead they condition the mind of the offenders through the use of lectures, discussions, exercises, movies, instructional videos, role playing, oral treatment plan assignments and so on.

Usually social workers rely on the use of role models that are once adolescent sex offenders and can serve as rich source of experiences. Social workers are especially trained to share personal anecdotes in teaching the fundamentals of responsibility, sexuality, morality, social skills and communication, preventing relapse and emotionality.

They encourage their subjects in watching television shows and news programs that offer rich sources of discussion that provokes moral interpretations and judgments.

As have been mentioned before, group therapy can be the most significant treatment of all the choices provided by the social workers because a group mobilizes peer pressure and can be a powerful motivator for change and it presses confession and conformation as well. Counseling is also done to individual inpatients and outpatients on a weekly basis (Lakey, 1994).

 However since this discussion is primarily pointing at what are the causes and treatment of adolescent sex offense it must also be noted that prevention must be considered to altogether stop or spread the cases of this clinical condition.

We all know that 95% of the time, sex is rooted out in our childhood because as children, we have an inborn curiosity about everything including sex. A child who starts to mingle with other children accelerates this curiosity to an astonishing degree and therefore this is where the guidance of his family must come to play.

Once the child begins to notice the opposite sex it means his curiosity starts to accelerate removing himself to his confinement with his toys and playthings. However if the child cannot get from his parents the information of what he is curious about, his tendency is to run to his peers or other adults for the answers. Unfortunately, pedophiles are most aware in this factor and may use their advantage to gain the trust of children.

The result of the curiosity of the child may be disastrous in this manner. That is why sex education at home should begin the earliest possible time or when the child starts to ask questions about sexuality. Male child may ask about simple things but the parent must answer the child with very basic answers that do not need to talk about pure sex.

The parents must also correct misinformation that deals with sex contributed to him by his peers, classmates or other adults. Remember that everything that the child ask and see becomes imprinted in his young mind and will carry and lead him to other aspects related to what he learned during his developing years.

When the child starts to enter his adolescence he begins to experience confusion and will try to discover his true identity. Inadequate learning from his family or misinformation given to him by other people may confuse him deeply which can affect his personality and his view toward sex may become abnormal.

Being in the stage of budding adolescence is where the role of his family becomes critical because he will see that something different takes place on his body and at the same time notice that opposite sex attracts him. If misguided and the adolescent has no one to talk about the changes he feels, depression may result and he can have a puzzled adolescent life (Prendergast, 2003).

No man has desired to be a sex offender but unfortunately we cannot always direct our lives due to the fact that there are many influences that may put our child at risk. However, the US government is very anxious about this and so every US state are encouraged to put up their adolescent prevention program to put a hold on the growing criminality caused by the offending youths.

According to The Safer Society Foundation, in 1986 there were about 346 programs in the U.S. treating adolescent sex offenders with ages ranging from 12-17. In 2002 these programs rose to 937. But with the rising offenses during that period around 410 programs were also established for children under the age of 12 due to the rising trends of younger offenders.

Government programs were the result of these data because suddenly there was the need for establishing programs for juvenile treatment as referred by state courts ("Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department," 2006)

For the conclusion of this discussion, checking on the data plus the concern that affects some of our youth, there is a point indeed for concern for the need to answer the growing problem of adolescent sex offense. Through the years, this information tells us that not only adolescents are affected by this conditions but even younger males.

There are now researches to back-up the need for rehabilitation of the offenders because of the massive data that have been supported by studies and information from the US National Statistics and other government programs. Giving hope to these children through treatments encouraged by different programs is the only recourse we could do because we want to prevent further debilitation of culture and future of our youth.


Barbaree, H., & Marshall, W. L. (2008). The Juvenile Sex Offender, Second Edition (2 ed.): Guilford Press (book)

Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department.  (2006). Retrieved from

Kaufman, M. (2008). Care of the Adolescent Sexual Assault Victim. Pediatrics (Journal), 107, 1476-1479.

Lakey, J. F. (1994). The Profile and Treatment of Male Adolescent Sex Offenders. Adolescence (Journal), 29(116), 755-761.

Prendergast, W. E. (2003). Treating Sex Offenders (2nd ed. Vol. 1): Haworth Press. (book)

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