NEARI Press and Training Center Newsletter - Volume 12, Issue 2: February-March 2019
The Juvenile Sex Offender: Criminal Careers and Life Events
Greetings!
Greetings from Massachusetts where Spring has finally arrived! Phew! We are relieved to see crocuses blooming and hear the joyful spring songs of the returning birds. Nonetheless, the quietude of winter in New England did provide us here at NEARI Press & Training Center with the perfect conditions for reflection on the future of our organization. We have been undergoing a process of determining how we will serve the field moving forward and will update you soon with the outcome of this visioning process. Thank you for your ongoing support and interest!
 
Were you able to take advantage of our "Winter Blues" book sale during the month of February? If not, look out for email blasts from us in the coming months about future sales. Beginning in mid-April, you’ll be able to find sales for as much as 50% off on a diversity of titles that we have in stock. We'll keep you posted by email. 
 
Did you catch our February webinar, the very helpful "LATTICES™: An Integrated Treatment Approach for High-Risk Forensic Clients" by Dr. Jane Ward and Diana Groener, MA. If not, you can view this, and all of our past webinars, on  NEARI Press & Training Center's YouTube channel . And don't forget to check out our  online bookstore to purchase Jane and Diana's new books,  LATTICES™: An Integrated Treatment Approach for High-Risk Forensic Clients --  a Clinicians' Guide and a Client Workbook. 

With our very recent March 12 th  webinar, we unveiled NEARI Press and Training Center’s newest endeavor,  Prevention 4 Professionals (P4P) , a project designed to provide youth-serving professionals with tools to prevent and respond to sexual behavior problems in youth. We were grateful to have the veteran and venerated clinicians David Prescott, LICSW and Becky Palmer, MS, present “What You Need To Know to Prevent the Perpetration of Sexual Abuse by Children and Adolescents.” Please encourage any teachers, coaches, and other school personnel; pediatric professionals; and others who work with children and adolescents to check out our P4P webpages . See our announcement about the launch of the  P4P project below! 
 
Have you taken a look at NEARI Press's newest publications besides the LATTICES books ? We're excited to now offer  Youth With Sexual Behavior Problems: A Practical Guide for Therapists Working With Youth and Their Families by Rene McCreary , a book for new and seasoned therapists alike that is based on cutting-edge research regarding the most effective therapeutic interventions for treating youth with sexual behavior problems (SBPs). This book is designed to help therapists feel more equipped to support and treat youth and their families by providing practical activities for reducing SPBs, strengthening warm family interactions, and improving parents’ supervision and communication practices. We have also just published Rus Ervin Funk's  What's Wrong With This Picture?: The Impact of Viewing Pornography , an eight-session curriculum that is designed to encourage men to critically explore the impact of viewing of pornography and deepen their empathy and compassion for women’s experience of pornography. Designed not for men in sex offender treatment groups, but for young men on campuses and who are participating in other kinds of men’s groups, this is an important volume for engaging men of all ages in a process of serious reflection and reevaluation of their use of pornography.
 
This month in the NEARI e-Newsletter, we take a look at the article  “The Juvenile Sex Offender: Criminal Careers and Life Events”  by Chantal van Den Berg, Catrien Bijleveld, and Jan Hendriks. In this article, the authors examine whether or not life events such as marriage, parenthood, and employment influence desistance in adulthood from sexual offending for those who were convicted of a sex offense in their youth.
 
Don't forget to follow  NEARI Press & Training Center , our new  Prevention 4 Professionals project, and Parent 2 Parent on Twitter at: 
 
 
and  on Facebook   to get updates about all that we are doing. 
 
Thank you for your interest in NEARI, and for the vital work that you do to keep children and adults safe from sexual harm,
 
Craig Latham, Executive Director, NEARI 
Alisa Klein, Director, NEARI Press and Training Center, aklein@neari.com 
This month, David S. Prescott and Alisa Klein examine the article:



AUTHORS
Chantal van Den Berg, Catrien Bijleveld, and Jan Hendriks
  (Please see below for full citation and abstract.)

THE QUESTIONS
Do adult life events such as marriage, parenthood, and employment serve as protective factors in keeping youth convicted of sexual offenses from reoffending as adults? Do the marital, parental, employment, and criminal careers and their association with offending in adulthood differ for the three types of youth convicted of a sex offense (those who have abused younger children, those who have abused peers, and those who have offended within a group)?

THE RESEARCH
The authors acknowledge that there have been several studies over the last 15 years that have looked at the adult criminal careers of youth who have been convicted of a sex offense and note that this research has by and large revealed that youth convicted of sex offenses have adult offense patterns very similar to youthful offenders of non-sexual crimes; specifically, that both groups show a low rate of recidivism and a gradual decline in general offending after adolescence. The authors hypothesize that it is likely that similar protective factors among both groups contribute to desistance. They warn, however, that there are three reasons why this hypothesis may not be correct and needs to be studied: 

  1. It is well documented that mood disorders and psychiatric disturbances are more common among youth who have sexually offended than youth who have not.
  2. With regard to employment, current policies keep people who have sexually offended from particular kinds of employment, thus limiting their access to employment opportunities.
  3. The stigma of having been labeled as “sex offenders” as a youth may impede their ability as adults to form relationships and ultimately, get married. 

The authors emphasize that policies of sex offender registration, notification, and others that are applied to youth who have been convicted of a sexual offense, are likely counter-productive because they may keep the youth, overall, from going on to experience protective life events such as marriage, parenthood, and employment. Therefore, this study aims to examine the development of youth convicted of a sexual offense over the life course by examining the three identified adult life events: marriage, parenthood, and employment -- and their association with adult offending. 

The sample studied included 498 Dutch males convicted of a sexual offense. The age of the youth ranged from 10 to 17 years, with an average of 14.4 years when they offended and were followed for an average span of 28.7 years. The participants were classified into one of three groups: juveniles who have been convicted for abusing a pre-pubertal child who is at least 5 years younger; youths convicted for a sexual offense against a victim their own age or older; and youth who had committed the sexual offense with at least one co-offender. To answer the research questions, frequency counts were used, as well as a “within-individual” regression model that compares an individual to himself over a period of time. Additionally, two multivariate models were estimated with the first examining the effect of marriage, parenthood, and employment on offending and the second model examining the effect of marriage, parenthood, and employment on offending per the three identified categories of youth. 

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
The participants in this study had an overall sexual recidivism rate of 12 percent. Of the new sex offenses, only 10 percent were committed in adulthood (after age 18), which was interpreted to mean that sex offending declined as the sample aged. The rate of sexual re-offense in adulthood showed no significant differences between the three offender categories. By age 28, 12.1 percent of the sample was ever married (interestingly, a rate lower than the overall Dutch male population in which 20 percent are married by the age of 28), and about 20.5 percent of the sample had fathered at least one child and on average, had children at younger ages than average Dutch males. There were no significant differences in the rate of fathering children among the three types of youth who had been convicted of a sexual offense.

With regard to employment, the sample at age 20 was similar to that of average Dutch males but with age, JSOs appeared to increasingly lag behind in their employment, leading the authors to surmise that “perhaps the lack of social skills and other negative characteristics associated with this population cause frequent termination of job contracts, making workforce re-entry increasingly harder as they grow older” or that the “influence of incarceration on employment” made the sample less employable. What’s more, the participants often had relatively short employment contracts, lasting an average of no longer than 6 months and their careers were interspersed with periods of unemployment. However, there were no significant differences in employment rates among the three groups of those who had been convicted of a sexual offense in their youth.  

In sum, the authors found that participants “fulfill[ed] adult roles” less than other males in Holland. Heterogeneity was found between the three groups in the sample: those who had been convicted of the sexual abuse of a younger child did sexually re-offend at a higher rate than the other two groups when they became parents. The authors hypothesize that this may be due to pedophilic or paraphilic interests among this group and recommend further study on this topic. The authors noted a number of limitations of their study such as, among others, whether or not the quality of participants’ marriage and employment might influence their re-offense rates. Because they did not refine their research accordingly, the authors recommend future investigation into the influence of developmental life experiences on re-offense rates of individuals convicted of sex offenses as juveniles.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PROFESSIONALS
These findings add to the existing literature demonstrating that treatment programs focusing solely on sexual abuse are missing critical areas that contribute to risk as well as protective factors. The capacity to develop and maintain relationships, stable employment, and parenthood are vitally important skills. Ultimately, treatment and supervision should aim at helping young men become the best men they can be.

Some caution is in order, however. This study finds a significantly higher sexual re-offense rate than recent American studies, such as Michael Caldwell’s 2016 meta-analysis. There may be many possible causes for this higher rate, including that this sample included youth with more severe histories of offending. Nonetheless, these findings point once again to the need for holistic treatment and supervision approaches. In designing treatment plans and programs, it behooves us to ask, “How can we guide youth in such a way that they can be competent at raising their own children?" 

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FIELD
This study also found that when youth do re-offend sexually, it is more likely to occur when they are still adolescents. For this and other reasons, it is crucial that policymakers look beyond aggressive, long-term measures such as registration, notification, and residence restrictions. The weight of the evidence is in the direction of short-term, helpful responses to abuse, such as treatment and supervision aimed at helping adolescents become adults.

ABSTRACT
In this article, we investigate whether the life events of marriage, parenthood, and employment were associated with general offending for a Dutch sample of 498 juvenile sex offenders (JSOs). In previous empirical studies, these life events were found to limit adult general offending in the population as well as high-risk samples. A hybrid random effects model is used to investigate within-individual changes of these life events in association with general offending. We also investigated whether the findings differed for child abusers, peer abusers, and group offenders, as they have distinct background profiles. We found that JSOs make limited transitions into the state of marriage, parenthood, and employment, showing overall stagnating participation rates. For the entire sample of JSOs, employment was found to be associated with a decrease in offending. Group offenders benefited most from employment. Marriage and parenthood were not associated with the general offending patterns, whereas for child abusers, parenthood was associated with an increase in offending. We conclude that policies aimed at guidance toward employment, or inclusion into conventional society, may be effective for JSOs. 

CITATION  
van Den Berg, C., Bijleveld, C., & Hendriks, J.(2017). The Juvenile Sex Offender: Criminal Careers and Life Events.  Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 29(1) 81–101. 

Prevention 4 Professionals (P4P) is a brand new project designed by NEARI Press & Training Center for professionals who work with children and adolescents -- particularly teachers, school counselors, coaches, and other school staff, as well as pediatric medical professionals -- to help them to:

  • Understand the risk and protective factors involved in the development of healthy and unhealthy sexual behaviors in kids
  • Access and utilize information, training, resources, and curricula to promote healthy sexual development in kids
  • Identify when a child or adolescent may be displaying sexually problematic behaviors and may be at risk to act out in sexually harmful ways
  • Know how to intervene before any sexual harm is done

Prevention 4 Professionals builds upon the work that NEARI Press & Training Center launched last year with our Parent 2 Parent project to provide parents with child sexual abuse prevention tools. Now, with P4P, we tackle the provision of prevention resources to the other adults in the day-to-day lives of kids: the professionals who work in youth-serving organizations.

Prevention 4 Professionals is a web-based hub of original videos produced by top experts, sample curricula for use with students, articles, and other resources for youth-serving professionals on topics such as healthy sexual development, consent, sexting, identifying risk factors and promoting protective factors, risk management strategies and procedures, having conversations with parents about the sexual behaviors of their children, and more.

NEARI Press & Training Center is proud and grateful to have been chosen as the sole recipient of the 2018-19 Vision of Hope grant to implement Prevention 4 Professionals .

Check out our Prevention 4 Professionals webpages
and tell the youth-serving professionals you know about the project!
NEARI Press & Training Center is pleased to offer you these opportunities to enrich your knowledge base and practice. All of our webinars are FREE and Continuing Education credits (CEs) are always available.

Join us every month, or just when the webinar topic particularly "speaks" to you.

Registration is easy . See you soon!
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE RESOURCE

“Restorative Justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.”  -- Howard Zehr, Zher Institute for Restorative Justice

"Healing Justice is a framework that identifies how we can holistically respond to and intervene in generational trauma and violence and to bring collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds. Through this framework we continue to build political and philosophical convergences of healing inside of liberation movements and organizations." -- Cara Page

We are just a week away from the 21st Annual MASOC/MATSA Conference. However, it's not too late to register!

When: Wednesday, April 3 - Friday, April 5
Where: Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center, Marlborough, Massachusetts

Reduced student rates!

Meet others working to prevent sexual violence, learn about the newest research, and build a deeper understanding of the emerging issues!

For more information: CLICK HERE or contact:
Diane Langlier at  dlangelier@neari.com  or 413.540.0712 x14
2019 Continuum of Services for Adolescents Who Have Sexually Offended Conference:
Sexual Violence - Name It, Face It, End It! 

Dates: May 6 and 7, 2019

Location:  Novotel Hotel, North York (Toronto)

Early bird rate only $235.00 before April 1 or $315 after April 1!

OPINION


By Miriam Krinsky, Ron Davis and Brian Gurwitz - February 13, 2019 

Treat kids like kids. It’s not only good common sense, but good public policy. Yet, this simple starting point has failed to be applied consistently to our thinking around young people. Moreover, this failure has denied so many of the opportunity for rehabilitation that we should afford all youth.

As experienced justice leaders, we recognize that prior “tough on crime” approaches have failed communities and created cycles of incarceration that have filled out jails, while not advancing public safety. We also recognize that these cycles start early, with far too many young people pushed into the adult justice system.  Senate Bill 1391 , a new law that raises the age of adult prosecution to 16, recognizes the capacity for change in every young person and is reflective of sensible approaches that reduce crime, promote accountability and rehabilitation, and make Californians safer.

For decades, California did not allow prosecutors to charge 14- and 15-year-olds as adults. In 1994, the Legislature changed the law in the context of the national, fear-driven, “tough on crime” climate. During this same period, the term “super predator” ( later disavowed  by the individual who coined it) was used to justify prosecuting mostly African American and Latino children. Politicians created a maelstrom of punitive policies — including California’s harsh “three strikes” law — that sent more people to prison for longer periods.

Prosecuting youth in the adult system is particularly concerning. In the two decades since California began prosecuting 14- and 15-year-olds as adults,  data have shown  sentencing youth to adult prison terms does nothing to deter future crime and, in fact, increases rates of violent behavior. Children sentenced as adults often lose hope and see little incentive to change; thus, their focus becomes mere survival rather than rehabilitation. Staying in the juvenile justice system enables them to participate in targeted programming, including counseling and behavioral therapy and access to the tools needed to both understand their actions and chart a different pathway when released.

The public safety benefit of keeping children out of the adult system is supported by extensive cognitive research. Fourteen and 15-year-olds are developmentally immature and less capable than adults of sound decision-making. This makes them less culpable and especially good candidates for rehabilitation. As the California Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety noted in its  analysis of SB1391 , science has debunked the “myth” that children under 16 are fully developed, and “proven that children and youth who commit crimes are very capable of change.”

Law enforcement has incorporated this science into modern policing practices around interactions with youth. A recent  guide  from the International Association for Police Chiefs recognized that “[a]dolescents are fundamentally different from adults in ways that warrant differential treatment in the justice system.” It also underscored that effective law enforcement requires training on adolescent brain development.

Despite this evidence and a growing consensus that children are different, some district attorneys are refusing to enforce  SB1391 . By ignoring evidence and science, they are actively reviving the fear and myth-based policymaking of past decades that caused significant damage to youth and communities.

It’s disheartening that we continue to wage the same fight that fails to reduce crime and, ultimately, harms public safety. Sadly, we have been there before. When evidence showed that California’s three-strikes law did not further public safety, many DAs opposed reforms that nearly 70 percent of voters embraced. And, in recent years, some prosecutors have opposed other voter-approved measures, including a range of reforms to sentencing, parole and juvenile justice — even though these enactments have reduced our state’s jail and prison population and increased investments in prevention and rehabilitation.

A new generation of leaders are taking a different approach. Prosecutors from Chicago, to Lansing, Mich., to Boston are rejecting failed punitive policies and embracing smart, evidence-based approaches. They recognize that young people have tremendous capacity to change and that keeping them out of the adult system benefits us all.

California has been a leader in embracing reforms that make our state safer and more just. As criminal justice leaders who are deeply committed to public safety, we support these common-sense shifts guided by evidence and data. We hope others will join us in serving as champions of reforms that promote the safe communities every Californian deserves.
NEARI Press & Training Center provides resources and training for the prevention of sexual abuse. We are a source of practical, cutting-edge information about promising and best-practice interventions for individuals with sexual behavior problems. We believe that by addressing healthy sexual development in children and adolescents, and responding to sexual behavior problems in children, adolescents, and adults, we can prevent sexual abuse before it is perpetrated.
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