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The Sex Crime: Influence of Childhood Experiences

Sex crime denotes, but is not restricted to, molestation, rape, and incest. There is no simple response as to why sexual offenders engage in such criminal activities because it appears that there is a connection among numerous variables such as psychological, environmental, biological, and cultural aspects (Levenson et al., 2017). Based on a review of two relevant articles, this study discusses the effects of childhood experiences on sexual offenses in a person’s later life. Offenders may engage in sex crimes under an influence of having experienced sexual abuse themselves or other traumatic events in their childhood.

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In the article by Levenson and Grady (2016), dependent variables are sexual violence and sexual deviance in adulthood, while childhood trauma is the independent variable. The researchers used a nonrandom convenience sample that comprised sexual offenders in the US. All clients seeking treatment in outpatient and civil dedication programs (about 1,000) were invited to participate in the study by personnel and therapists through email. Evidently, attributable to trusting affiliations between clients and personnel, there was a high response rate of 740 individuals who agreed to complete the survey. The researchers employed a 10-point Adverse Childhood Experiences Scale in the survey of participants regarding childhood mistreatment, as well as family dysfunction. The findings of the study established that for male sex offenders, aspects that highly predicted engagement in such crimes encompass emotional neglect, childhood sexual abuse, and unmarried parents. However, the first two (childhood sexual abuse and emotional neglect) were the most substantial contributors. In explaining their findings, Levenson and Grady (2016) affirmed that for sexually abused children there is a likelihood of them using sex in their adulthood to compensate for the sentiments of invalidation or helplessness. Such offenders might reproduce this behavior and distorted thoughts of their abusers or relate sexual arousal to adult-child intercourse.

The dependent variable in the study by Levenson et al. (2017) is sexual offenses while the independent variable is childhood adversity (child maltreatment and family problems). This study employed the survey method and a nonrandom sample. The researchers utilized certified Florida Department of Juvenile Justice records on youths in correctional facilities. From 6,546 juveniles who had sexual crime histories, some occurrences encompassed battery (about 58%), kidnapping (approximately 1%), other criminal offenses (nearly 34%), and misdemeanor (around 7%). The prevalence level of adverse childhood experiences for juveniles arrested for sexual offenses was compared by gender to youths arrested for other criminal activities, gown-ups incarcerated for sex crimes, and the general population. The findings of the study established that for individuals who engaged in sexually abusive crimes, the occurrence of childhood maltreatment and family dysfunction was prominent. Male and female juveniles arrested for sexual offenses were found to have considerably higher incidence levels of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, parental separation or divorce, and household mental illness compared to other young offenders who did not have a sexual criminal history. In explicating the findings, Levenson et al. (2017) stated that with an enhanced comprehension of the traumatic occurrences of youths, people can inform and improve interventions intended to better the behavior and influence on sexually abusive juveniles and their family members, in addition to decreasing the possibility of future recidivism.

Sex crimes signify sexual abuse, rape, and incest to mention a few. Sex offenders take part in such crimes as an effect of having experienced molestation or other traumatic occurrences in their childhood. Sexually abused children have a probability of engaging in sex crimes in their adulthood to compensate for the feelings of neglect or helplessness. Excellent comprehension of the traumatic incidences of youths can enable people to inform and enhance interventions planned to improve the behavior of sexually abusive juveniles and decrease the chance of future recidivism.

References

  1. Levenson, J. S., Baglivio, M., Wolff, K. T., Epps, N., Royall, W., Gomez, K. C., & Kaplan, D. (2017). You learn what you live: Prevalence of childhood adversity in the lives of juveniles arrested for sexual offenses. Advances in Social Work, 18(1), 313-334. Web.
  2. Levenson, J. S., & Grady, M. D. (2016). The influence of childhood trauma on sexual violence and sexual deviance in adulthood. Traumatology, 22(2), 94-103. Web.

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