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Juvenile Sexual Offenders: Continuous Research Needed

By Thomas G. Tittle / PATC

Historically, sexual crimes differ from other incidents that law enforcement encounters in its investigatory efforts. Most incidents center on revenge, greed, fear, and hate.

With these, although one doesn’t agree with actions, humankind tends to accept or understand the criminal intent somewhat, albeit emotional or planned factors.

For years, the study of sexual crimes primarily examined adult behavior in an attempt to discover the dark reason for their acts. Little, if any, effort was applied towards juveniles.

Theories ranging from mental disease, extra Y-chromosomes, hard impacts on the head, violent television, poor parental experiences, as well as “folk lore” have been offered as explanations for juveniles becoming the “bad seed.”

Movies and books seem to make sex offenders the headliners and best sellers. However, within the last several years, exploration and emphasis has been placed on the background, environment and conditioning of our children. This concern has targeted the juvenile sexual offender and “what makes him tick.”

The first (recognized) juvenile sexual serial offender/killer was Jesse Pomeroy of the Boston area in the late 1800’s. The first adult labeled under the same classification was Herman Mudgett, who took up residency in Chicago, almost in the same time period.

Were they around before this period? Certainly. However, either a label or name was not available for them or their offenses weren’t recognized as sex offenses.

A journalist gave the term multi-murder to Mudgett. Terms used to identify “styles” of killing including spree, mass and serial.

What appears to have been left out is the one who uses his/her “power” to compel others to do his/her bidding (Jim Jones, Charles Manson and Adolph Hitler). I have applied the label of “ordained murderer,” because of the belief/drive that motivates them (religious, military or “purging” selected groups to make their perceived society better).

Studies have targeted behaviors common to sexual offenders, including, but not limited to:

  • A fascination with fire;
  • Abuse(s);
  • An injurious attitude toward animals and other living creatures;
  • Dysfunctional family atmosphere;
  • Head trauma;
  • Desire for violent video games; and
  • Bedwetting

Intervention may not be possible just because law enforcement observes certain behaviors or “signs” of a subject. Like other arenas of the human mind and behavior, this is not an exact science.

At the beginning of the 20th century, people who were thought to act strange, what we would believe today because mental illness, were alienated in society. Those who treated these “aliens” were called “alienists” (psychiatrists).

Although not a qualified mental health professional, the law enforcement officer deals with these behaviors when criminal behavior occurs. By the very nature of the job itself, the officer is becoming familiar with the repetitive actions by this certain typology of behaviors. Some typings are based on theories, arrest statistics or patterns they observe.

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    about 6 years ago



  • 6332319t_max50


    over 6 years ago


    This is a good presentation on the subject. The population sample that is used for the statistical data base is too small to be significant even though I find similarities in my own studies, at this time. There are just too many variables involved in the research, and; as these offenders are a part of a protected class, intense research is difficult to conduct. I have found that after working at three different facilities, a number of other factors come into play for the offenders: the offense, direct victims, and the in-direct victims. My current population of study seems to be made up of offenders ranging in age from 12 years to 20 years of age. They have all been "labelled" as mentally retarded or borderline retarded. My previous population of students/clients/offenders ranged in ages from 12 to 17 years of age, while the ones before that ranged from 10 to 17 years of age. I found that the most common trait amongst all of the "sexually aggressive youth" population samples was that they were highly skilled in manipulation techniques ( a learned and practiced behavior). They demonstrated intelligence in responsive episodes based upon their interests in the moment or any possible immediate personal gain. More often they were seeking power or the release of a high state of anxiety, and sought such through sexual adventure or misadventures. Many had learned how to play the system or had been allowed to assume roles that were less than appropriate for them based upon age in the home at some period of development. I found some that had been used as a crutch/outlet/source of comfort by a parent or guardian at one or more periods of development, and; if having had been empowered, had their power removed by another adult who entered the family and usurped or was given power by the present parent or guardian.

    As an officer on the street, I had a limited amount of time to devote to research activities, and; the department fostered no interest in taking on such a responsiblity, given the fact that administrators must continuously fight for money.

    As a professional educator, I learned that the public school system minimizes actions of offenders too often because they don't want to be responsible for giving up on a young person too early, or taking responsibility for "ruining the child's life." There is not enough emphasis placed upon people being responsible for their own behaviors. To make a sweeping generalization, it is always societies or the parent's fault for not preparaing the child to do what is right." Then, there is an argument for the failures of the churches to keep people interested in moral and social responsibilities as well as personal control.

    At what age does a human entity become a rational reasoning human being? At what point of growth is the individual capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong behavior? Whose right- is right? 'Where there is no law- there is no crime!' (A quotation of unknown authorship that I picked up along the path.)

    With all of the rationalization to present realism in the media arts, television, movies, video games, as well as audio tracks being made, companies continue to bombard the juveniles of the nation- if not the world at large- with images that present mankind in its most primitive images of behavior with no moral message rendered in the teaching for the unsophisticated. Hence, they, we- are all left to fend for ourselves. In essence, they live by a make a buck now and worry about the residue and future later.

    I conclude by saying that this is a well written and focused article, which has a large hole in it because of the population sample size. Yet, I do commend the author for the presentation and efforts, and; I would concur that a great deal of research needs to be conducted in this area.

    L. Riley, B.S., M.A., M.A.

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    over 6 years ago



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