Juvenile Sexual Offenders: Continuous Research Needed
By Thomas G. Tittle / PATC
The point being, awareness is the best friend of the law enforcement officer. Awareness may come in the form of “gut feeling,” heavy suspicion, or “something isn’t right” combined with their assessment of the situation at hand.
These insights come from investigative experience and personally dealing with worst-=case scenarios during the peak of an explosive situation.
More disturbing is the thought that a juvenile sexual offender reaches adulthood and is never caught or his sexual deviance put in check, what victim numbers they could generate.
Statistically, with a continuous targeting of juveniles, the estimates vary, but some believe it to be more than 100 contacts before an offender is caught (not necessarily arrested) and more than 300 during their lifetime. Recognition of select behaviors enables law enforcement to be more in tune with the investigation of a sexual offense. The following is a review of 29 juvenile (accused, arrested and adjudicated as) sex offenders who have been surveyed on specific areas.
They go to “group” regularly and acknowledge their guilt. From their responses, several conclusions can be made. Some aspects of their behavior remain a mystery. The names, geographical locations of incidents or other identifiers are withheld for obvious reasons.
Where answers do not total 29, the responses were not given on the survey. In some cases, the cumulative answer may go beyond 29. In this event, the respondent had multiple answers/victims.
AGE AND RACE FACTORS
A survey of 29 juvenile boys arrested and convicted/adjudicated, ranging from age 10 to 17 when they committed their crimes, is reviewed. The boys racial background is revealed as 6 black, 17 white, two bi-racial and two Hispanic.
The questions totaled 34 and were short answer. Information was solicited about the offenders as well as their victim(s). Upon reviewing the findings, listed below are some answers accompanied with insight or analysis.
Regarding the offender’s age, most incidents occurred at age 15 with a 14 as a close second. In 25 of the incidents, the victim was younger than the offender. In two of the cases they were the same age, and two had older victims.
In cases where the offender was older, the average difference in age between the offender and their victim was 6.24 years. The largest in difference was 12 years.
Females were the primary targets with 22 and male contacts at nine. *Some perpetrators targeted both male and female.
The above is not revelation. Many studies sustain that the perpetrator is almost always older than the victim is and that there are more female than male victims.
Without exception, all knew their victims. Seventeen admit their victim was a friend, neighbor or someone they were babysitting. Eleven stated they were related to their victim.
Make no mistake that a stranger contact can occur, but in the majority of cases, victims know their assailant. Keeping it a secret is the key to success for the offender. The victim may not recognize the incident as wrong, or could be intimidated and fail to acknowledge the incident.
LOCATION OF INCIDENT
Overwhelmingly, the victim or perpetrator’s residence was the primary location of the crime. Twenty one responses confirmed this. Other areas mentioned were: school bus, hallway, walking home and school (3).
Select questions were asked about animals and living creatures and if the offender had ever hurt one. Sixteen responded they had, with three stating they had burned a living creature.
Six responders stated they had an attraction to fire. Responses ranged from one actually starting only one fire to another stating he had set 53.
Seven acknowledged they had experienced bedwetting incidents beyond the normal age. Averaging out their responses, the age they appear to have in common is 9.85 years. The ages ranged from age 7 to 13. However, not one states they currently have this problem.
To ask someone if they stole, hurt or assaulted another is easier for them to acknowledge than, “I wet my pants when I get excited.” For someone to admit this behavior may be worse than the offense itself (peer pressure, ridicule).
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a common question everyone is asked at one time or another. This, too, was inserted in the survey. Many responses included a high-risk behavior, such as: pilot (2), cop (3), astronaut, Marine, pro basketball, pro baseball (3) and the one with the most responses, pro football (4).