OTTAWA, July 21 (UPI) — Adolescent sex offenders are incorrectly stereotyped as having poor social skills, Canadian researchers say.
Researchers at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Ontario and the University of Lethbride in Alberta say teen sex offenders share atypical sexual interests — such as coercive sex with peers and adults, exposure of genitals and desire for prepubescent children.
The study, published in Psychological Bulletin, finds teen offenders are more likely to have a history of being sexually abused, of sexual violence in the home and of early exposure to sex or pornography.
“If you walked into a typical group treatment for adolescent sex offenders, you might notice a lot of focus on social skills, like how to approach a girl, how to deal with conflict and understanding non-verbal communication,” study lead author Michael Seto of Ottawa says in a statement.
“Our research suggests that social skills training is not what young sex offenders need most in order to be rehabilitated. Discussing sexuality — early exposure to sex or pornography, sexual fantasies and sexual arousal — would likely get us closer to understanding why the offenses were committed and prevent similar ones from being committed again.”
Seto and Martin Lalumiere in Alberta led a meta-analysis of 59 independent studies comparing a total of 3,855 male adolescent sex offenders with 13,393 male adolescent non-offenders ages 12-18.
The researchers conclude social incompetence does not help explain why some adolescents commit sex crimes rather than other kinds of crimes.
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