The childhood experiences of physical and/or sexual abuse, being neglected, and witnessing family violence have been associated with juvenile sex offending. A study of 1,600 juvenile sex offenders from 30 States found that only 1/3 of the juveniles perceived sex as a way to demonstrate love or caring for another person; others perceived sex as a way to feel power and control, to dissipate anger, or to hurt, degrade, or punish others.1
Several studies have shown that:
- Some parents of juveniles who sexually abused their siblings were physically and/or emotionally inaccessible and distant.
- Sex-offending juveniles appeared to be more disengaged from their families than were other juveniles and, consequently, may have been cut off from possible sources of emotional support and less able to form positive attachments, and
- There is strong evidence that family instability and problems in parent-child attachment in childhood are associated with more intrusive forms of juvenile sex offending.
Research repeatedly documents that juveniles with sexual behavior problems have significant deficits in social competence. Inadequate social skills, poor peer relationships, and social isolation are some of the difficulties identified in these juveniles.
Disorders and traits that have been associated with juvenile sex offending are:
- Conduct disorder,
- Antisocial behavior,
- Impulse control problems,
- Lifestyle impulsivity, and
Juveniles who have sexually offended have higher rates of depressive symptoms than are found in the general population.
A study of college students suggested that sexual aggression resulted from the interaction of two pathways:
- Hostile masculinity which involves beliefs that to be male involves taking risks; being powerful, tough, dominant, competitive, and aggressive; and defending one’s honor.
- Sexual promiscuity reflects age at first intercourse and numbers of sexual partners since the age of 14.
High scores on both pathways were associated with high rates of sexual aggression against women. Sibling abuse, (Sibling Incest) although it appears to be quite prevalent, often is underreported and ignored. A study was conducted with 170 juveniles who sexually offended against siblings (including step-, half-, and adoptive siblings) and extra-familial offenders (those who offended against children other than their siblings). The results showed:
- Sibling offenders perpetrated the greatest number of abusive acts.
- The duration of sex offending was greatest for sibling offenders.
- The sibling offenders were more likely than the others to vaginally or anally penetrate their victims, and
- Sibling offenders were more likely to have multiple victims.
And yet, in spite of these behaviors, only about 1/3 of the sibling offenders had court-ordered treatment, compared with ¾ of the other offenders.
1"Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended," A Review of the Literature, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2001