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@Issue 360 | Issue 27| April 2019

Since the early days of working with Juveniles who sexually offend (JwSO) the focus has been on sexual crime and sexual pathologies. This approach was described in numerous publications like Pathways (Kahn, 2001), Steen and Monnette (1989), and Ryan (1999). However, a paradigm shift was crystallized by Calwell's article (Caldwell, 2016) in which he examined 106 studies involving 33,783 adolescents adjudicated of a sexual offense between 1938 and 2014. Caldwell found a weighted mean base rate for sexual recidivism of 4.92% over a mean follow-up time of nearly 5 years (59.98 months) and total recidivism of 30%. Below are some issues related to nonsexual recidivism when treating JwSO.

Steinberg, Cauffman, and Monahan (2015) studied 1,300 serious juvenile offenders for seven years after adjudication. Less than 10 percent of the sample could be characterized as chronic offenders. Even for juveniles who were high-frequency offenders at the beginning of the study, the majority stopped offending by age 25. They developed a measure of psychosocial maturity which included impulse and aggression control, consideration of others, future orientation, personal responsibility, and resistance to peer influences.

Cauffman, Skeem, Dmitrieva, and Cavanagh (2016) studied 202 male juvenile offenders and 134 male adult offenders, all in secure detention facilities using versions of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. A measure of psychosocial maturity was also used. They found that there was a greater risk of exaggerating psychopathic traits with juveniles compared to adults. They noted that 37% of juveniles who met the cut score for psychopathy continued to meet this criterion two years later compared to 53% of adults. False positive errors appeared to be more common among the youngest and least psychosocially mature juveniles. Increased psychosocial maturity, in turn, predicted decreased psychopathy scores in adolescents but not adults.

This suggests that there is an "other" recidivism to be targeted for assessment and intervention with JwSO.  It  is nonsexual recidivism which in the Caldwell (2016) study was 6 times the rate of sexual recidivism (30% vs 4.92%). A variety of instruments exist for the assessing of the nonsexual recidivism with significant research including the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk for Youth and the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (Vincent, Drawbridge, & Davis, 2019).


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