Sexually coercive adolescents incidence risk factors and outcome
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Sexually coercive adolescents: incidence, risk factors and outcome. Cecilia Kjellgren Lic SW, PhD Cand Lund University. Adolescent sexual offenders. Aged 12-17 Females and males In Sweden - 15 years age of criminal responsibility.

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Sexually coercive adolescents: incidence, risk factors and outcome

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Sexually coercive adolescents:incidence, risk factors and outcome

Cecilia Kjellgren

Lic SW, PhD Cand

Lund University

Adolescent sexual offenders

  • Aged 12-17

  • Females and males

    • In Sweden - 15 years age of criminal responsibility

National incidence of reports to social services year 2000Kjellgren, Wassberg, Carlberg, Långström & Svedin, 2006

  • New reports to social services during year 2000

  • Aged 12-17

  • 197 males, 2 females

  • Incidence rate - among males 0.06%

    • number of reported cases year 2000 divided by the male population ages 12-17

  • Equally frequent reports from big cities and rural areas

02 - .07 %

.07 - .14 %

.15 - .26 %

.26 - .91 %

no reported


Distribution -incidence rates in Sweden




Child offenders

more likely grooming behaviour

often social isolation

emotional loneliness

other criminal behaviour unusual

Peer offenders

more likely rape


conduct problems

other criminal behaviour present

Two subgroups

Child vs peer offenders, Kjellgren, 2006

Social workers reported experiences of the clinical work with adolescents who sexually offend

  • Difficulties, resistance and experiences of success.

  • Half of the local authorities in Sweden (n=140) participated.

  • One hundred and eighty social workers sent their comments.

  • The comments have been grouped in four sub groups with the themes:

    • knowledge and resources

    • responsibility and cooperation

    • good practice

    • to approach of the adolescent sex offender

Population based study - background

  • Representative population-based surveys to complement the knowledge about the etiology of adolescent sexual offending

  • Comparisons only with non-conduct problem subjects will not separate risk / needs factors that are common to various forms of antisocial behavior from those that are specifically associated with sexually coercive behaviour

Population based study

  • 4.343 3rd year students upper secondary school (further education)

  • Mean age 18.0 years

  • Identify general and specific risk factors of sexual coercive behaviour

    • To identify general risk factors and those specific of sexual coercion, the results were compared with conduct problem youths as well as with normal controls.


Subjects were divided into three groups;

  • sexually coercive (SEX)

  • non-sex conduct problem (CP)

  • control adolescents (NC)

Definition of study groups

Sexually coercive behavior group (SEX)

Subject endorsed ”ever talked someone into, used pressure or forced somebody to masturbate you, to have sexual intercourse, oral sex or anal sex”

Non-sex conduct problem group (CP)

Subject endorsed ≥3 of ”ever violent conflict with teacher, ever theft of >85 £ worth, ever burglary, ever stolen car or mc, frequently truant (≥5 times), ever away from home whole night without parents knowing where”

Victims of penetrating sexual abuse

Sexual preoccupation

Acceptance of rape mythsBurt, 1980 (range 5-35)

Ever porn use

Porn use almost daily

Results: Correlates

Both general criminogenic and sexuality-specific risk factors were related to self-reported sexually coercive behaviour among boys and girls

General correlates to conduct-disordered behaviour (including sexually abusive behaviour) in boys were; lower parental socio-economic position, separated parents, non-majority ethnicity, and being in non-theoretical study programmes.

For both boys and girls, aggressiveness and risk taking, frequent alcohol consumption, use of cannabis and harder drugs (particularly in girls) were general correlates to conduct-disordered behaviour.

Results: Correlates

For both boys and girls, risk factors related more specifically to sexually coercive behavior, as compared to non-sex conduct problems, were: being a victim of sexual abuse (boys only), feeling sexual lust almost all the time, using porn almost daily, and endorsing more rape myths.

Sexually coercive girls tended to have fewer general correlates to conduct-disordered behavior (e.g. poorer socio-economic position, separated parents, non-majority ethnicity, non-theoretical programmes) than did sexually coercive boys

Conclusions study 1 and 2

  • Approximately 10-15% of sexual offences committed by adolescents are reported to authorities

  • 1-3% of reported adolescent sex offenders are girls

  • Self reports indicate that girls constitute approximately 20% of the offending population

Risk assessment

  • Identify risk and needs of the young person

  • Identify the risks of reoffending behaviour – in the interest of future potential victims

  • comprehensive assessment

    • Individual, family, school, peer domains

    • The narrative of the victim

    • Sexuality

      • Interview with the adolescent

        • Knowledge

        • Interests

        • Fantasies

        • Experiences

        • Sexual abuse

Empirically Guided Checklists

A systematic review of risk factors that have been identified in the professional literature as being associated with sexual and criminal offending.

Practical value of a decision-support system for risk assessment, in comparison to unstructured clinical procedures.

  • To improve the reliability and predictive validity of these assessments.

Risk prediction challenges for adolescent sex offenders

  • low base rates of recidivism

  • limited number of well-designed studies on recidivism on youth

Currently two instruments that have data to support the use for assessment of adolescent risk of sexual recidivismFaniff & Becker, 2006


    • (Juveniles Sex Offender Assessment Protocol-II, Prentky & Righthand, 2003)


    • (Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism, Worling & Curwen, 2001)

      • research on use of risk assessment is promising

ERASOR(Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offence Recidivism)

25 risk factors that fall into 5 categories,

  • Sexual interests, attitudes and behaviours

  • Historical sexual assaults

  • Psychosocial functioning

  • Family / environmental functioning

  • Treatment

Risk level

  • occurrence of factors of the adolescent, guide professionals to estimate the level of risk of sexual recidivism

    • Low

    • Medium

    • High

Review of factors associated with criminal recidivism in adolescents who have offended sexually. Supported, promising, possible, and unlikely risk factorsWorling & Långström, 2003

  • Supported risk factors

  • Deviant sexual interests (prepubescent children or sexual violence)

  • Prior criminal sanctions for sexual assaults

  • Past sexual offences against two or more victims

  • Selection of a stranger victim in sexual offence

  • Lack of intimate peer relationships / social isolation

  • Incomplete sexual offence-specific treatment

Follow-up study

  • Originally a clinical sample of 90 adolescent females and males assessed 1998-2004

  • 4 girls and 86 boys

  • Mean age 15 years by assessment (11-19 years)

Follow-up study≥ 4 years after assessment

  • 40 males participate in follow up (mean age at follow up 22,7 years)

    • Mean 6 years post assessment

  • Majority of victims < 12 years

  • Half of the victims

    • siblings

    • or children living in the same foster family as the offending adolescent

  • Majority of abuse, penetration or attempt to penetrate

Risk estimate for the study group

  • Low risk 22%

  • Medium risk 35%

  • High risk 43%

  • What happened……….?

Follow-up study≥ 4 years after assessment

  • Did the risk assessments predict adolescents with increased risk to commit further sex offences/non-sex offences?

  • Identify individual risk factors associated with reoffending?

  • Social adjustment and life style today?

  • Sexual health or sexual deviances today?

  • How did they experience disclosure, assessment and intervention?

Follow-up study≥ 4 years after assessment

  • interview and psychometric measures

    • Job / studies

    • social network

    • life quality

    • antisocial behaviour

    • use of drugs and alcohol

    • psychiatric health

    • sexuality

    • their experience of the social services intervention

In progress…..

  • Extensive interventions more likely for adolescents assessed of high risk

    • though some high risk adolescents did not get any abuse specific intervention

  • High risk adolescents more likely to reoffend

    • in particular child offenders

  • Some peer offenders referred to general interventions for anti-social behaviour

    • did not get any abuse specific interventions

    • reported worrying deviant sexual fantasies / interests


  • offence specific treatment

    • 5 % reoffend sexually within 4 years

      • Worling & Curven, 2000, Adolescent sexual offender recidivism: success of specialized treatmen and implications for risk prediction, Child Abuse and Neglect, 24:7

  • no specialised treatment

    • 20-30% reoffend sexually

      • Worling & Långström, 2003, Assessment of Criminal recidivism risk with adolescents who have offended sexually, Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 4:4

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