Much has been reported (often with hype and inaccuracy) about “pedophiles” or “predators,” with people thinking these terms only refer to adults. But a new study released by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention offers quite a reality check. “It is important to understand that a substantial portion of these offenses are committed by other minors who do not fit the image” those terms tend to conjure up, according to the report, “Juveniles Who Commit Sex Offenses Against Minors,” by David Finkelhor (director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire), Richard Ormrod, and Mark Chaffin. Here are some key findings:
* More than a third (35.6%) of those known to police to have committed sex offenses against minors are juveniles (though “juvenile sex offenders account for only 3.1% of all juvenile offenders and 7.4% of all violent juvenile offenders”).
* “Juveniles who commit sex offenses against other children are more likely than adult sex offenders to offend in groups and at schools and to have more male victims and younger victims.”
* “Early adolescence [particularly ages 12-14] is the peak age for offenses against younger children. Offenses against teenagers surge during mid-to-late adolescence, while offenses against victims under age 12 decline.”
* One out of eight juvenile offenders – are under 12.
* 7% of juvenile offenders are females.
* “Females are found more frequently among younger youth than older youth who commit sex offenses. This group’s offenses involve more multiple-victim and multiple-perpetrator episodes, and they are more likely to have victims who are family members or males.”
* 77.2% of juvenile offenses committed by females occur at home and 68.2% of such offenses committed by males occur at home.
* Several intervention strategies have already been proven effective in reducing recividism among child and teen offenders, and this was encouraging:”Researchers found that one brief treatment for preteens reduced the risk of future sex offenses to levels comparable with those of children who had no history of inappropriate sexual behavior.”
The only reference to the Internet in the report is the recommendation that it be used to get “prevention and deterrence messages” to youth.