Pathways to Delinquent and Sex Offending Behavior in Adolescent Males

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Although the available literature suggests that only a small percentage of youth who engage in sexually abusive behaviors go on to commit additional sex offenses, these youths tend to be versatile in the type of offending behaviors that they engage in and are at much greater risk of recidivism for nonsexual criminal offending. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been linked to a greater likelihood of both general and sexual offending behaviors. However, previous empirical investigations have produced mixed results with regard to how varied adverse experiences and other environmental factors interact to influence the development and course of delinquent and sexually abusive behaviors across samples.

In the present study, we used structural equation modeling (SEM) to confirm factors of ACE survey items and indicators of sexual boundary problems in the home through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and analyze pathways between confirmed factors and patterns of delinquent nonsexual and sexually abusive behaviors. Our sample consists of male adolescents (N = 285; 84% Caucasian; age at first admission: M=14.8; SD=1.6) who have engaged in sexually abusive behaviors and received treatment at a youth facility. As predicted, CFA revealed a three-factor model, including: nonsexual abuse and neglect; household dysfunction; and sexual abuse and indicators of sexual boundary problems within the home of origin. Variations in individual ACE experiences were differentially associated with the onset, nature, and persistence of nonsexual delinquent and sexually abusive behaviors (see Tables 1 and 2). Additional discussion regarding findings, implications, and areas for future research will be included.


Atlanta, GA

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