Adolescent sexual offenders: the relationship between typology and recidivism
Adolescent sexual offending represents an ongoing social, judicial, clinical, and policy issue for services. The current study investigated the characteristics, criminal versatility, and rates of recidivism of a cohort of 156 male adolescent sexual offenders who were referred for psychological assessments by the courts between 1996 and 2007 in Singapore. Analyses revealed that specialists (sex-only offenders; n = 71, M follow-up = 56.99 months, SD follow-up = 31.33) and generalists (criminally versatile offenders; n = 77, M follow-up = 67.83 months, SD follow-up = 36.55) differed with respect to offense characteristics (e.g., sexually assaulting familial victims) and recidivistic outcomes. Although both groups sexually reoffended at roughly the same rate (14.3% vs. 9.9%), consistent with their typology, significantly more of the generalists reoffended violently (18.2% vs. 1.4%), sexually and/or violently (27.3% vs. 11.3%), nonviolently (37.7% vs. 16.9%), and engaged in any further criminal behaviors (45.5% vs. 23.9%) during follow-up. Adjusting for total number of offenses and age at first sexual offense, Cox regression analyses showed that generalists were significantly more likely than specialists to reoffend violently (hazard ratio = 9.31; 95% confidence interval = 1.15-76.39). The differences between generalists and specialists suggest a valid typological distinction with a higher risk trajectory for the generalists. These findings therefore have important clinical implications for assessment, management, and intervention planning for adolescent sexual offenders.