Juvenile Sex Offenders by Cynthia Godbey, Waln Brown
Tricia and Debbie are cousins. Both girls are six-years-old and best friends. One Saturday afternoon, Debbie called out to Tricia. After looking all over the house, Tricia found Debbie sitting in a closet holding a flashlight. Debbie told Tricia to come in and close the door. Once inside, Tricia noticed that Debbie was naked. Debbie asked Tricia if she wanted to play "house," adding that if Tricia agreed to play, she would show her "how daddies make mommies feel real good." "Watch this," Debbie said, and reached inside Tricia's underwear.
Blaine was eight-years-old and his sister, Karla, was three. Blaine and Karla were playing while their mother folded clothing in the laundry room. During a game of "Operation," Blaine decided to show Karla how to play the game "for real." He pulled down Karla's pants, grabbed a game piece from the playing board and tried to put it in Karla's vagina.
Greg was seventeen. He had been dating fifteen-year-old Sheila for three months. One evening, Sheila called and asked Greg if he would come over "right away." Upon arriving at Sheila's house, Greg learned that her parents were away and that Sheila was scared and lonely. After an hour of talking and watching TV, the petting began. Shortly thereafter, Greg thrust himself inside Sheila. That was when Sheila realized that things had gone too far. She cried out, "No! Stop!" but it was too late.
Were sex offenses committed in these case histories? Does one case history depict a sex offense, while others do not? What is the difference between a sexual offense and youthful curiosity? What kinds of juvenile commit sex offenses? What is the most appropriate way to deal with juvenile sex offenders? What role should the family play in dealing with juvenile sex offenders?
These are but a few of the many questions that need addressing about juvenile sex offenders. Until recently, however, sex offenses committed by minors were considered "developmentally normal curiosity," "adjustment reactions," or "experimentation." The court overlooked even clearly exploitative sex offenses committed by juveniles. Seldom was there an attempt made to address the sexual behavior. As a result, little attention was given to studying the causes or cures.
By 1983, however, researchers established that most adult sex offenders had committed sex offenses as kids, and by 1988, clinical reports determined that some juvenile offenders had begun their offensive behaviors by age five. That is why a report from the National Task Force on Juvenile Offending concluded that early detection and treatment of sex offenders is critical. Intervention is especially important because kids are in the early stages of physical and emotional development and tend not to have an established pattern of behavior. More importantly, the potential for repeat offending by adolescents and the development of a pattern that continues into adulthood indicates that early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the number of sexual abuse victims of all ages.