I wasn’t going to write on this topic again, but alas, it appears that a post that covers juvenile sexual offenders would be helpful to the general public. I’m glad people are eager for this information, because there is a lot of misinformation going around right now. I hope that the information and resources here will put minds at rest and abate some fears, as well as bring hope for a future without abuse.
- Being a sexual offender is not the same as being sexually curious or sexually acting out. Curiosity is normal, sexually acting out is a result of something else (it can even be a result of violence, other abuse or neglect, etc.), and sexually offending means you are repeatedly doing this, knowing that it’s wrong (these aren’t the scientific definitions–look them up to learn the differences).
- Children who offend are different than adults who offend. The police, courts, and programs understand this. You don’t need to worry that by seeking out legal or professional help, that your child is going to be sent to prison. That’s not how it works. (See “Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending…”)
- There are treatment programs available for child offenders to help them act safely in the community and at home. These aren’t “jails”. They are programs, and precautions are taken to make sure your child isn’t going to “learn” from another offender. Again, this isn’t prison. In fact, the research shows that a community/home based approach is effective (http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/04/24/12559/new-therapy-proves-effective-juvenile-sex-offenders)
- Many child sexual offenders will not continue to offend. Hallelujah! Again, they aren’t little adults. (See “Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending…”)
If your child, or a child you know, is acting in a sexually abusive way towards others, you need to take action and get help for that child (and also the victims). Here are some resources to get you started:
- Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending Behavior: Emerging Research, Treatment Approaches and Management Practices This article explains the characteristics, typology, treatment research, justice trends, intervention research and models, abuser assessment, treatment, and recommendations for practice (READ THE RECOMMENDATIONS).
- Sex Offender Treatment Services PASS Program: http://www.nyap.org/sex-offender-treatment-service/4576110432. This is for youth, and is done while they are at home or in therapeutic foster care. It works with the youth, the families, and others involved. It’s a treatment team approach, which all treatment is in these situations.
- The Marsh Foundation has an example of a inpatient treatment program for male child/teenage offenders. Even though the child stays on site for generally 6-12 months to complete the program, the family must take part in the program and completion is influenced by the home and family environment.
- Your local social service/law enforcement agency are who will have the resources you need. They are not going to look at your child with disgust, but instead will be compassionate and will understand your outcry for help. Your child has to be brave enough to receive treatment, and you have to be brave enough to get it for them. Check for local support groups for parents of juvenile sexual offenders, and check out this Handbook for Parents and Caregivers of juvenile sexual offenders.
Above all else, remember that there is always, always hope. The best days are yet to come.
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