The historical development of treatment for adolescent sex offenders


The number of adolescents who are sex offenders is unknown. Adolescents who commit sex offences are not always prosecuted, nor necessarily treated. Research has demonstrated that many patterns of sexual offending often begin in adolescence and, in some cases, show a progression to more serious sexual assault as adults.

In November 1999, the Australian Institute of Criminology published a paper demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of intensive “in-prison” sex offender treatment programs (Trends and Issues, no. 134), but much greater savings (in both money and emotional costs) can be achieved through treatment of adolescent sex offenders.

A common reaction to sex offenders is to seek punishment because the pain and trauma for victims is so severe, but early intervention yields greater results. This paper examines approaches to treatment and shows how different approaches can prevent further offending by identified offenders.