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Juvenile Sex Offenders: Explaining the Unexplainable

Molly Seaman
Ohio Northern University

Throughout the past, much research has been done to examine and explain adult sex offenders.  On the other hand, very little research has been conducted to explain what causes a juvenile to become a sexual offender.  By incorporating the research that has been done on juveniles, this paper is designed to use psychological and sociological theories to explain the possible reasons for why a juvenile might become a sex offender.  Many juvenile sex offenders have a history of abuse, of feeling powerless, of not caring about punishment, and a general lack of empathy.  One can explain their behavior through Mead’s theory of the self where the juvenile tends to put more focus on the “I,” rather than the “me” (Mead 1934).  Similarly, using Freud’s theory, one could argue that the juvenile sex offender tends to focus more on his id impulses, rather than on the ego or superego.  Sociologically speaking, the concept of self-efficacy (Gecas 1982) is key to explaining the juvenile sex offender, as is Gottfredson’s and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime. Using these theories, one can argue the lack of self-control a juvenile has could cause the youth to offend, as well as provide possible reasons for this lack of self-control.  

Annual meeting of the Anthologists and Sociologists of Kentucky, Columbia, KY
Psychology and Sociology