Mental Health Treatment of Female Children and Adolescent Sex Offenders  (1997)

Researcher(s):

Project Categories

Principal Investigator:
Ruth McRoy, Ph.D.

Duration: 4/97 – 9/97

The Mental Health Treatment of Female Children and Adolescent Sex Offenders project was funded by the Hogg Foundation in order to develop an understanding of the treatment provided to female juvenile sex offenders with the ultimate goal of developing a typology of young female sex offenders. This was a joint project with the Settlement Home.

Phase one of this study included surveying members of the Sex Offender Treatment Providers of Texas as well as members of the Texas Association of Licensed Children’s Services (TALCS), organizations involved in the education and treatment of female children and adolescent sex offenders. In addition, administrators at Texas Youth Commission, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, and the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services were interviewed. The survey responses revealed no specialized treatment tracts at the Texas residential treatment centers and none of the providers had a well-developed outpatient treatment program for females.

Phase two of the study was made possible through a one year grant from the Hogg Foundation to expand the sample to explore treatment options on a national scope. Individual practitioners listed by the Safer Society Foundation, Inc. as treating female juvenile sex offenders and all members of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers were contacted. Residential treatment facilities, Texas State Schools, and Texas State Hospitals obtained from the Joint Commission of the Accreditation of Hospitals and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation in nearly every state were surveyed. Respondents represented nearly every state in the nation. In total 336 individuals and 74 residential treatment centers completed the survey.

In-depth qualitative follow-up interviews were held with 13 individual respondents from phase two who reported working with a relatively high number of female children and/or adolescent sex offenders.

FINDINGS:

Though most clinicians only reported seeing one or two juvenile female sex offenders a year many respondents reported that the incidence of female juvenile sex offenders was increasing (50%) or staying the same (37%).

Respondents reported most female and male juvenile sex offenders were victims of abuse. Most clinicians learned of previous victimization of the female sex offenders through client report, Child Protective Services, or a family member. Respondents reported that they differentiated abuse from exploration by considering age differential, power differential, the presence of coercion, and cognitive differences between the victim and perpetrator.

Many respondents felt that juvenile male and female perpetrators of sexual abuse shared many similar characteristics and they reported using similar treatment approaches with both groups. By far the most commonly used model was Cognitive Behavioral therapy.

A summary of findings has been disseminated to the respondents and a journal article is being prepared.

Sponsor:
Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Keywords: health care