Residential treatment for sexually abusive youth
Jones, Christopher David
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Throughout history social workers have been involved in efforts to address the problem of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, continues to be a significant social problem in the United States. To appropriately address this problem and prevent future occurrences of child sexual abuse, effective treatment for the individuals who commit these crimes must be developed. Juveniles commit approximately 20% of the sexual offenses—including those against children—that occur in the United States. This research study explores the impact of participation in a residential treatment program on the change in function impairments, inappropriate sexual behaviors, and sexual interest among sexually abusive youth. In addition, this study examines the role of risk factors in predicting both intake scores and the change in scores for these youth. A longitudinal study was conducted using the archival records of the residential treatment program. Analyses were conducted examining pre-test and post-test scores for the youth who participated in the program. The sample consisted of 61 male and female youth between the ages of 9 and 18. The average age of these youth at intake was 12 years old. The majority of the sample were male (79%) and White (59%). The average length of stay for youth who participated in this program was 30 months. Overall, the results of the study indicate a significant change from pre-test to post-test on the majority of the outcome variables. This study found that this treatment program is effective at reducing the level of functional impairments, reducing the level of inappropriate sexual behaviors, reducing deviant sexual interests, and increasing appropriate sexual interests among sexually aggressive youth. In addition, this study found that risk factors appear to be useful in predicting pre-test scores for the outcome variables as well as useful in predicting change in the sexual interest variables. In particular, risk factors related to social functioning (academic achievement, mental health history, and criminal history) appeared to be most useful in predicting levels of functional impairments and sexual interest.