It is prepared for members of the public who want to know more about sexual assault, sex offenders, and the role that citizens can play in keeping their communities safe. What Is Sexual Abuse? Sex crimes can involve physical contact e. How Common Are Sex Crimes? Sex crimes are unfortunately fairly common in the United States. It is estimated that one in every five girls and one in every seven boys are sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood.
One in six adult women and one in 33 adult men experience an attempted or completed sexual assault. In , the last year for which official report data were available, there were 26, arrests for forcible rape and 90, arrests for other sex offenses in the United States. Are All Sex Crimes Reported? Many victims do not report sexual abuse to authorities because they: This means that there are both victims and offenders in the community who have not come to the attention of the authorities.
Who Are the Victims? Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, but women and girls are especially at risk. Females are more than six times as likely as males to be victims of sexual assault. Children are particularly vulnerable. Approximately one in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Who Are Offenders Likely to Target? Most sexual offenses are committed by someone the victim knows — either a family member, friend, intimate partner, or acquaintance.
Who Are Sex Offenders? The reasons why they offend, the kinds of interventions required to help them stop offending, and the risks they pose also vary. Not necessarily — some people who commit sex offenses have been victims of sexual abuse themselves, but many have not. Being sexually abused does not cause people to become sex offenders. In fact, most people who have been sexually abused do not go on to sexually abuse others.
What Happens to Convicted Sex Offenders? Some offenders are sentenced to prison or jail, while others are sentenced directly to community supervision e. For those sentenced to prison or jail, some are released on parole or probation supervision while others are released with no supervision. Approximately , adult sex offenders are currently in state and federal prisons throughout the United States.
Between 10, and 20, are released to the community each year. When sex offenders do commit another crime, it is more often not sexual or violent. The figures given may be low because sex offenses are often not reported. Some offenders are more likely to reoffend than others. Professionals use science-based assessments to estimate the likelihood that someone may reoffend, though these assessments are not guarantees.
The majority of convicted sex offenders reside in our communities. With proper treatment and supervision, many can live productive and stable lives. If offenders are at risk for reoffending or do not comply with their release conditions, they may be returned to confinement.
The following strategies are being used in managing sex offenders who are under community supervision. Providing Specialized Supervision Convicted sex offenders may be sentenced to probation or parole as a result of a sexual offense, or they may be placed on probation or parole supervision after they have been in prison, jail, or detention. This means that for a period of time which varies by jurisdiction , offenders report to a supervising officer and must follow specific rules and conditions that limit their behavior.
They often include but are not limited to: Using Surveillance In some instances, electronic technologies such as electronic monitoring or GPS devices help monitor sex offenders while under supervision. Because these technologies are quite expensive and some studies suggest they are most effective with higher-risk offenders, these surveillance techniques may be best used with only the highest-risk or violent sex offenders.
Providing Specialized Treatment Sex offender treatment can reduce the risk of reoffending. The most effective type of treatment approach involves helping offenders change unhealthy thinking patterns, understand factors that are linked to their offending, and develop effective coping skills.
For certain offenders, medications, such as those that reduce testosterone, can also be helpful when they are combined with sex offender-specific treatment. Treatment may be more effective when it is combined with specialized supervision. Helping Offenders Deal with Challenges Following Release from Prison When reentering the community, sex offenders may face many challenges that can cause their lives to be unstable, including: This instability can put them at greater risk to reoffend; therefore, working with offenders to deal with these challenges is crucial to their ability to live crime-free lives.
Ensuring Offenders Have Suitable Housing One of the most serious problems that sex offenders face is finding an appropriate place to live. Understanding Residency Restrictions Sex offenders who are under community supervision must have their residence approved by their supervising officers to ensure that it is suitable, while sex offenders who are not under community supervision do not have the same restrictions, unless they live in an area with residency restrictions. Most states have laws that prohibit sex offenders — whether on community supervision or not and whether their crimes involve children or not — from living within 1, to 2, feet feet in some states of places where children gather, such as schools and childcare facilities, parks, playgrounds, churches, gyms, swimming pools, libraries, and school bus stops.
No research has shown that these restrictions lead to a decrease in sexual reoffending. On the other hand, professionals are concerned that laws that banish or restrict housing options for offenders may eliminate the stability and support that offenders need to be successful in the community.
Before beginning this process, professionals must determine if the benefits of reuniting outweigh the possible risks to past or potential victims.
Helping Offenders Find a Suitable Job It is especially important for sex offenders to find appropriate jobs because offenders without stable employment are at a higher risk of reoffending. Finding suitable employment is a challenge for all offenders who are reentering the community, but it can be particularly difficult for sex offenders.
Community supervision staff typically review and approve employment to make sure that it is suitable. In many instances, they stay in contact with employers or use other means to ensure that offenders are maintaining suitable employment.
Sex offender registration is designed to help law enforcement investigate new sex crimes. Law enforcement agencies keep identifying information about convicted sex offenders, such as their names, addresses, photographs, and crimes for which they were convicted. The length of time an offender is required to register varies by jurisdiction e. Recent federal legislation created a national sex offender registry that is intended to assure that all states collect and maintain the same information on convicted sex offenders and provides a single Web site where citizens can find information about registered sex offenders.
What Is Community Notification? Community notification provides community members access to information about convicted sex offenders. In some cases, community members have to look for the information on their own, for example, on their state registry Web site.
In other cases, law enforcement or others inform community members that a sex offender is moving into the area. How communities are notified and who in the community is notified often depend on the level of risk that an offender presents. Juveniles who commit sex offenses are not just younger versions of adult sex offenders. They differ in fundamental ways, including how likely they are to reoffend. These differences affect how law enforcement and other professionals manage juveniles to reduce their rate of reoffense.
Each year, there are approximately 2, arrests of juveniles for forcible rape and an estimated 9, arrests of juveniles for other types of sex offenses. Victims are often reluctant to come forward, so the actual number of juveniles committing sexual assault may be higher. Exposure to physical or sexual violence in the home or community, to particularly aggressive male role models, and to pornography especially material that is very graphic and violent can be associated with sexually abusive behaviors among youth.
Juvenile sex offenders appear to respond better to treatment and reoffend less frequently than adult sex offenders. In addition, if juvenile sex offenders reoffend, they are far more likely to engage in other types of delinquent behavior than to commit new sex crimes.
In some cases, yes. Placing juvenile sex offenders in custody does not necessarily reduce offending over time. In fact, it can actually increase the likelihood of reoffense as youth who live with other delinquent or troubled juveniles may teach one another how to be even more serious young criminals .
Many juvenile sex offenders can be safely managed in the community with specialized supervision and treatment. Many juveniles who come to the attention of law enforcement for committing sex offenses do not commit more crimes, even if they do not receive treatment. However, juvenile sex offenders who do receive treatment have lower rates of reoffense for both sexual and non-sexual crimes.
Community supervision probation or parole supervision can help ensure that youth behave appropriately in the community, and participate in treatment. Supervision also allows trained officers or case managers to provide support to and work closely with parents, school personnel, and others who are responsible for juvenile offenders.
Many states have laws regarding registration and community notification that apply to juveniles. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, passed by the United States Congress in , requires that selected but not all juvenile sex offenders register periodically with law enforcement and that some data about these youth be posted on the Internet.
Like with adult sex offenders, there has been very limited research to date on whether juvenile registration and notification can help reduce reoffending and enhance public safety. For Additional Information and Resources CSOM has developed a variety of publications that address in greater depth the range of issues identified in this fact sheet. These documents — along with a number of other tools that have been developed by professionals in the field to aid communities in their efforts to protect themselves and their families and to become a part of the solution to reduce victimization through the effective management of sex offenders — can be found at www.
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