This article discusses efforts to develop and validate an actuarial risk assessment protocol for juvenile sex offenders.
Efforts to develop an actuarial risk assessment protocol were based on work with a sample of 96 adolescents who had been admitted, treated and discharged from the Joseph J. Peters Institute in Philadelphia, Pa. Risk assessment variables were rationally selected after reviews of the literature in five areas: (1) clinical and etiological studies of juvenile sex offenders; (2) studies on risk assessment with juvenile sex offenders; (3) risk assessment/outcome for adult sex offenders; (4) general juvenile delinquency risk factors and outcome; and (5) risk prediction for mixed populations of adult criminals. Two special problems posed obstacles for risk assessment. First was the base rate for recidivism in juvenile sex offenders. Many juvenile offenders may desist until adulthood and thus are not accounted for as juvenile recidivists. Also, there was greater difficulty accessing sensitive records for juveniles and a greater degree of underreporting among juvenile victims. Second was the difficulty differentiating between age-appropriate and age-inappropriate sexual preferences for juvenile sex offenders. Tables, references, appendix