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Assessment of Risk for Sexual Reoffense in Juveniles Who Commit Sexual Offenses

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2015
6 pages
This Research Brief summarizes what is scientifically known about risk assessment for juveniles who commit sexual offenses and identifies policy implications, knowledge gaps, and unresolved controversies in existing research that require additional study.
The summary of research findings is divided into the following sections: methods of assessing risk for juveniles who commit sexual offenses; risk factors for juvenile sexual offending; juvenile risk assessment instruments; risk factors for juvenile sexual offending; and protective factors in assessments of juvenile risk. Another section of the brief discusses research limitations and future needs. The research shows that sound risk assessment for the recidivism of juvenile sexual offenders requires evaluators to be well-trained. It is not sufficient to rely only on risk scores when making decisions about a juvenile offender's risk of recidivism. There is a need for federally funded training and technical assistance that develops well-trained evaluators who understand the features of the risk-assessment process and the limitations of assessment instruments currently available. The research indicates that risk-assessment instruments must be integrated into a comprehensive assessment process that produces a thorough understanding of the juvenile being assessed. Assessment results must then be applied in planning the features of case management and treatment. The role of risk assessment instruments is important in identifying the presence of dynamic risk factors that can be targeted for treatment, as well as the presence of protective factors and their potentially mitigating effects on risk. This brief recommends that protective factors be incorporated into juvenile risk assessment instruments. Future research should expand the knowledge base on both risk and protective factors, including the mechanisms through which these factors influence reoffending. 31 references

Date Published: July 1, 2015