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Effectiveness of Treatment for Juveniles Who Sexually Offend

NCJ Number
Roger Przybylski
Date Published
July 2015
6 pages
This Research Brief summarizes what is scientifically known about the effectiveness of treatment for juveniles who have sexually offended and identifies policy implications, knowledge gaps, and unresolved controversies in existing research that warrant further study.
The summary of research findings addresses the results of both individual studies and synthesis research (meta-analyses). A separate section of the brief addresses research limitations and research needs. This brief concludes that although there is widespread agreement among researchers that the knowledge base on the effectiveness of treatment for juvenile sexual offenders is far from complete, the weight of evidence from both individual studies and synthesis research conducted during the past 10 years suggests that therapeutic interventions for juveniles who sexually offend can and do work. Rigorous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of multisystemic therapy (MST) in reducing the recidivism of juveniles who commit sexual offenses. MST consists of a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and relapse prevention strategies combined with concurrent group, individual, and family therapy. Recent research on other treatment approaches has also produced positive results. The most effective treatment approaches are developmentally appropriate; take motivational and behavioral diversity into account; and focus on family, peer, and other contextual correlates of a youth's sexually abusive behavior. On the other hand, treatment approaches with a sole focus on individual psychological deficits are less likely to be effective. Treatment approaches should be designed specifically for youth and children with sexually abusive behavioral problems. 1 tables, 16 references, and 10 notes

Date Created: June 18, 2020