This study prospectively followed 135 children 5-12 years of age with problematic sexual behavior, using a randomized trial that compared a 12-session group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with group play therapy, and the study also followed 156 general clinic children with nonsexual behavioral problems.
Ten-year follow-up data on future juvenile and adult arrests and child welfare perpetration reports were collected. The CBT group had significantly fewer future sex offenses than the play therapy group (2 percent vs. 10 percent) and did not differ from the general clinic comparison (3 percent), supporting the use of short-term CBT. There were no group differences in nonsexual offenses (21 percent). The findings do not support assumptions about persistent problematic sexual behavior or the risk for sexual behavior that is difficult to modify. This study raises questions about policies and practices founded on this assumption. (publisher abstract modified)