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Effectiveness of Sexual Offender Treatment for Juveniles as Measured by Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis

NCJ Number
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment Volume: 18 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2006 Pages: 401-421
Lorraine R. Reitzel; Joyce L. Carbonell
Date Published
October 2006
21 pages
This study drew on published and unpublished treatment and recidivism data to examine the effectiveness of sexual offender treatment for juveniles.
Study results indicated a statistically significant effect of sexual offender treatment on juvenile sexual recidivism. Specifically, the sexual recidivism rate of the total sample was 12.5 percent. Rates of sexual recidivism for juvenile sexual offenders were lower than their rates of non-sexual recidivism, which ranged from 20.4 percent to 28.5 percent. These results are consistent with previous research on adult sexual offenders. The authors note that the results should be viewed cautiously due to the characteristics of the individual studies included in the analysis. In particular, the authors note important methodological questions about the handling of treatment dropouts and different follow-up periods within the datasets examined for this analysis. The meta-analysis research method involved computer searches for relevant data published between 1975 and early 2003, which was conducted in several social science and criminal justice databases. Unpublished data on recidivism and treatment outcomes were gathered from over 300 residential and community treatment programs, which were identified through Internet searches, professional organizations, and a mailing list provided by the Safer Society Press. A total of nine published and unpublished studies were identified and included in the analysis. The studies were then coded according to three primary categories: sample descriptors, treatment variables, and recidivism variables. Coding reliability was examined using Cohen’s Kappa and treatment and recidivism outcomes were examined using linear regression models. Future studies should examine differences between the sexual recidivism rates of juveniles versus adults who receive treatment using larger samples and longer follow-up periods. Tables, footnotes, appendix, references