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Statutory Sex Crime Relationships Between Juveniles and Adults: A Review of Social Scientific Research

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: May-June 2007 Pages: 300-314
Denise A. Hines; David Finkelhor
Date Published
May 2007
15 pages
This paper reviews the social scientific literature about non-forcible, voluntary sexual relationships between adults and juveniles, termed “statutory sex crime relationships” or “statutory relationships.”
In this article the term “statutory relationship” is used to mean a relationship between a juvenile and an adult that is illegal under age of consent statutes, but that does not involve the degree of coercion or manipulation sufficient to qualify as a forcible sex crime. In a review of the literature, the most stereotypical and well-researched statutory relationships, as well as most frequent type, are those involving an adolescent female and an adult male. In an analysis of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data from 21 states during the year 1996 through 2000, there were 7,557 statutory rape incidents reported to law enforcement, with 95 percent involving female victims. Studies have shown that the men in statutory relationships were more likely to have criminal histories, were less likely to have a high school degree, and had a history of poor school performance. In addition, previous research found that adult women who had sexual relationships with adolescent males displayed elevated levels of Schizophrenia and Hypomania on the MMPI. Advocates argue for a variety of programs and policies to discourage young people from becoming involved in such relationships. Statutory sex crime relationships show every indication of being a continuing issue in law enforcement and public policy. It would be of great service to many if there was good social scientific research to help inform opinion and public policy. In addition to discussing the existing research as it relates to prevalence rates of statutory relationships, impact and reactions to statutory relationships and characteristics of adult statutory relationships, this article details a wide range of issues that need more study. References