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20 February 2002
Different Treatments For Teen Sex Offenders
by George Atkinson

Treatment for juvenile sexual offenders should take into account their involvement in other crimes, says a new study.

Adolescents who commit only sexual offences may benefit more from interventions focusing on sexual interests and behaviour, say Professors Michael Seto of U of T's psychiatry and criminology departments and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Stephen Butler of University College London. Those who commit sexual as well as other crimes may be more likely to benefit from treatment targeting general delinquency.

"Our study suggests there are different pathways to juvenile sexual offending - one that is more typically delinquent and another that might be explained by unusual sexual interests or some other risk factor," Seto says.

Seto and Butler studied 114 adolescent male offenders referred to a family court clinic in Toronto for mental health assessments between 1994 and 1997. The juveniles were divided into two groups: those with only sexual offences and those who also committed other crimes. They found the first group had fewer childhood conduct problems, better current behaviour, more pro-social attitudes and a lower expected risk of re-offending than those who committed sexual and other offences.

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