The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Developmental Trajectories to Delinquency, Socioemotional Disturbance, and the Characteristics of Family Environments Among Male Adolescent Sexual Offenders

Thursday, January 17, 2013: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Marina 1 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Symposium Organizer:
George Leibowitz, PhD, University of Vermont
David Burton, PhD, Smith College
Background and significance: Research on delinquency, and particularly on adolescent sexual abusers, is needed to assist in the development of effective interventions implemented by social workers. Reflected in the recidivism studies, researchers have found that adolescent sexual abusers engage in a variety of delinquent behaviors and have arrest histories for nonsexual offenses, including aggressive behavior (e.g., O’Reilly & Carr, 2006). Moreover, among youth in the juvenile justice system with the most persistent patterns of aggression and delinquency, socioemotional disturbance is nearly ubiquitous. Interpersonal callousness and poor recognition of emotion in others, deficits in executive functioning, and lack of emotional regulation have been found to be related both to maltreatment history and to sexual and nonsexual criminal behavior.  Examples of risk and protective factors that mediate the pathways to aggression include characteristics of the family environment.  Our current research seeks to fill gaps in the research on the developmental trajectories to delinquency and socioemotional disturbances among detained youth, given that the increase in risk incurred by specific combinations of these factors is unstudied.   

Symposium theme: In this symposium, we investigate the association among variables that were hypothesized to contribute to sexual and nonsexual crimes committed by residentially-based male sexually abusive youth (N= 536, total sample). Self-report measures used in juvenile justice settings were administered to the youth in a group format. Advanced statistical models were used: hierarchical multiple linear regression, path analysis and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), and latent class analysis to test theoretical models that attempt to explain causal relationships among constructs related to sexual offending.

In the first paper, hierarchical multiple linear regression and path analysis examining models of relevant predictors showed that psychopathic traits were associated both with more offenses and with more serious offenses. In the second paper, controlling for race, age, grade in school and sexual victimization and perpetration histories, linear regressions showed that each aggression subscale and the total score are separately associated with delinquency with high significance (p < .001). In the third paper, latent class analysis (LCA) identified three subtypes based on five indicators (e.g., family criminality) of family social environment: 1) negative family social conditions (23.3%); 2) moderate number of illegal acts, alcohol/drug problems and physical abuse within the family (44.2%) but no children placed outside of home; 3) low problems. Regression analyses suggested that juvenile sexual abusers from the subtype of extremely negative family social conditions are most predictive of delinquency

* noted as presenting author
Socioemotional and Behavioral Disturbance Among Youthful Sexual Offenders: The Role of Callous and Unemotional (CU) Traits
George Leibowitz, PhD, University of Vermont; Timothy Stickle, PhD, University of Vermont; David Burton, PhD, Smith College
Tough Guys and Tough Guise: Subtypes of Aggression Among Youth Sexual Abusers
Adam Brown, MSW, University of Chicago; Kevin Tan, MSW, University of Chicago; David Burton, PhD, Smith College
Juvenile Sexual Abusers: Typologies of Family Social Environment
Kevin Tan, MSW, University of Chicago; Adam Brown, MSW, University of Chicago; David Burton, PhD, Smith College
See more of: Symposia