Symposium theme: Three papers will be presented investigating adverse childhood experiences, cumulative trauma, life stressors, and attachment among adolescent and older sex offenders. In the first paper, using the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) measure, higher ACE scores were found for those sex offenders with male victims, stranger victims, victims under 12 years old, and for those offenders who had used force, weapons, or caused injury during the commission of a sex crime (p < .001). In the second paper, differences in trauma and coping among sex offenders were found, non-recidivists had higher coping scores on the social and physical coping scales of the Coping Resources Inventory (CRI) (p=.04) and recidivists had much higher mean life stressor scale scores (p<.001). In the third paper investigating differences in attachment impairments between sexually abusive youth from their counterparts, statistically significant differences were found on individual subscales of the Inventory of Peer and Parental Attachment (IPPA) including mother trust (t=3.52, p<.001) and father overall attachment (t=1.98, p<.05), with sexual offenders showing greater problems with attachments with parents than youth with non-sexual offenses. Additionally, among sexually abusive youth alienation from an adolescent’s father and trust with mother significantly predicted delinquency (p<.001).
Implications: This findings from the research presented in this symposium underscore the importance of social workers developing competencies in trauma-informed practice, given the link between developmental trauma and sexual offending. Additionally, using primary prevention treatment strategies that address coping, impairments in attachment, and life stressors, rather than punitive approaches, can address community safety issues and prevent recidivism.