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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78737 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Sex Offender - Questionable Labelling
Journal: Medical Trial Technique Quarterly  Dated:(1979)  Pages:1-7
Author(s): L Margolin
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Definitional issues concerning the term sex offender are examined, and sexual problems of youths committed to a Nebraska State Hospital are described to illustrate the wide range of behaviors that are inappropriately grouped as sex offenses.
Abstract: Considerable ambiguity exists over what is and what is not sexual. For example, a teenager who runs away from home and supports herself by prostitution may be identified as a sex offender or a runaway. Definitions of sex offenses encounter problems because society is composed of subcultures and interest groups with different sexual mores. Using legal conviction as a criterion for sex offenders is unrealistic because most sex offenses go unreported and laws pertaining to sexual behavior are constantly changing. The meaning of sex offender becomes more elusive when applied to juvenile behavior, because juvenile statutes permit considerable latitude in interpreting delinquent behavior and legal conviction for a sex crime is rarely an issue in the treatment-oriented juvenile court. Sex offenses are not reported because victims are stigmatized and abusers are often members of a victim's family. Moreover, rules of evidence require greater corroboration in the prosecution of sex crimes than in other offenses, and plea bargaining is common. The records of 44 youths charged with sexual misconduct and committed to the Lincoln Regional Center, Adolescent Unit over a 1 year period are reviewed. Of this group, 25 were classified as noncoercive, while the remainder had used physical force or coerced a younger peer through manipulation or bribery. Most of the 18 girls had records of promiscuity or prostitution. The boys had engaged in a variety of behaviors, including sexual relations with younger children, writing sexual graffiti, dressing in women's clothing, exposing themselves in public, and killing a victim in response to a sexually motivated fantasy. To group this diverse assortment of behaviors under the heading sex offender makes little sense and contributes nothing to the youths' diagnosis or treatment. A bibliography of 5 references is provided.
Index Term(s): Juvenile prostitution; Juvenile Sex Offenders; Sex offenses
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