Understanding male sexual offending: A comparison of general and specialist theories
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Previous research has explored whether criminological theories can account for the apparently specialized behaviors of sexual offenders. One perspective proposes that criminals are versatile, engaging in an array of antisocial behaviors. The alternative perspective, more common in sexual offendi ng research, is that sexual offenders (especially child molesters) engage in sexual offenses exclusively or predominantly. This study examined 374 male sexual offenders referred for civil commitment. Offenders were compared by crime classification and level of specialization and were assessed on a selection of variables that measured general criminality and sexual deviance. Specialization level was a stronger group discriminator than offender classification. Versatile offenders were significantly more likely than specialist offenders to present with generic antisocial behaviors predicted by traditional criminology. Specialist offenders reported more indicators of sexual deviance than versatile offenders. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Criminal Justice and Behavior
Correctional Theory, Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation