Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 491–505 | Cite as

‘He Wasn’t Falling Apart … We were Falling Apart’ Understanding the Mental Health Impacts on Parents of Youth Who Sexually Offend

  • Elisa RomanoEmail author
  • Christine Gervais
Original Article


Youth sexual offending is a serious societal concern that impacts the well-being of multiple individuals, including caregivers. The current study used a mixed-methods design to examine the mental health consequences to parents of youth who have committed a sexual offence. Semi-structured interviews and self-report questionnaires were employed with 16 parents from 10 families in Canada. Seven themes emerged from our quantitative and qualitative analyses: immediate emotional impacts; perceived stress; mood difficulties; hopelessness; and coping strategies (avoidance, problem solving, social support). We also examined ongoing parenting challenges in addressing the repercussions of the offending behavior, as well as parents’ hopes for the future of their family. Overall, findings point to the necessity of providing intervention services to parents not only to help them meet the needs of sexual offending-affected children but also to ensure their well-being so that they are able to more effectively advocate for the children in their care.


Youth Sexual offending Parent Mental health Well-being 



We thank the parents who participated in the study and the hospital-based social worker who helped with the development of our interview guide and with participant recruitment. We also wish to thank the research assistants (Matthew Johnston, Leslie Guldimann, Serenna Dastouri, Marshneil Vaz, Elena Gallitto, and Lyzon Babchishin). We also acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic at the outset of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of CriminologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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