Personality-Based Typology of Adolescent Male Sexual Offenders: Differences in Recidivism Rates, Victim-Selection Characteristics, and Personal Victimization Histories

  • James R. WorlingEmail author


California Psychological Inventory scores from 112 adolescent male sexual offenders aged 12–19 (M = 15.59, SD = 1.46) were examined. A cluster analysis of factor-derived scores revealed four personality-based subgroups: Antisocial/Impulsive, Unusual/Isolated, Overcontrolled/Reserved, and Confident/Aggressive. Significant differences were observed between groups regarding history of physical abuse, parental marital status, residence of the offenders, and whether or not offenders received criminal charges for their index sexual assaults. Subgroup membership was unrelated to victim age, victim gender, and offenders' history of sexual victimization. Recidivism data (criminal charges) were collected for a period ranging from 2 to 10 years (M = 6.23, SD = 2.02). Offenders in the two more pathological groups (Antisocial/Impulsive and Unusual/Isolated) were most likely to be charged with a subsequent violent (sexual or nonsexual) or nonviolent offense. The four-group typology based solely on personality functioning is remarkably similar to that found by W. R. Smith, C. Monastersky, and R. M. Deisher in 1987 from their cluster analysis of MMPI scores. In addition to implications for risk prediction, the present typology is suggestive of differential etiological pathways and treatment needs.

adolescent sexual offenders offender typology personality recidivism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. (1997, November). Position on the effective legal management of juvenile sexual offenders. Beaverton, OR: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Awad, G. A., & Saunders, E. B. (1991). Male adolescent sexual assaulters: Clinical observations. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 6, 446-460.Google Scholar
  3. Becker, J. V. (1998). What we know about the characteristics and treatment of adolescents who have committed sexual offenses. Child Maltreatment, 3, 317-329.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, A. M., Knutson, J. F., Mehm, J. G., & Perkins, K. A. (1988). The self-report of punitive childhood experiences of young adults and adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 12, 251-262.Google Scholar
  5. Blishen, B. R., & Carroll, W. K. (1978). Sex differences in a socioeconomic index for occupations in Canada. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 15, 352-371.Google Scholar
  6. Blishen, B. R., & McRoberts, H. A. (1976). A revised socioeconomic index for occupations in Canada. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 13, 71-79.Google Scholar
  7. Bower, M. E.,& Knutson, J. F. (1996). Attitudes toward physical discipline as a function of disciplinary history and self-labeling as physically abused. Child Abuse & Neglect, 20, 689.Google Scholar
  8. Carpenter, D. R., Peed, S. F., & Eastman, B. (1995). Personality characteristics of adolescent sexual offenders: A pilot study. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 7, 195-203.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, J. A., Berliner, L., & Manarino, A. P. (2000). Treating traumatized children: A research review and synthesis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 1, 29-46.Google Scholar
  10. Cooper, C. L., Murphy, W. D., & Haynes, M. R. (1996). Characteristics of abused and nonabused adolescent sexual offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 8, 105-120.Google Scholar
  11. Davis, G. E.,& Leitenberg, H. (1987). Adolescent sex offenders. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 417-427.Google Scholar
  12. Deisher, R. W., Wenet, G. A., Paperny, D. M., Clark, T. F., & Fehrenbach, P. A. (1982). Adolescent sexual offense behavior: The role of the physician. Journal of Adolescent Health Care, 2, 279-286.Google Scholar
  13. Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Valente, E. (1995). Social information-processing patterns partially mediate the effect of early physical abuse on later conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 632-643.Google Scholar
  14. Elkins, I. J., Iacono, W. G., Doyle, A. E., & McGue, M. (1997). Characteristics associated with the persistence of antisocial behavior: Results from recent longitudinal research. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 2, 101-124.Google Scholar
  15. Fergusson, D. M., & Lynskey, M. T. (1997). Physical punishment/maltreatment during childhood and adjustment in young adulthood. Child Abuse & Neglect, 21, 617-630.Google Scholar
  16. Firestone, P., Bradford, J. M., McCoy, M., Greenberg, D. M., Larose, M. R., & Curry, S. (1999). Prediction of recidivism in incest offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 511-531.Google Scholar
  17. Ford, M. E., & Linney, J. A. (1995). Comparative analysis of juvenile sexual offenders, violent nonsexual offenders, and status offenders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 56-70.Google Scholar
  18. France, K. G., & Hudson, S. M. (1993). The conduct disorders and the juvenile sex offender. In H. E. Barbaree, W. L. Marshall, & S. M. Hudson (Eds.), The juvenile sex offender (pp. 225-234). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  19. Goldstein, A. P., & McGinnis, E. (1997). Skillstreaming the adolescent (Revised Edition): New strategies and perspectives for teaching prosocial skills. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gough, H. G. (1987). California Psychological Inventory: Administrator's guide. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  21. Greenhouse, J. B., Stangl, D., & Bromberg, J. (1989). An introduction to survival analysis: Statistical methods for analysis of clinical trial data. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 536-544.Google Scholar
  22. Hagan, M. P.,& Cho, M. E. (1996). Acomparison of treatment outcomes between adolescent rapists and child sexual offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 40, 113-122.Google Scholar
  23. Hair, J. F., & Black, W. C. (2000). Cluster analysis. In L. G. Grimm, & P. R. Yarnold(Eds.), Reading and understanding more multivariate statistics (pp. 147-205). Washington, DC: AmericanGoogle Scholar
  24. Psychological Association. Hsu, L. K. G., & Starzynski, J. (1990). Adolescent rapists and adolescent child sexual assaulters. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 34, 23-30.Google Scholar
  25. Hunter, J. A., Jr., & Lexier, L. J. (1998). Ethical and legal issues in the assessment and treatment of juvenile sex offenders. Child Maltreatment, 3, 339-348.Google Scholar
  26. Katz, R. C. (1990). Psychosocial adjustment in adolescent child molesters. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14, 567-575.Google Scholar
  27. Kaufman, K. L., Hilliker, D. R., & Daleiden, E. L. (1996). Subgroup differences in the modus operandi of adolescent sexual offenders. Child Maltreatment, 1, 17-24.Google Scholar
  28. Kaplan, E. L., & Meier, P. (1958). Nonparametric estimation from incomplete observations. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 53, 457-481.Google Scholar
  29. Lawrence, K. J., Cozolino, L., & Foy, D.W. (1995). Psychological sequelae in adult females reporting childhood ritualistic abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 19, 975-984.Google Scholar
  30. Lipsey, M. W. (1998). What do we learn from 400 research studies on the effectiveness of treatment with juvenile delinquents? In J. McGuire (Ed.), What works: Reducing reoffending-guidelines from research and practice (pp. 63-77). London: Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  31. Loeber, R. (1990). Development and risk factors of juvenile antisocial behavior and delinquency. Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 1041.Google Scholar
  32. Mantel, N. (1966). Evaluation of survival data and two new rank order statistics arising in its consideration. Cancer Chemotherapy Report, 50, 163-170.Google Scholar
  33. O'Brien, M. J. (1991). Taking sibling incest seriously. In M. Q. Patton (Ed.), Family sexual abuse: Frontline research and evaluation (pp. 75-92). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  34. O'Brien, M. J., & Bera, W. H. (1986). Adolescent sexual offenders: A descriptive typology. Preventing Sexual Abuse, 1, 1-4.Google Scholar
  35. Proulx, J., Pellerin, B., Paradis, Y., McKibben, A., Aubut, J., & Ouimet, M. (1997). Static and dynamic predictors of recidivism in sexual aggressors. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 9, 7-27.Google Scholar
  36. Rice, M. E., Quinsey, V. L., & Harris, G. T. (1991). Sexual recidivism among child molesters released from a maximum security psychiatric institution. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 381-386.Google Scholar
  37. Richardson, G., Kelly, T. P., Bhate, S. R., & Graham, F. (1997). Group differences in abuser and abuse characteristics in a British sample of sexually abusive adolescents. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 9, 239-257.Google Scholar
  38. Saunders, E. B., Awad, G. A., & White, G. (1986). Male adolescent sexual offenders: The offender and the offense. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 31, 542-549.Google Scholar
  39. Smith, W. R., Monastersky, C.,& Deisher, R.M. (1987). MMPI-based personality types among juvenile sexual offenders. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 422-430.Google Scholar
  40. Stevens, J. (1986). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Wieckowski, E., Hartsoe, P., Mayer, A., & Shortz, J. (1998). Deviant sexual behavior in children and young adolescents: Frequency and patterns. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 10, 293-303.Google Scholar
  42. Worling, J. R. (1995a). Adolescent sex offenders against females: Differences based on the age of their victims. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 39, 276-293.Google Scholar
  43. Worling, J. R. (1995b). Adolescent sibling-incest offenders: Differences in family and individual functioning when compared to nonsibling sex offenders. Child Abuse & Neglect, 19, 633-643.Google Scholar
  44. Worling, J. R. (1995c). Sexual abuse histories of adolescent male sex offenders: Differences based on the age and gender of their victims. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 610-613.Google Scholar
  45. Worling, J. R., & Curwen, T. (2000). Adolescent sexual offender recidivism: Success of specialized treatment and implications for risk prediction. Child Abuse & Neglect, 24, 965-982.Google Scholar
  46. Zaidi, L. Y., Knutson, J. F., & Mehm, J. G. (1989). Transgenerational patterns of abusive parenting: Analog and clinical tests. Aggressive Behavior, 15, 137-152.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sexual Abuse: Family Education & Treatment (SAFE-T) ProgramThistletown Regional Centre for Children & AdolescentsTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations