The Influence of a Juvenile's Abuse History on Support for Sex Offender Registration

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, DOI/10.1037/law0000028, 2015

Posted: 16 Jul 2018

See all articles by Margaret Stevenson

Margaret Stevenson

University of Evansville

Cynthia Najdowski

University at Albany, State University of New York

Jessica M. Salerno

Arizona State University

Tisha Wiley

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Bette Bottoms

University of Illinois at Chicago

Katlyn Farnum

College of Saint Rose

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

We investigated whether and how a juvenile’s history of experiencing sexual abuse affects public perceptions of juvenile sex offenders in a series of 5 studies. When asked about juvenile sex offenders in an abstract manner (Studies 1 and 2), the more participants (community members and undergraduates) believed that a history of being sexually abused as a child causes later sexually abusive behavior, the less likely they were to support sex offender registration for juveniles. Yet when participants considered specific sexual offenses, a juvenile’s history of sexual abuse was not considered to be a mitigating factor. This was true when participants considered a severe sexual offense (forced rape; Study 3 and Study 4) and a case involving less severe sexual offenses (i.e., statutory rape), when a juvenile’s history of sexual abuse backfired and was used as an aggravating factor, increasing support for registering the offender (Study 3 and Study 5). Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Keywords: child sexual abuse, juvenile sex offending, legal decision making, attributions, public policy

Suggested Citation

Stevenson, Margaret and Najdowski, Cynthia and Salerno, Jessica M. and Wiley, Tisha and Bottoms, Bette and Farnum, Katlyn, The Influence of a Juvenile's Abuse History on Support for Sex Offender Registration (2015). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, DOI/10.1037/law0000028, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3198827

Margaret Stevenson

University of Evansville ( email )

Evansville, IN 47722
United States

Cynthia Najdowski (Contact Author)

University at Albany, State University of New York ( email )

1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
United States
518-591-8786 (Phone)

Jessica M. Salerno

Arizona State University ( email )

4701 W Thunderbird Rd (MC 3051)
Glendale, AZ 85034
United States

Tisha Wiley

National Institutes of Health (NIH) ( email )

9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
United States

Bette Bottoms

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Katlyn Farnum

College of Saint Rose ( email )

United States

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