Abstract

This study uses data from the Second Philadelphia Birth Cohort to examine the natural history of sex offenders and their involvement in sexual offending through age 26. Several key findings emerged from our effort. First, only one in 10 of the 221 male and female juvenile sex offenders had a sex-related offense during the first eight years of adulthood. Second, 92 percent of all the cohort males with adult sex records had no prior juvenile sex offense. Third, a boy with no sex contacts but five or more total juvenile police contacts was more than twice as likely to commit a sex crime as an adult as a juvenile sex offender with fewer than five total police contacts. Fourth, multinomial logistic regression results demonstrated that being a juvenile sex offender did not significantly increase the likelihood for an individual being an adult sex offender, nor did the frequency of juvenile sex offending. In short, the assumptions underpinning current registration and notification laws are fraught with problems and should be re-considered.

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