Sex Offenders in Lithuania: a Comparison Between the Criminal Risk Factors of Child Molesters and Rapists

Marijus Mitrauskas, Rita Bandzevičienė

Abstract


Sexual abuse of adults and children has profound long-term consequences, including serious emotional, mental health and interpersonal relationship problems for the victims. Assessment, treatment and management of sex offenders are important in order to reduce sexual violence. The treatment, parole and sentencing policy should be influenced by both theoretical consideration and the risk that sex offenders pose to society (Shechory, Ben-David, 2005). Sex offenders constitute a heterogeneous group of individuals who begin abusing for a myriad of reasons. One core distinction in the research is between rapists and child molesters (Robertiello, Terry, 2007). Research showed some level of criminal specialization and distinctive criminal risk factors between rapists and child molesters (Wanklyn et al, 2012).
The main goal of the present study was to determine and compare criminal risk factors between two sex offender groups in Lithuania. The sample of the study (n = 119) was drawn from five correctional institutions. Child molesters (n = 39) and rapists (n = 80) voluntarily took part in the present study. Two risk assessment tools were used in order to determine risk factors: Sexual Violence Risk –20 (SVR-20; Boer et al., 1997) and Static-99 (Hanson, Thornton, 2000). SVR-20 is one of the widely used structured professional judgment risk assessment tools. The studies show good psychometric characteristics and predictive validity of this risk assessment instrument (Rettenberger, Boer, Eher, 2011). Study in Lithuania showed criterion validity of the SVR-20 and interface between total scores and static risk factors for sexual recidivism (Mitrauskas, Čėsnienė, 2011). A structured questionnaire of psychosocial data was used for the purposes of the present study.
The results of the study showed some differences between the criminal risk factors of rapists and child molesters. Rapists have committed more past violent nonsexual offenses than child molesters. They tend to be more criminally versatile as well as choosing different kinds of victims and cause more physical harm. The results also revealed that rapists are younger that child molesters and have less experience living with a life partner. However, child molesters exhibited more psychosocial adjustment problems, i.e. sexual deviance, victimization in childhood, major mental illness, substance abuse problems and relationship problems. Results of the study showed that sexual offenders against children exhibit a high density of sex offenses and an escalation in the frequency and severity of sex offenses. In order to establish prognostic validity of the sex offenders’ risk factors related to criminal recidivism in Lithuanian sex offenders sample, prospective research should be performed.

Keywords


sex offenders; risk factors; child molesters; rapists

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789