The Root Causes Of Sexual Offending: Social Learning Theory

1486 words - 6 pages

Many etiological theories exist attempting to explain the root causes of sexual offending. Although few provide substantial evidence and no definitive conclusions have been made, the social learning theory has been proposed to account for sex offending behaviors. Specifically, the social learning theory, or victim-to-victimizer theory, suggests sexually abused children learn these behaviors and are much more likely to perpetrate abuse when they’re older (Seto & Lalumiere, 2010). The following studies have provided substantial support for the social learning etiology. Through the use of a meta-analysis, Seto and Lalumiere (2010) concluded that sexual offending is tied to prior sexual abuse. Burton, Miller, and Shill (2002) discovered significant differences between sexual offending and nonsexual offending adolescents in the areas of sexual abuse. Lastly, Burton (2003) determined that sex offender’s methods of abuse mimicked that which was done to them. The introduction, method, results, and discussion of each study is addressed and the link between prior sexual abuse and future sex offending behaviors become apparent.
Many resources go into the prevention and management of sex offenders. However, very few effective programs exist that decrease the likelihood of reoffending. Through the use of meta-analyses, Seto and Lalumiere (2010) evaluated multiple studies that examined sex offenders. Emphasis was put on etiological explanations in the hopes of identifying factors associated with sex offending. Seto and Lalumiere’s (2010) findings help in creating effective programs to decrease recidivism rates.
Seto and Lalumiere (2010) searched numerous databases and collected 59 studies conducted between 1975 and 2008 that had examined adolescent males who had committed sexual offenses and those who had not. Seto analyzed pertinent variables such as childhood abuse, antisocial tendencies, and family problems. From each study an effect size was calculated for each variable and then analyzed.
Seto and Lalumiere (2010) successfully identified factors that were more often associated with sexual offending as opposed to nonsexual offending. Specifically, Seto found that sexual abuse had the second largest effect size (d =.62) of the variables influencing sexual offending. Atypical sexual interests produced the highest effect size with .67. Criminal history, antisocial associations, and substance abuse effect sizes followed.
Seto and Lalumiere’s (2010) findings suggest a link between previous sexual abuse and future sexual offending. Sex offenders had a much higher rate of abuse compared to the nonsexual offenders. Although atypical sexual interests had a stronger effect size, Seto hypothesized that sexual abuse may lead to the development of atypical interests. The study conducted by Seto and Lalumiere (2010) was very useful to the scientific community. It allowed for the identification of more relevant factors associated with sexual offending. Burton,...

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