From Sin to Syndrome: The Medicatlization of Juvenile Sex Offense

Lisa Pasko, University of Hawaii at Manoa

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the development of juvenile sexual perpetration as a treatable, medical condition. This paper employs the deviance model set forth by Conrad and Schneider, whereby a behavior comes to be defined as deviant through the process of "medicalization." The five-stage sequential model for medicalization involves: (1) the definition of the behavior as deviant; (2) the discover of new medical findings; (3) engagement of claims-making by medical and nommedical interests; (4) legitimacy; and (5) institutionalization of the medical deviance designation (Conrad and Schneider 1980). Through an investigation of adolescent sex crime trends and a content analysis of existing juvenile sex offender literature, this research theoretically expands the medicalization model. This paper explores the social forces and historical processes involved in the evolution of juvenile sexual perpetration as 1) a nuisance behavior, 2) an identifiable criminal activity, and finally, 3) a medical condition requiring treatment. Lastly, this research assesses the individual consequences and social impact of identification and medicalization of "deviant" juvenile sexual activity.

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Updated 05/20/2006