Violent Sexual Offending

Jennifer K. Grotpeter, University of Colorado at Boulder
Delbert S. Elliott, University of Colorado at Boulder

Most segements of society, particularly law enforcement agencies and clinicians, have long recognized the deleterious effects of the sexual assault of women. To address this, a great deal of clinical research using retrospective reports of past behavior has been conducted on the perpetrators; however, little prospective longitudinal research has been conducted on the etiology and long-term trajectories of sexual assaulters. The present work capitalizes on 25 years of data collected for the National Youth Survey Family Study (NYSFS; n=1,725), a nationally-representative, longitudinal, prospective study of youth as they age into adulthood. Youth in the NYSFS were aged eleven to seventeen in 1976, and have been interviewed ten times between 1977 and 2002. In each wave of data collection, respondents were asked to self-report their involvement in sexually assaultive behaviors, in addition to a broad variety of other criminal behaviors. Results indicate that seexual assaulters were both similar to other violent criminals (e.g., no specialization in this behavior, but part of a general pattern of violent behavior) and different from other violent criminals (e.g., greater continuity for serious sexual assault offending than for other forms of violent behavior). Results will be discussed within a life course perspectibe.

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Updated 05/20/2006