There is a growing public concern towards the occurrence of victimization of children by their contemporaries including both youth and adolescents. It is saddening that the minors are exposed to similar crimes as the adults in addition to the child-specific felonies such as child abuse and neglect. Criminal activities against children is particularly a disturbing issue bearing in mind their consequences on the minors growth and development. Sexual offences, specifically, have tremendous impacts on the lives of the children and usually leave a mark that haunts them for the rest of their lives. Recently, there has been a national effort to curb the incidences of sex offences committed by the juveniles against fellow minors, owing to the increasing rates of these types of crimes. Therefore, these trends indicate the need to direct the focus on the young felons and cultivate the spirit of citizenship among the group. This paper uses the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reporting Program to research juvenile sex offences. It describes the typical perpetrators of these crimes with regard to gender, age, race, and socioeconomic status. Additionally, it compares and contrasts the criminal and civil legal systems with respect to the penalties, burden of persuasion, and key players. The essay attempts at explaining the causes of these criminal behaviors. Finally, it provides a justification for the responses by integrating one historical as well as two contemporary psychological theories with the explanation given.
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According to the National Incidence-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) report released by the FBI courtesy of the Uniform Crime Reporting program, statistics support the perspective on the characteristics of juvenile sex offenders. The population-based epidemiological information offers a broad point of view regarding the typical minors who commit these crimes. The key findings of the latest report revealed that nearly 36 percent of the people who are responsible for the sex offenses against children belong to the same group. The number of persons below eighteen years indicted of sex crimes grows sharply at the age of 12 and flattens beyond the age of 14. The implication of this discovery is that the peak age for sex offences among the minors is early adolescence. The rates experience a dramatic increase between the mid and late puberty stages. Female perpetrators constitute just 7 percent of the felons with most of their cases involving multiple victims and perpetrator episodes. Their targets are mostly family members or males. Most of them commit these crimes in their preteen eras. The most predominant juvenile sex offenders are males, consisting more than 90 percent of the criminals. All the socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are represented within the scope of the juvenile sex offences. Moreover, these felonies traverse all cultural and racial boundaries. The residential placement of juvenile sex offenders reveals that Whites produce the highest number of delinquents in this sector at 53 percent, against the minority groups 47 percent. African-Americans had rates of 28 percent while Hispanics stood at 14 percent. The remainder was shared equally among Asians and American-Indians, with each recording 2 percent. However, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have a greater tendency of being involved in sex offenses than their counterparts from well-established socioeconomic settings. (Finkelhor, Chaffin, & Ormrod, 2009)
There is a diversity of motivation in the sense of committing sex crimes among the minors. These children originate from a variety of social and family circumstances that can either be functional or muddled with many difficulties and problems. Nevertheless, a majority of them emerge from the backgrounds laced with an accumulated level of adversity. They are characterized as those suffering from deficits in self-esteem and social competency. For such individuals the ability to form and maintain healthy relationships with their peers is impaired. They are noted to have patterns of violating the rights of the contemporaries. Additionally, their cognition is compromised and they are unable to resolve conflicts amicably. Most of those people have the outstanding histories of depression. Exposure to violence and maltreatment is also a contributing factor to sex offences by the minors. Moreover, a significant proportion of the youngsters convicted of sex crimes has been victims of the same in the past. The incidence of these felonies is dependent on the opportunity and guile rather than injurious force. Notably, the perpetrators may be related to their targets, providing a suitable occasion and trusting relationship that is a loophole for abuse. Alternatively, they may use trickery in the form of bribes or threats of the breaking of the bond between them in order to compel the child to engage in the sexual activity. (Caldwell, 2010)
In the historical sense, the explanations for these crimes were based on single-factor theories. The earliest adopted model was the biological theory, which presupposed that the occurrence of such illegal acts was subject to biological factors (Faupel, n.d.). The explanation was that hormones might facilitate the incidence of these felonies. For instance, high testosterone levels cause the individuals to lose self-control among the adolescents. It is marked by the increased degree of sex drive and aggression. Essentially, the theory explains that the juveniles are predisposed to commit these crimes due to the physiologically influenced sexual appetites. Alternatively, the commonness of the deviant sexual tendencies could be clarified by the behavioral theory. The proponents of this model argue that these odious sexual manners develop from conditioning. They propose that the offenders learn such habits from their environments. For example, a child who experiences sexual abuse at a young age is prone to develop inappropriate sexual inclinations in the future.
In the contemporary setting, these deviant sexual behaviors are explained by the integrated theory. It is based on the evidence that many factors contribute to the offence. Sexual assaults are the product of a combination of aspects including biological, developmental, environmental, cultural, circumstantial, and individual vulnerabilities. For example, adverse developmental experiences in the formative age make the individual incapable of maintaining healthy relationships. Thus, these influences have a bearing on the adjustment of the person to life making it difficult to cope with the hormonal, physical, and emotional changes that they have at puberty. Furthermore, the cultural aspect come into play in the sense of the messages it passes to the minors through the media such as objectification of females. All these components lead to the occurrence of the felony. In other cases, the confluence model has been used to explain the juvenile sex offences. Hence, this theory presupposes that the primary groups of risk factors (motivators, disinhibitors, and opportunities) prompt individuals to commit the crime. It suggests that these aspects combine to influence the delinquency on two fronts: sexual promiscuity or hostile masculinity. (Etiological and Explanatory Theories, 2016)
Criminal legal systems are based on the provision of evidence beyond reasonable doubt. In this establishment, the key players include the law enforcement, prosecution, defense attorneys, courts, and corrections. The forms of punishment may be Formby means of fines, probation, or incarceration. Civil legal systems, on the other hand, do not have a strict policy on the burden of proof because the liability is proven by the preponderance of the evidence. Unlike the criminal system, civil justice does not aim at stigmatizing the perpetrator. Therefore, the individuals indicted in these cases may face penalties of monetary damages or forced to dismiss property. However, they are not sentenced to jail. The key players in civil law are the disputing persons or organizations, the attorneys, and the courts (El-Shenawy, 2015).
Summarily, a typical juvenile sex offender is a male adolescent in the mid or late puberty stages of life. The whites are the most prevalent perpetrators of the crime with their proportions slightly over half of the convicted felons. The motivating factors that drive them to commit these felonies are diverse. Therefore, these causes can be explained through various principles. Historically, the claims were supported by single-factor theories. However, in the contemporary setting, the latter identify various combinations of aspects as the reasons behind the deviant sexual behaviors.
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