Determining Treatment Needs and Recidivism Risk of Juveniles with Sexual Offense Adjudications

Samantha L Morin, Fordham University


This study investigated trauma exposure, mental health symptoms, callous-unemotional (C-U) trait clusters, and recidivism in a sample of juvenile sexual offenders (JSOs). The sample was comprised of 151 JSOs derived from a large, longitudinal project with a 7-year follow-up period. The study addressed gaps in the literature by testing the utility of a C-U clusters model for predicting differences in mental health symptoms and recidivism risk. Findings provided no support for study hypotheses. Three cluster groups based on C-U traits and anxiety found in prior research with general juvenile offenders was replicated in this sample of JSOs (control, primary, secondary); however, a fourth unexpected cluster also emerged (anxious). Additionally, the differentiation of primary and secondary clusters did not lead to meaningful distinctions in key treatment variables including mental health symptoms (e.g., anger, depression) and trauma exposure. The low rates of mental health symptom endorsement across the sample may have prevented significant differences from emerging across the clusters. Further, the primary versus secondary clusters did not demonstrate any of the predicted differences in recidivism risk; thus, those in the primary cluster did not have higher rates of sexual and violent reoffenses and those in the secondary cluster did not have higher rates of non-sexual, non-violent, and misdemeanor reoffenses. Contrary to expectations, the primary cluster did demonstrate a more rapid and higher rate of drug reoffending compared to the other clusters. Consistent with past research, psychopathy as a whole, and Factor 2 behavioral and lifestyle traits in particular, predicted violent and non-violent reoffenses. The study was limited by those measures and scale scores available in the dataset. Future research exploring associations between C-U clusters, mental health variables, and recidivism risk with JSOs will benefit from more nuanced and comprehensive assessments, as well as the inclusion of measures of risk and sexual deviance. However, current findings do highlight the importance of incorporating items measuring psychopathy and other risk factors in assessments of JSOs, and focusing treatment on the behavioral and lifestyle traits of psychopathy such as impulsivity and social deviance.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Morin, Samantha L, "Determining Treatment Needs and Recidivism Risk of Juveniles with Sexual Offense Adjudications" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10271673.