Recent, emerging academic debate has polarised opinion as to whether rehabilitation programs geared towards the treatment of sex offenders are in fact successful in reducing sexual recidivism (Marques 1999). Resolving this debate is a difficult task due to the inherent limitations of research methodology. For example, Macgregor highlights the point that evaluations of programs are often hindered by the small sample sizes of treated sex offenders (2008). Macgregor further develops the argument that if the barometer for measuring successive periods of offender recidivism post-treatment complete treatment is not adequate, this effectively undermines the reliability of any evaluations determining program effectiveness (Macgregor, 2008). Moreover, psychological research and theory has highlighted the diverse complexity of factors pertaining to the aetiology of sex offending such as heterogeneity of types, styles, process mechanisms and degrees of offence severity of offenders.
[...] How to answer the question: Does sex offender treatment work? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14(4) 437-451. Marshall, W. L., & Barbaree, H.E., (1988). The long term evaluation of behavioural treatment program for child molesters. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 499-511. Marshall, W.L., & Barbaree, H.E., (1990) An integrated theory of the aetiology of sexual offending, in W.L. Marshall, D.R. Laws & H.E. Barbaree (Eds) Handbook of sexual assault: Issues, theories and treatment of the offender. New York: Plenum. Marshall, W.L. & Marshall, L.E. [...]
[...] Marshall and Marshall took this further by analysing the random controlled trial design, concluding that it is not an appropriate method for measuring the effectiveness of sex offender treatment (2007). Interestingly, it has been noted that methodological differences in program evaluations may influence the inconsistencies in sexual recidivism rates (Marques 1999, Lievore 2004; Chung et al. 2006). For example, in the US, one method of sex offender treatment involves cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) based therapy to target the criminal of sex offenders. The majority of the adult programs predominantly focus on sex offenders who are at a low-moderate and moderate-high risk of re-offending (Marshall 2007). [...]
[...] The STATIC 99 risk probabilities measures are based on a large sample of sex offenders in the UK and Canada, (Hanson & Thornton, 2000). The Hoy & Bright study found that of sex offenders in the UK who were treated on the CUBIT programs committed a further sexual offence in the follow up period ( 3.75 years). The results of the study have been utilised as a basis to highlight the success of treatment programs and support the proposition that sex offenders can be rehabilitative, particularly when compared with the predicted rate of 26% for offender recidivism (Macgregor, 2008). [...]
[...] Hanson et al, found that the mean age of over 90,000 sex offenders was approximately 26, with the figure varying between rapists, child molesters and incest offenders (Hanson et al, 2002). However, research indicates that adult sex offenders against children who began offending in their youth are almost twice as likely to re-offend, than those who began offending in their adulthood (Bakker et al. 1998). Other findings indicate that the most high risk adult sex offenders will begin offending in their adolescence (Manderville-Norden & Beech 2004). [...]
[...] However, this limitation could arguably be utilised in an arbitrary manner to justify the proposition that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated and therefore justify calls for the government to impose the death penalty. It is further submitted that whilst various psychological models may not be wholly conclusive in order to explain sexual offending, the fact that treatment programs indicate that a significant proportion of sex offenders do not repeat offend highlights the need for more research in this area. One alternative would be to attempt to integrate a single and descriptive theory into a more comprehensive model in order to provide an all- encompassing explanation of molestation. [...]
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