This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Developmental Perspective on Juvenile Sexual Offenders: The Role of Childhood Abuse in the Development of Psychopathology and Sex Offending Behavior




Farris, Kelly

Type of Degree





The child development field has a relative lack of research considering the impact of child abuse and victimization from a developmental perspective, and even less research that examines the effects of multiple types of abuse and victimization in children and adolescents who are navigating stage-salient developmental tasks. David Finkelhor proposed four conditions to contribute to negative and detrimental outcomes for victims, and these conditions, rooted in developmental victimology, led to the formation of multiple hypotheses for this project to test the conditions according to specific outcomes: 1) Repetitive and ongoing conditions of victimization, 2) The victim’s relationship with their main support system is significantly altered due to the victimization, 3) The victimization has an additive effect when combined with other serious stressors, and 4) The victimization occurs during a critical period of developmental task and interrupts successful navigation of the stage. Subjects included 614 incarcerated juvenile delinquent males consisting of juvenile sexual offenders and non-sexually offending delinquents. Focus was placed on the etiology of sexual offending behavior and the role that a history of sexual and physical victimization may play in the perpetration of sexual offenses on others as well as in the development of psychopathology. Finkelhor’s four conditions were tested among numerous dependent variables including a standard set of internalizing and externalizing variables, and interpersonal, substance abuse, trauma, criminal behavior, victim characteristics, self identity variables, and risk for future victimization variables. Analyses included chi-square, analyses of variance, and multivariate analyses of variance. Results supported each of the four conditions. Implications for the findings, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed.