EVALUATING CANADIANS’ ATTITUDES TOWARD JUVENILE SEXUAL OFFENDERS: TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF COMMUNITY RESPONSES
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Since the mid-1800's, the Western world's response to juvenile offending has continued to evolve, reflecting our increasing understanding of adolescent development, the formative role of their environment, and their treatment amenability. Yet the 1980's fostered in a new response to juvenile crime, one of fear and retribution. Perhaps no group has fallen victim to this zeitgeist than juvenile sexual offenders, who are often subject to registration on public sexual offender databases. While an American practice, there is some evidence that a similar approach is supported in Canada, at least regarding adult sexual offenders (Kelly, 2013). Thus, the purpose of the current study was to gain a better understanding of Canadian attitudes and support for responses to both juvenile and adult sexual offending. In doing so, 376 individuals were recruited from the University of Saskatchewan and responded to a series of attitudinal, penal, and responsive measures which followed one of three vignette conditions. This was repeated for both juvenile and adult sexual offenders in a counterbalanced order. Vignettes were either provided or were articulated by the participant either prior to or following their responses. Results indicated that juvenile sexual offenders are seen less negatively and were treated less harshly than their adult counterparts. While registration was largely endorsed for both groups, differences in support between public and non-public registration differentiated the groups. Effects of vignette condition were minimal, although there was some support that the provided vignettes elicited more positive attitudes. Participant estimates of sexual recidivism mediated the relationships between attitudes and punitive responses for juvenile sexual offenders, while playing a more limited role for adult sexual offenders. The implications of these results, as well as study limitations and future directions are discussed at length below.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorWormith, Stephen; Grant, Peter
CommitteeOlver, Mark; Grant, Peter; Thompson, Scott
Copyright DateNovember 2018
juvenile sexual offenders