First Advisor

Ben Anderson-Nathe

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Child and Family Studies and University Honors


Social Work


Teenage sex offenders -- Rehabilitation, Teenage sex offenders -- Legal status laws etc -- United States, Administration of juvenile justice -- United States, Recidivism -- Statistics




The juvenile justice system was founded on the beliefs that youth were inherently different from adults, both in the crimes they committed and how they were treated within society, and thus deserved to be punished differently. The court's job was to act as a sort of parent and always in the best interest of the child. Within this empathetic system, there has always been a fundamental misunderstanding of youth who commit sexual offenses and today those misunderstandings are incredibly detrimental to adjudicated youth and society at large. We believe that these youth are dangerous predators, that they will continue to offend throughout adulthood, and that we need to punish them punitively and for long periods of time. Research shows that all of these assumptions are false and that these youth are deserving of rehabilitation and capable of change. Through an analysis of the literature on the history of the juvenile justice system, the characteristics and recidivism rates of youth who commit sexual offenses, and the implications of treatment, incarceration, and sex offender registration, the author discusses the various ways we have failed to meet the goals of the juvenile justice system and reduce sexual crimes.


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