First Advisor

Keith L. Kaufman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Sex offenders -- Juvenile, Attachment disorder in adolescence, Child sexual abuse -- Psychological aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (162 p.)


Child sexual abuse is a serious and widespread problem that has been associated with a variety of short and long term consequences to victims, offenders, families, communities and society at large. In recent years, it has been recognized that up to 40% of sexual offenses occur at the hands of adolescent offenders (between 12-18 years of age). The literature suggests that early childhood familial experiences, specifically attachment deficits and experiencing abuse in childhood may be associated with offending behavior in adolescents. Important developments in attachment theory are reviewed and discussed as they relate to the etiology of offending behavior and resulting consequences. In this study, internal working models and the framework of Bartholomew's Four Category Model of Attachment (1991) are used to categorize participants based on their perceptions of the quality of their relationship with their supervisor (female caregiver) and personal histories of abuse. Study findings demonstrate that attachment style is significantly related to juvenile offender status (Sex Offender, Delinquent, and non-offending Comparison), and a significant number of Juvenile Sex Offenders report having suffered one or more types of childhood abuse. Finally, implications from this investigation are explored in regard to treatment and directions for future research are discussed.


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