First Advisor

Keith Kaufman

Date of Publication

Spring 7-9-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Caregivers, Teenage sex offenders -- Family relationships -- Psychological aspects, Juvenile delinquents -- Family relationships -- Psychological aspects, Attachment behavior



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 124 pages)


In the last decade, it has been recognized that juveniles commit as much as 20% of all sexual offenses in the United States (DOJ, 2004). Research that attempts to understand why young people commit sex crimes points to an array of family factors that may uniquely contribute to the development of sexual offending over and above general juvenile delinquency. This study specifically examines disrupted caregiving, or receiving insufficient or substitute care, as a potential moderator in the relationship between offense status and caregiver-child relationship quality. Four distinct moderators were tested: gender of caregiver, biological relationship between caregiver and child, number of times the youth has changed caregivers, and child maltreatment history. Results indicate that juvenile sexual offenders have particularly poor relationships with their primary caregivers, and that caregiver gender, biological relationship between caregiver and child, and child maltreatment history act as moderators. Thus, while juvenile sexual offenders in general have poor relationships with their caregivers, those with male caregivers and those who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect, have relationships that are even worse. In contrast, sexual offenders raised by non-biological caregivers showed better relationship quality than did youth raised by their biological parents. These findings suggest opportunities for early intervention, before caregiving is disrupted. Furthermore, additional supports may be offered to youth whose family structures suggest that they may be at increased risk.


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