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Study Of Adolescent Sex Offenders Pick Young Victims

December 12, 1985

ATLANTA (AP) _ A Vermont study has found that more than two-thirds of the victims of adolescent sex offenders are under the age of 10 and most offenses occur between relatives, friends or acquaintances, the national Centers for Disease Control reported Thursday.

″Since many adult sex offenders begin committing offenses during adolescence, intervention during the adolescent years might prevent the continuation of the behavior into the adult years,″ the CDC said.

The study cited by the CDC in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report was conducted in 1984 by the Vermont Department of Health and included information on 161 people, all 19 or younger, who were known by state caseworkers to have committed sex offenses.

The median age of male offenders in the Vermont study - more than 92 percent of the total - was 15, and the median age of the female offenders was 13. More than two-thirds of the victims were 9 or younger, while more than half were 6 or younger.

The survey found the offenders’ victims were younger than themselves in 91 percent of the cases. More than 77 percent of the male offenders victimized females, and 92 percent of the female offenders victimized males.

Ninety-one percent of the offenses occurred between individuals who were family members, friends or acquaintances, according to the survey.

Sixty percent involved penetration, though the CDC said national data indicate that fondling is the most common offense.

″This study of adolescent sex offenders emphasizes the increasing awareness in the public health community that violence is a serious public health problem,″ the CDC said.

″The findings suggest that productive research and prevention efforts might be developed around another relatively new focus for public health - the concentration on perpetrators of abusive behaviors, rather than ... victims,″ the report said.

The Atlanta-based health agency recommended that health and criminal justice agencies work together on the problem.

The CDC report noted that the Vermont study included only adolescent sex offenders known by caseworkers at the Vermont departments of social and rehabilitation services and corrections. The CDC said it did not know whether the group was representative of all adolescent sex offenders.

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