This piece of research highlighted the increasing issue of young people displaying PSB, noting that 18% of juveniles arrested in the US had a sexual component to their offence (United States Department of Justice, 2013). The response from schools has been inconsistent, with lack of information, relevant policies and a concern that offending within schools is on the increase also being highlighted.  However, school staff, in particular counselors, are well positioned to help such young people. It was also emphasised that the school ethos, on issues such as boundaries and attitudes, is likely to influence how such young people are treated, indeed possibly even whether they will succeed or fail in the school environment.

The study interviewed 34 school staff, including 18 counselors, 10 teachers and 6 administrators. Five themes emerged, namely,

  1. Misinformation– information about the young person is often anecdotal rather than factual and stereotyping appeared to prevail rather than informed understanding
  2. School climate– Schools can be unaccommodating for young people with PSB
  3. Juvenile sex offender-Flawed knowledge of the problem and how to help
  4. Role confusion- Lack of clarity as to what help, if any, they could provide, feelings of inexperience
  5. Communication & Education– A gap between the needs of a student with PSB and other young people in the school but insufficient resources/understanding/willingness to resolve this

Understanding is crucial to helping such students navigate the education system and, in turn, an education is a core part of moving on, both in terms of life prospects and developing a healthier way of engaging with others.  School staff needs specific education in order to effectively help young people with PSB. Top down guidance and polices need to be clearer to ensure all those at the school are safeguarded effectively.

[1] Morgan, L. W., McClendon, L. S., McCarty, J., & Zinck, K. (2016). Supporting Every Child: School Counselors’ Perceptions of Juvenile Sex Offenders in Schools, Journal of School Counseling, 14(1).