Reference: Van den Berg, C., Bijleveld, C., Hendriks, J., & Mooi-Reci, I. (2014). The juvenile sex offender: the effect of employment on offending. Journal of Criminal Justice. 42, 145-152.

Professionals, carers and families who are working with young people displaying problematic sexual behaviour need to consider that, when it is age appropriate, they need to help them to find employment as an integral part of risk reduction and a means to build positive social values.

Summary

The purpose of this study was to investigate if employment reduces re-offending rates in young people who have committed sexual offences. Previous research has identified the link between employment and reduction of criminal behaviour in juvenile offenders. However, no clear explanation has been provided as to how and why employment impacts on offending.  What has been agreed is the pattern; which shows general offending peaking at adolescence and declining within early adulthood with employment seen as one of the most important transitions during this period. Merton’s anomie theory argues that employment reduces offending if the benefits of employment outweigh the benefits of delinquency. Whereas routine activity theorists claim that due to the reduction in unstructured time, there is less opportunity to engage in criminal behaviour. Sutherland and Cressy’s (1978) differential association theory argues that delinquency reduce as a result of social embeddedness as employees learn social values from job culture. However no such research exists specifically in relation to juvenile sex offenders which is an important area of discussion due to their identification as a separate offending group presented as higher risk.

Observations

This study found a significant relationship between regular employment and offending reducing. The study supports the social capital and embeddedness explanations that, regular work reduces delinquency and criminal behaviour. The three subtypes of sex offenders; child, peer and group offenders provided evidence that perpetrators of child related offences have the highest level of labour market participation irrelevant of their more problematic profile (lower IQ, lacking social skills, behavioural problems).

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