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The Perversion of Youth

The Perversion of Youth: Controversies in the Assessment and Treatment of Juvenile Sex Offenders

Frank C. DiCataldo
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Perversion of Youth
    Book Description:

    Over the past two decades, concern about adolescent sex offenders has grown at an astonishing pace, garnering heated coverage in the media and providing fodder for television shows like Law and Order. Americans' reaction to such stories has prompted the unquestioned application to adolescents of harsh legal and clinical intervention strategies designed for serious adult offenders, with little attention being paid to the psychological maturity of the offender. Many strategies being used today to deal with juvenile sex offenders - and even to define what criteria to use in defining "juvenile sex offender" - do not have empirical support and, Frank C. DiCataldo cautions, may be doing more harm to children and society than good.The Perversion of Youth critiques the current system and its methods for treating and categorizing juveniles, and calls for a major reevaluation of how these cases should be managed in the future. Through an analysis of the history of the problem and an empirical review of the literature, including specific cases and their outcomes, DiCataldo demonstrates that current practices are based more on our collective fears and moral passions than on any supportive science or sound policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8522-5
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 The Birth of a Moral Panic
    (pp. 1-18)

    Delinquency has always been with us. Adolescents have always fought, stolen, run away, abused substances, been truant, set fires, destroyed property, and congregated in groups that promulgate such activities. There is nothing new about adolescents engaging in these troublesome behaviors. But childhood sexuality is an idea deeply engraved in the American psyche as something altogether different: damaging, scarring, inherently harmful, traumatizing, a warping mark (Levine 1996). To borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault (1978), sex has been problematized by moderns, and nowhere does this problematization run deeper than in sexuality of children and adolescents.

    Childhood sexuality has become a police...

  5. 2 The Return of the Blob: The Heterogeneity of Juvenile Sex Offenders
    (pp. 19-48)

    The rumor mill was in full swing at school and Michelle had reached her limit of teasing about her 10-year-old sister, Katie. She had heard enough about how Katie had performed oral sex on Ryan, 14. The incident occurred in a tent in his cousin David’s yard during a game of “truth-or-dare.” It happened in August but it took until the following spring for the whispered rumors to circulate widely enough for Michelle finally tell her mother about it. In April 2002 Katie’s mother contacted the police and a full investigation into the incident began. Katie’s mother Kwen David, 14....

  6. 3 Test Authors in Search of a Clinical Population: Risk Assessment Instruments for Juvenile Sex Offenders
    (pp. 49-84)

    J.P. was sentenced to thirty years with a minimum of fifteen years to serve before parole eligibility for the aggregated sexual assault of two women and the attempted aggravated sexual assault of a third. The offenses occurred in 1982 when J.P. was 14 and 15 years old. The three sexual assaults all involved a similar modus operandi. In each case, J.P. grabbed a stranger adult female victim from behind at knife point, threatened to kill her, forced her to a secluded area, and took her money. In the first offense, he removed the victim’s clothes but she managed to escape...

  7. 4 The Adolescent as Sexual Deviant: The Treatment of Juvenile Sex Offenders
    (pp. 85-108)

    A 17-year-old adolescent male adjudicated delinquent for fondling a semiconscious girl intoxicated at a party describes to his therapy group at his residential treatment program a deviant sexual fantasy he recently had while out on a community pass. He was in line at a Burger King at the local mall when he noticed that the girl at the counter was sexually attractive. What is deviant about this? He explained that he learned in treatment that it is inappropriate for him to have sexual fantasies or feelings about a girl with whom he is not involved in a relationship. Furthermore, having...

  8. 5 Creating the Objects of Our Concern: Normal Childhood Sexuality and the Invention of Childhood Sexual Behavior Problems
    (pp. 109-142)

    Can a 6-year-old boy form the intent to commit an act of sexual aggression against a female classmate? This question was at the center of the media maelstrom that swept across the country when the Brockton Public School District, in a city about twenty-five miles south of Boston, Massachusetts, issued a three-day suspension on January 6, 2006, to a 6-year-old boy who had touched a same-aged first grade female classmate inside her waistband (Jan and Burge 2006; Papadopoulos 2006a and b). The act was labeled sexual harassment because it fit the school district’s definition banning such conduct. The accused child...

  9. 6 Becoming a Man: The Waiver of the Juvenile Sex Offender to Adult Court
    (pp. 143-166)

    In 1967 a 15-year-old juvenile sex offender from Arizona caused a revolutionary change in the juvenile court with nothing more than a phone call. His case, decided by the United States Supreme Court, forever changed the juvenile court from an institution founded on the rehabilitative ideal into the more formal due process institution that it is today (In re Gault387 U.S. 1, 1967). For nearly three-quarters of a century, beginning in 1899, when the charter for the first juvenile court was passed by the Illinois state legislature establishing the juvenile court in Chicago, the juvenile court was an informal...

  10. 7 Making Monsters: The Civil Commitment of Juvenile Sex Offenders
    (pp. 167-202)

    In 1994 Kansas quickly passed legislation to prevent the impending release of Leroy Hendricks, an inmate within the Kansas prison system with a 30-year history of child molestation. In what the U.S Supreme Court described as a “chilling history of child sexual molestation and abuse,” Hendricks had sexually molested as many as twelve boys and girls—one girl was as young as age 7—beginning in 1955 when he exposed his genitals to two young girls (Kansas v. Hendricks1997). Two of his victims were his own step-son and step-daughter. He had participated in a number of sex offender treatment...

  11. 8 Collateral Consequences: The Invisible Punishment of the Juvenile Sex Offender
    (pp. 203-222)

    Early on Easter Sunday morning, April 16, 2006, Ralph Marshall awoke to find his pickup truck and his son, Stephen Marshall, gone. He had planned to go target shooting at a nearby range with his son later that morning, and figured Stephen had gone ahead alone without him. Unbeknownst to his father, Stephen had left earlier that morning armed with an assault rifle and two handguns.

    Stephen had arrived at his father’s home in Houlton, Maine, a small town near the Canadian border, three days earlier on Thursday, and planned on spending a few days visiting his father. Stephen lived...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 223-230)

    The role of the finger-wagging critic can be very alluring. Critique is easy compared to the heavy lifting necessary for solving problems. tear down a flawed structure without erecting a new and improved one place is a deeply cynical position leaving the reader feeling left out the cold. Finding the gaps, soft spots, and warps in the science, clinical practice, and legal policies of juvenile sex offenders is one thing; building better way to think and respond to them is entirely another.

    In the previous eight chapters I have played the role of critic, exerting restraint to tone down any...

  13. References
    (pp. 231-252)
  14. Index
    (pp. 253-268)
  15. About the Author
    (pp. 269-269)