One of the primary focuses of the Star Guides Wilderness program is conducting an accurate, comprehensive and thorough psycho-sexual evaluation. This evaluation includes assessing the risk for future re-offenses which is often a piece of information that parents, juvenile courts and probation departments need in order to determine the most appropriate after-care placement for the teen sexual offender following completion of Star Guides.
There is currently no scientifically validated system or test to determine exactly which adolescent sex offenders pose a high risk for recidivism. Research suggests that many mental health professionals and evaluators tend to overestimate the possibility of recidivism in evaluations, labeling far more teenagers as high risk than is actually accurate.
In many cases, it is more accurate according to research, to assess that an adolescent sex offender is relatively low risk unless there is significant evidence to suggest otherwise. Keep in mind, “low risk” does not imply the absence of risk, and low-risk offenders still need supervision and treatment, but it is important to note that most teen sex-offenders qualify as “low-risk” rather than “high-risk” of re-offending.
Below is a list of factors that are considered in conducting a sexual behavior risk assessment:
- A history of multiple sexual offenses, especially if any occurs after adequate treatment.
- A history of repeated non-sexual juvenile offenses.
- Clear and persistent sexual interest in children.
- Failure to comply with an adolescent sexual offender treatment program.
- Self-evident risk signs such as out-of-control behavior, statements of intent to re-offend, etc.
- Family resistance regarding supervision and compliance.
The decision regarding whether a juvenile sex offender should remain in the same home with the victim of his or her offense should be made carefully on a case-by-case basis. The decision is typically made by the parents of the youth along with professionals in the juvenile justice system including, judges, probation officers, DCFS child-welfare workers.
A big advantage of a teen sex offender being placed in the Star Guides Program is that it provides the family with a short-term 60-90 placement outside of the home for this evaluation to occur, while assuring the safety of the victim who remains in the home. During this time, the psycho-sexual evaluation is completed and the parents and professionals involved in the case can review the evaluation and recommendations for making the all-important decision of whether the perpetrator can return to reside in the family home or if other placement options need to be considered.
Smith, W. R., & Monastersky, C. (1986). Assessing juvenile sexual offenders’ risk for reoffending. Criminal Justice & Behavior, 13, 115-140.
Caldwell, M. F. (2002). What we do not know about juvenile sexual reoffense risk. Child Maltreatment, 7, 291-302.