Assessing risk in adolescent sexual offenders: Recommendations for clinical practice

Michael J. Vitacco, Michael Caldwell, Nancy L. Ryba, Alvin Malesky, Samantha J. Kurus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Accurately predicting the likelihood that an adolescent with a sex offense history will reoffend is a precarious task that carries with it the potential for extreme consequences for the adolescent offender (e.g., lifelong public registration). Recently implemented laws regarding adolescent sex offenders are dramatically upstream of current knowledge. Several of these laws were ostensibly based on the misassumption that clinicians could accurately identify adolescents at the greatest risk for sexual recidivism. However, predicting which adolescents are at greatest risk to sexually recidivate is severely constrained by limited knowledge about which predictors are most accurately linked to sexual recidivism and uncertainty over how to best make use of instruments designed to predict recidivism. This paper reviews research on risk assessment and provides a set of recommendations for conducting risk assessments with adolescent sex offenders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-940
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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