Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp1216-sebu-487651 May 9, 2004 12:27 Style ﬁle version Nov 28th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 16, No. 3, July 2004 (
A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Sexual
Recidivism Among Adolescent Sex Offenders
Ian A. Nisbet,
Peter H. Wilson,
and Stephen W. Smallbone
This paper reports on a follow-up of a sample of 303 adolescent male sex of-
fenders from New South Wales, Australia. Adult rearrest and reconviction data
were obtained for 292 of these individuals. The mean observation period between
their adjudication as adolescents and their follow-up as adults was 7.3 years.
Seventy-ﬁve (25%) received further convictions for sexual offenses prior to their
18th birthday. As adults, 25 (9%) came to the attention of police for further alleged
sexual offenses, including 14 (5%) who received convictions for these offenses. Of
these, 11 (79%) also received new convictions for nonsexual offenses. Overall,
61.3% of subjects received convictions for nonsexual offenses as adults. Results
suggest considerable diversity and persistence in delinquent and criminal behav-
ior, and challengeassumptions about high transition rates from adolescent to adult
KEY WORDS: adolescent sex offenders; recidivism; risk.
Early studies of adult sex offenders suggested that adolescent onset of sexual
offending was common (Groth, 1977; Longo & Groth, 1983). This early onset
hypothesis appeared to be conﬁrmed by Abel and his colleagues’ conﬁdential
self-report study in which 58% of more than 500 nonincarcerated “paraphili-
acs” reported onset of deviant sexual interests prior to age 18 (Abel, Becker,
Cunningham-Rathner, Mittelman, & Rouleau, 1988; Abel & Osborn, 1992). By
extension, though, almost half (42%) of this sample reported the onset of deviant
sexual interests after 18 years of age. Moreover, a closer examination of Abel and
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Grifﬁth University, Queensland, Australia.
Southern Cross University, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at School of Criminology and Criminal Justice,
Mt Gravatt Campus, Grifﬁth University, Nathan 4111, Australia; e-mail: I.Nisbet@grifﬁth.edu.au.
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation