Community supervision of adolescents who commit a sexual offence : Risk appraisal by probation officers
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
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Research supports the Risk-Need-Responsivity model of offender rehabilitation for use with adolescent sexual offenders. Probation officers are responsible for the supervision of adolescent sexual offenders in the community, yet their approach to supervision of these youth has received little attention. It is unclear how probation officers in Ontario determine the risk for sexual recidivism, as there is no mandated tool for assessing this specific type of risk. Currently, probation officers use the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory to assess the risk for reoffence and develop a case management plan for youth on their caseload. However, there is insufficient research to support the use of this tool with sexual offenders. In this study, probation officers were surveyed to examine their knowledge of risk factors and current case management practices with adolescent sexual offenders compared to general offenders. Also, profiles on the YLS/CMI of youth who have been convicted of sexual and non-sexual offences were examined. Subscales which captured prior criminal history, delinquent peer associations and substance abuse were significantly more likely to be endorsed for non-sexual offenders. It was also found that probation officers used the risk override often with both non-sexual and sexual offenders; however the risk level override was increased more frequently, and to a greater extent, for sexual offenders. Results also indicated that probation officers had a mean accuracy of 57% when asked to identify risk factors for sexual recidivism. These findings suggest that probation officers may have a different approach to supervision with youth who have committed a sexual offense compared to youth with general offenses. The implications of these findings and future directions for research are described.