Parental sexual offending: managing risk through diversion

30 Sep 2014

This report examines static and dynamic risk factors in an Australian sample of parental child sex offenders and the predictive strength of those factors regarding reoffending with or without a treatment intervention.


Public policy initiatives to manage parental child sexual offending have been hindered by the absence of risk instruments sensitive to unique factors associated with the distinctive profile of this core group of offenders. Using an Australian sample of 172 male parental offenders referred to community-based treatment designed for low-risk offenders, this study retrospectively compared risk levels and reoffence rates of offenders accepted into treatment (46%) with those who returned to court for standard criminal prosecution (54%). Overall, the results indicated that offenders with low risk scores were significantly more likely to be accepted into treatment, spend longer in treatment and complete treatment than offenders with high risk scores. Low-risk offenders who experienced standard criminal prosecution and sentencing reoffended 11 times faster than their counterparts who attended the community-based program (after controlling for pre-treatment dynamic risk levels). This diversion program was an effective preventive intervention that increased offender desistance and reduced threats to the safety and welfare young children and their families.


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