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KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: THE MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT SEXUAL OFFENDING
Because of common misconceptions, many of us have both unwarranted
fears and misguided complacency about sex offenders. Protecting
ourselves and our children must begin by understanding the facts
about sex offenders and their crimes.
offenders who are caught and convicted are the tip of the iceberg. MOST sex offenders are never identified. Less than 30%
of sexual crimes are even reported to law enforcement, and even
fewer are successfully prosecuted and convicted. Estimates are
that the several hundred thousand convicted sex offenders nationwide
represent only a fraction (less than 10%) of all sex offenders
living in communities across the country.
vast majority (80-95%) of sex offenders KNOW THEIR VICTIMS. Sexual assaults committed by strangers, while
are far less common than assaults by someone in a victim’s
familiar circle of family, friends, and acquaintances - an old
boyfriend, a babysitter, a coach, an uncle. Between 75-90% of adult
victims of rape report knowing their assailant. About 60% of sexual
victimization of boys and 80% of girls is committed by offenders
known to the child or his family. Young victims who know their
abuser are least likely to report the crime.
offenders cut across all demographic groups. Sex offenders
come from all kinds of backgrounds, income levels
Many have no official criminal record or sex crime history of any
kind. While there is no profile of a “typical sex offender,” therefore,
they all tend to be manipulative, deceptive, and secretive. Most
do not offend on impulse, but rather plan their crimes carefully.
offenders often commit different types of sex crimes with different
kinds of victims. At least half of convicted
child molesters have also assaulted adults. Over 80% of convicted
of adults have also molested children. Over two-thirds of offenders
committing incest have also assaulted victims outside the family.
of offenders report assaulting both males and females.
all sex offenders are male, and not all offenders are adults. The majority are male, but women also commit sexual offenses, particularly
against children. While most offenders are adults, adolescents
account for a significant number of rapes and child molestation
cases every year.
offenders are four times more likely than other offenders to
be rearrested for another sex crime, and child molesters have
the highest rearrest rates among different types of sex offenders. Measuring how likely it is that a sex offender will commit another
sex crime is tricky because most sex crimes are unreported. Sex
offenders are less likely than other offenders to be rearrested
for any crime, but considerably more likely to be rearrested for
a sex crime. The more prior arrests a sex offender has before release,
the higher the rate of rearrest. Rearrest rates of sex offenders
also do not follow the pattern of non-sex offenders by falling
as offenders age.
- The median age of sexual assault victims is less than 13 years
old; the median age of rape victims is 22 years old.