Many juvenile offenders experience abuse and neglect in childhood. Juveniles, individuals under the age of 18, are at an increased risk for committing crimes if they abuse substances, are exposed to family conflict, lack peer acceptance, and engage in antisocial behaviors. A recent study noted up to 70% of offenders in treatment facilities reported a history of childhood sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse (Simons, Wurtele, Durham, 2007). Although annual trends report a decrease in juvenile offenses, recidivism remains a risk, particularly for juveniles who commit violent crimes such as sexual offenses.
Residential and re-entry programs, youth detention centers, and alternative rehabilitative facilities are treatment options critical in reducing a juvenile’s risk of reoffending. Treatment that focuses on individual and family counseling, interpersonal skills training, and behavioral programs are effective in providing juveniles who have committed offenses with the skills necessary to successfully reintegrate within society. The rehabilitation of juveniles who commit violent crimes such as sexual offenses is complex. Treatment providers must simultaneously guide the offender in working through any personal history of abuse trauma while implementing a program of rehabilitation that addresses the individual as a perpetrator of abuse.