The Root Causes of Sexual Offending: Social Learning Theory

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Many etiological theories exist attempting to explain the root causes of sexual offending. Although few provide substantial evidence and no definitive conclusions have been made, the social learning theory has been proposed to account for sex offending behaviors. Specifically, the social learning theory, or victim-to-victimizer theory, suggests sexually abused children learn these behaviors and are much more likely to perpetrate abuse when they’re older (Seto & Lalumiere, 2010). The following studies have provided substantial support for the social learning etiology. Through the use of a meta-analysis, Seto and Lalumiere (2010) concluded that sexual offending is tied to prior sexual abuse. Burton, Miller, and Shill (2002) discovered…show more content…
Roughly 79.4% of adolescent sex offenders experienced sexual abuse while only 46.7% of nonsexual offenders reported abuse (Burton, Miller, & Shills, 2002). About 43.9% of sex offenders identified both male and female perpetrators as opposed to 9.6% of nonsexual offenders. These individuals were exposed to more severe forms of victimization with a longer duration. Sex offenders endured an average of 5.6 years of abuse while nonsexual offenders experienced 3.9 years. Through the use of logistic regression analyses, Burton, Miller, and Shill (2002) concluded that method of operation and gender of abuser accurately predicts whether an individual will sexually offend. The analysis correctly predicted and placed 78.3% of the sex-offending males into their correct groups. Burton, Miller, and Shill (2002) found that sex offenders were more likely to be sexually abused compared to nonsexual offenders. Specifically, they were more often related to their perpetrators, experienced longer durations of abuse, were manipulated through the use of force, and penetration occurred. Forcefulness, or the method of operation, and gender may identify individuals who are more susceptible to carrying out sexual crimes. For example, a victim who experiences the use of favors or games as a method of manipulation is less likely to commit sexual crimes. Whereas a victim that experiences threats or physical force is

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