The male adolescent's perception of family dynamics and the impact on the development of sex offense behavior: A qualitative study

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Juvenile sex offenders, Family of juvenile sex offenders, Adolescent sex offenders, Adolescents, Family therapy, Boys

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Criminology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Male adolescent sex offenders present a serious risk to society. The current and past research has primarily focused on the statistics of juvenile offenders and their individual characteristics. The family research that has been completed has lacked consistent and reliable conclusions. Thus far, only one other study has been conducted regarding the juvenile sex offenders' perception of their family experiences. The purpose of this dissertation was to understand the experience and meanings that male juvenile sex offenders ascribe to their family experiences, as well as, the adolescents' perspective about how his sexual acts fit within the context of his family dynamics. A phenomenological qualitative methodology was used. The participants were 15 male adolescents between the ages of 12-18, residing in residential treatment for sexual issues. Each youth was interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. Data analysis followed Moustakas (1990; 1994) and Van Manen's (1990) procedures for analyzing heuristic and transcendental research. Many of the participants in the current study tended to live in a family environment of instability, adult criminal behavior, absent fathers, unavailable mothers, inadequate parenting, physical violence, sexual abuse, and exposure to pornography. Many of these youths lacked proper education about sex, were highly manipulative and secretive, chose a sibling(s) as their primary victim, their offense behavior was only one part of their delinquent activities, and the primary reason for their offense behavior was to satisfy a sexual urge. The results of this study indicated that juvenile sex offenders likely live within a family context of risk factors that contribute to the development and continuance of sexual perpetration.


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