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From these self-report studies (see, e.g., Abel et al.1993), however, it is not always clear whether the onset refers specifically to sex offending or to some other behavior such as the onset of deviant sexual interests, the onset of deviant sexual fantasizing, and the onset of deviant sexual arousal. When looking at the official age of onset, results clearly indicate that it significantly varies across sex offender types.
These results mirror those reported in the Groth et al.
study (1982), which showed an average age of onset of 19 years old for a sample of sexual aggressors against women, while in the Abel et al. The self-reported onset age for child molesters appears to be different than the one reported for rapists, but the findings are not stable across studies. (1993) study, whereas 49 % of adult rapists were JSOs, that number increased to 62 % for child molesters.
This is not an overlooking but illustrates the fact that most theoretical views of sex offending is based on the assumptions that there is a stable propensity to commit sex crime and theoretical models should only be concerned by the description and the explanation of this propensity.
These models, therefore, do not recognize the importance of distinguishing such aspects as prevalence, age of onset, persistence, frequency, seriousness, and desistence.
Although there is a long history of criminal career research with the publication of Criminal Careers and Career Criminals in 1986 by Dr.
Al Blumstein and colleagues, such a framework was introduced to the field of criminal justice and criminology.
While the criminal career approach should not be seen as a cure-all approach, it provides a conceptual framework to organize existing study findings, to guide future empirical research, as well as to help to think more clearly about sex offenders’ criminal behavior.
Therefore, this research paper aims, first, to introduce researchers from the field of sexual violence and abuse to the criminal career approach; second, to organize the empirical knowledge on the criminal activity of sex offenders using a criminal career approach; and, third, to review the state of empirical knowledge on various dimensions of the criminal career of sex offenders.
The criminal career approach is concerned with the description and explanation of the longitudinal sequence of offending.
While the criminal career approach has been around for quite some time in criminological circles, it would take some time, however, before this framework would be introduced more explicitly to the field of sexual violence and abuse (Blokland and Lussier 2012; Lussier et al. Building on the criminal career approach proposed by Blumstein and colleagues, the current review examines the current state of knowledge regarding the criminal activity of sex offenders.