What to Watch for When Adults are Around Children

Have you ever seen someone playing with a child and felt uncomfortable?  Maybe you thought, “I’m just over-reacting,” or, “He/she doesn’t really mean that.”  Don’t ignore comments or behaviors, learn to talk about them or ask more questions about what you have seen.  The checklist below comes from Stop It Now MN and offers some warning signs:

  1. Refuses to let a child or teenager set any of his or her own limits (tells a teenager that only a parent can decide when privacy is allowed in the home, even in the bathroom)
  2. Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want this affection
  3. Is overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen (talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body or interferes with normal teen dating)
  4. Manages to get time alone or insists on uninterrupted time alone with a child.
  5. Spends most of his/her spare time with children and has little interest in spending time with people his/her own age
  6. Regularly offers to babysit many different children for free or takes children on overnight outings alone
  7. Buys children expensive gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason
  8. Offers alcohol or drugs to teenagers or children when other adults are not around
  9. Frequently walks in on children/teens in the bathroom
  10. Allows children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behaviors

Any one of these behaviors does not mean that a child is in danger.  But if you answered “yes’ to more than one of these questions, begin to ask your own questions and get help.  Trust your gut.  For information and advice on how to talk to someone, or for resources, please call Stop It Now! Minnesota at 1-888-773-8368, or call Central MN Sexual Assault Center at 320-251-4357.

Sex Offenders in Minnesota

  • Sexual Offender Registration
  1. Offenders convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First, Second, Third, or Fourth Degree and many times fifth degree, must register the current address and any change of address with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions (BCA) for a minimum of 10 years.
  • Supervised Release
  1. The type of supervision an offender is under when released from prison.
  2. ISR (Intensive Supervised Release)-A form of supervision upon an offenders release from prison where the offender is supervised very intensely, often with numerous contacts with supervising probation agent per week.
  • Risk Assessment

A process whereby an offender’s potential to re-offend is assessed.  Specific tools are used.  Works similar to how insurance companies assess health and accident risk.  Psychological evaluations and treatment records are also used.  Failed sexual offender treatment is a very strong predictor of risk to re-offend.

Risk Level I, II, III-A level of risk (of potential to re-offend) assigned by the department of Corrections upon an offenders release from prison.  Note: an offender must have gone to prison and been released in order to be assigned a risk level.  Probation cases are not assigned a risk level.

  1. Level 1-low public risk-notification to the public is limited to victims and witnesses to the crime, other law enforcement agencies, and anyone identified by the prosecuting attorney to receive the information.
  2. Level 2-moderate public risk-notification to the public is limited to anyone included in the Level I notification, in addition, notification may be given to schools, daycare centers, and other organizations where individuals who may become victims of the offender are regularly found.  Law enforcement may also choose to notify certain individuals that they determine to be at possible risk.  The information is not to be redistributed by organizations.
  3. Level 3-high public risk-Notification to the public requires broad public notification, usually done through a public meeting.  Law enforcement may also notify individuals and agencies included in Level I and Level II notifications, and may use the media and other distribution methods to get information to the public.

Offender Information

Published by RAINN /Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (http://rainn.org)

  • The Rapist isn’t a Masked Stranger

  1. Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
  2. 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger
  3. 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance
  4. 28% are an intimate
  5. 7% are a relative
  • He’s not Hiding in the Bushes
  1. More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.
  2. 4 in 10 take place at the victim’s home
  3. 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor or relative
  4. 1 in 12 take place in a parking garage
  5. 43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight
  6. 24% occur between midnight and 6:00am
  7. The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm
  • The Criminal
  1. 52% are white
  2. 22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married
  3. Juveniles accounted for  16% of forcible rapes arrested in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses
  4. In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated – 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs
  5. In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon – 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife and 2% used another form of weapon
  6. 84% of victims reported the use of physical force only
  • Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist
  1. 46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.
  2. 18.6% for a violent offense
  3. 14.8% for a property offense
  4. 11.2% for a drug offense
  5. 20.5% for a public-order offense

For information on sexual offenders in MN  www.doc.state.mn.us

Common Attitudes Among Sex Offenders

In interviews done with sex offenders in prison, it has been revealed that sex offenders attitudes toward women was in general very, very, poor.  Many stated that they had no respect for women, and were brought up to never trust women.  Many were physically and sexually abused while very young.  This was coupled with fear and intimidation by threat or weapon.  By the time they were old enough and physically strong enough, they felt they had to retaliate with physical force.  In some cases, offenders felt they had really done nothing wrong.  To them a life of physical and sexual force was conditioned and learned behavior that was acceptable through their value system.

In many cases where the offenders were serving time for sexual assault of children, a common feeling seemed to exist that children were very easy to control and persuade.  Many of the offenders said things that were surprising:

  1. Children have no sexual experience and don’t really know that the act is illegal.  Therefore, it is okay at the time.
  2. Many times the offender didn’t cause physical injury to the child, so the offender felt it was okay.  The offender didn’t feel like they were committing a crime.
  3. In a couple of cases involving child molestation and incest crimes, the offender felt that by committing this type of crime they were getting back at their wife for making them feel sexually inadequate.
  4. It was said and supported by several of the child molesters that at the time they committed the crime, they didn’t feel that they were hurting the child, and it actually crossed their minds, that they thought the child might be enjoying it.
  • Female Offenders

Adults: Characteristics and Typologies

Keeping in mind the limitations of the current state of the research as well as the diversity of the population, some preliminary findings about adult women who commit sex offenses suggest that they may have the following characteristics:

  1. Histories of childhood maltreatment, including sexual victimization
  2. Mental health symptoms, personality disorders, and substance abuse problems
  3. Difficulties in intimate relationships, or an absence of intimate relationships
  4. A propensity to primarily victimize children and adolescents (rarely adults)
  5. A tendency to commit offenses against persons who are related or otherwise well known to them
  6. An increased likelihood of perpetrating sex offenses in concert with a male intimate partner

Certainly, not all of these characteristics apply to all sexually abusive women, and there are additional features and offense patterns that have been identified in some studies but not in others.

  • As a means of further categorizing groups of female sex offenders based on potential commonalities, a few professionals have attempted to identify typologies of sexually abusive women (Mathews, Matthews, & Speltz, 1989; Nathan & Ward, 2002; Vandiver & Kercher, 2004). In the seminal work of Mathews and her colleagues – which remains the most influential and commonly cited framework for female sex offender typologies – three primary subtypes emerged (Mathews et al., 1989)
  1. Male-coerced: These women tended to be passive and dependent individuals with histories of sexual abuse and relationship difficulties. Fearing abandonment, they were pressured by male partners to commit sex offenses, often against their own children.
  2. Predisposed: Histories of incestuous sexual victimization, psychological difficulties, and deviant sexual fantasies were common among these women, who generally acted alone in their offending. They tended to victimize their own children or other young children within their families.
  3. Teacher/lover: At the time of their offending, women in this subtype were often struggling with peer relationships, seemed to regress and perceive themselves as having romantic or sexually mentoring “relationships” with under-aged adolescent victims of their sexual preference, and, therefore, did not consider their acts to be criminal in nature.

As the authors acknowledged, these original typologies were not statistically generated and were based largely on the clinical observations of a sample of only 16 women, thus limiting the ability to generalize the findings to the larger population of female sex offenders. However, subsequent investigations have continued to support their applicability (Matthews, 1998; Nathan & Ward, 2002; Vandiver & Kercher, 2004).

Most recently, Vandiver and Kercher (2004) added considerably to the research by employing a statistical approach to identify subtypes, using the largest sample of female sex offenders to date. From the over 450 female sex offenders in the study, six statistically-derived clusters were revealed, some of which were consistent with the Mathews et al. (1989) typologies.

  • Co-Offending Women Versus Solo Female Offenders

Particularly unique to female-perpetrated sex offenses is the increased potential for a male co-offender. Until recently, little was known about the differences between male-accompanied female sex offenders and women who acted alone. In a comparative study of over 200 female sex offenders, several differences were identified (Vandiver, 2006).
Specifically, co-offending women were more likely than female solo offenders to”

  1. Have multiple young victims
  2. Victimize females – or both females and males – as opposed to males only
  3. Target family members including their own children, versus solo offenders, who often target acquaintances
  4. Have been charged with non-sex crimes at the same time the sex offense charge occurred.
  • Adolescents: Characteristics and Typologies

Perhaps even more so than with adult female sex offenders, the research on adolescent girls who commit sex offenses is very limited.
Thus far, researchers have revealed the following common characteristics (see Bumby & Bumby, 2004; Frey, 2006; Hunter et al., 2006; and Robinson, 2006 for reviews):

  1. High prevalence of sexual victimization
  2. Instability and dysfunction within the family and home
  3. Co-occurring psychiatric disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  4. Victimizing young children within the family or with whom they are familiar
  5. Targeting victims of either gender
  6. Acting alone, often offending within the context of care-giving activities

Based on the current available literature, it appears that many of the characteristics of adolescent female sex offenders parallel those of their adult counterparts, although further research that explicitly examines their unique developmental circumstances is needed.

In terms of typology research, only one published study has offered a differentiation between subgroups of adolescent girls who have committed sex offenses (Mathews, Hunter, & Vuz, 1997).

The following three preliminary subtypes were identified from the sample of 67 adolescent females

  1. Those who engaged in a limited number of incidents against a non-related child within the context of babysitting. They were relatively inexperienced, naïve, and somewhat fearful with respect to sexual matters, and their offending behaviors appeared to be motivated primarily by experimentation or curiosity. Histories of maltreatment, family dysfunction, and psychological difficulties were fairly limited within this subtype.
  2. Girls who appeared to be sexually reactive, generally abusing younger children in a manner that mirrored their own victimization. Although some in this subtype evidenced emotional, psychological, and other difficulties, these issues generally were not severe, and many of these youth possessed adequate social skills and other personality strengths.
  3. Adolescent females who engaged in more extensive and repetitive sex offending behaviors and who manifested much greater levels of emotional and psychosexual disturbance. Many had experienced considerable developmental trauma, including sexual victimization often beginning at an early age, which likely contributed to their significant difficulties with adjustment and stability.

Resources For Offenders

  • CORE Professional Services, Counseling for offending behaviors

St. Cloud, MN

  • Project Pathfinder, Sex Offender treatment and evaluations

Minneapolis, MN

  • Program for Human Sexuality-counseling for individuals with sexual behavior problems

Minneapolis, MN

For a list of professionals who can help individuals dealing with sexual behavior problems call

Stop It NOW! Minnesota at 1-888-773-8368

There are also several links to websites for more information under the section titled, “Related Links.”