An exploration of adolescents' thoughts about their sexually abusive behaviour : a qualitative study
This study aimed to explore adolescent sex offenders' thoughts about their sexuallyabusive behaviour and to understand their perspective of cognitive distortion using Interpretative Phenomenology qualitative methodology. Five participants convicted of indecent assault, attempted rape or rape were recruited from two sites and consented to participate in the study. A semi-structured interview schedule was used to elicit the adolescents' thoughts and experience with regards to their sexual offending which was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Analysis indicated that a disintegrated/dissociated 'sense of self resulting from abandonment, neglect and the absence of good enough parenting partially underpinned adolescents' sexual offending behaviour. Cognition had a specific role in the process of sexual offending that was related to own victimisation. The results indicate a role of social-learning mechanisms in the process of sexual offending by adolescents and highlight the likely differences that may be evident between this population and models of understanding adult sex offenders. Regret and Guilt alongside attempts to understand the abusing aspects of self are relevant for treatment interventions. Clinical implications of the findings and directions for future research are discussed.