Learning disabled child sex offenders : sexual knowledge, locus of control, and attitudes consistent with sex offending
Previous research indicated that sex offending against children, by people with or
without a learning disability, is a serious problem. Our current understanding and
treatment of learning disabled sex offenders has been adapted from literature
concerning non-learning disabled sex offenders. There is limited empirical support
for this. Additionally, variations between these populations suggest that this may not
be appropriate. Three variables of interest arose from the literature due to their
questionable empirical support, and their salience in current theory and practice:
general sexual knowledge, locus of control, and attitudes consistent with sex
offending. It was hypothesised that if adaptation was appropriate, these variables
should distinguish between learning disabled sex offenders and non-offenders.
A between groups design, employing structured questionnaire methodology,
investigated differences between nineteen learning disabled sex offenders and
eighteen learning disabled non-offenders, on the variables of interest.
Participants did not differ significantly on sexual knowledge, except on two subsections
(Physiology: Pictures and Sexuality). There was no difference between
participants on either locus of control or attitudes consistent with sex offending.
Further analysis showed no relationship between the variables of interest and eitherFull Scale IQ, Frequency of Offending, or Participation in Treatment. Concerns were
raised over the clinical implications of these findings.
The results questioned meaningfulness of adopting aspects of the non-learning
disabled sex offending literature for the learning disabled population. No evidence
supported the conjectured link between sexual knowledge and sex offending in the
learning disabled population. Sex offenders and non-offenders were not
distinguished by either locus of control or attitudes consistent with sex offending. It
was suggested that research should further investigate the evidence base adapted to
the non-learning disabled population, in order to provide appropriate empirical
support for the theory and treatment of this complex group