Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders




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Sex Offenders



Five Surprising Facts About Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders


Crimes committed by sex offenders are relatively common in the United States with one out of every five females and one out of every seven males being the victim of sexual abuse at some point during childhood. Although they occur so frequently there are many things about sex crimes and the sex offenders who commit them that continue to surprise people. Here are five surprising facts:

1. Very few arrests are made for sex offenses

Only about 1 percent of the total arrests made in this country are of sex offenders even though so many individuals are known to be victims of sexual assaults or sexual abuse. The low percentage of arrests is because only 30 percent of sex crimes are reported to the police. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Fear of retaliation by the sex offender
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Fear of being blamed for what happened
  • Concern that police or others will not believe them

There are approximately 150,000 inmates in prisons throughout the country who are there because they are convicted sex offenders. Up to 20,000 sex offenders are released from prison each year and allowed to return to their communities.

2. Children are the primary victims

It is estimated that 67 percent of sexual assault victims are children with females being the target of sex crimes at a rate that is at least six times greater than males. A fact that many people find surprising is that only about a quarter of the sex offenders committing the crimes are strangers to their victims. Most sex offenders are family members, friends, partners or acquaintances of their victims.

3. Juvenile sex offenders make up about 20 percent of total arrests for sex crimes

Sex offenders under 18 years of age are responsible for about 11,500 rapes and other sex crimes each year. Of the juvenile sex offenders arrested each year by the police, about 90 percent of them are male.

Only about 10 percent of the juvenile sex offenders who are arrested and required to undergo treatment are arrested again for committing sex crimes. The recidivism rate for adult sex offenders is more than double that of juvenile offenders.

4. Sex offenders who prey on children rarely use force

Deception and enticement are the methods of choice used by most sex offenders whose victims are children. The sexual abuse or misconduct usually is the result of a lengthy period of building up the relationship between the sex offenders and their victims.

5. Notification programs make the public aware of sex offenders in the community

Some people may not realize the amount of information available to them about sex offenders living in their city or town. Officials use state laws requiring sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies to compile the information into a data base that can be accessed through a website by members of the public. This information allows people to obtain information about sex offenders who might be living near them.

Besides monitoring the whereabouts of sex offenders, state registration laws generally provide for written notification to neighbors and school officials when sex offenders are living nearby. Fliers, notices in local newspapers and letters to residents are some of the methods used to notify members of the community about the presence of registered sex offenders.


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