Sex Offender Recidivism: A Simple Question
This study examines sexual recidivism, as expressed by new charges or convictions for sexual
offences, using the data from 10 follow-up studies of adult male sexual offenders (combined sample of
4,724). Results indicated that most sexual offenders do not re-offend sexually, that first-time sexual
offenders are significantly less likely to sexually re-offend than those with previous sexual
convictions, and that offenders over the age of 50 are less likely to re-offend than younger offenders.
In addition, it was found that the longer offenders remained offence-free in the community the less
likely they are to re-offend sexually. Data shows that rapists, incest offenders, “girl-victim” child
molesters, and “boy-victim” child molesters recidivate at significantly different rates. These results
challenge some commonly held beliefs about sexual recidivism and have implications for policies
designed to manage the risk posed by convicted sexual offenders.