Intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders: Family functioning and treatment

J.A. Thornton, G. Stevens, J. Grant, David Indermaur, C. Chamarette, A. Halse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the families of intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders attending a community-based treatment program. Qualitative and quantitative data were used to measure family functioning before and after 12 months of treatment.Families were characterised as disorganised, uncommunicative and adversarial. Most of the young offenders, many of whom were themselves victims of abuse, came from step, blended or foster families. Seventy-four percent had no, or minimal, contact with at least one biological parent.Conflicts between family members were rarely resolved satisfactorily. After treatment, interviewees reported better family communication and fewer conflicts; there were also significant improvements on a measure of family functioning.Adolescents and their parents reported improvements in self-control, social skills and emotional regulation. Improvements were more likely when at least one parent was engaged in treatment. These findings emphasise the need for treatment to target parents as well as the adolescent offender when intrafamilial sexual abuse occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-375
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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