Sunday, March 5, 2017

37 "Scarey" Repeat Sex Offenders Statistics, Debunked And Fact-Checked

Um, Say What?

So, I was looking for a replication of a study I constantly cite (again, to no avail), and came across this article. Now granted, it is two years old, but I figured that it could use a little bit of updating, and since I know a lot about this topic and I have not written anything for a month... One of the biggest criticisms I have for this article is that it cites no sources for its numerous "facts" so there is no way to identify which come from studies unless you are familiar with the research. Since I am familiar with some of the research, I will take a stab at this.


In their one-paragraph introduction, they give wrong information. Current laws do not, in fact, make it impossible for sex offenders to live or work near places where children congregate and the laws that do have been shown to be ineffective. They also state that a sex offender can easily become a repeat offender, despite citing no evidence to that effect (the average recidivism rate for sex offenders committing new sexual crimes is around 12%, which means that 88% of sex offenders never commit another sex crime). But then, the post was written by someone at "Health Research Funding", so it must be right, you might think. Well, their introduction paragraph has two wrong facts right off the bat.

Health Research Funding's List Of Alternative Facts

So, to their list. It would be tedious to give each statistic a heading, so I will have their alternative facts in the far-left numbers that progress, and the reaction to that fact in the little "1" under their "facts".

  1. The total number of registered sex offenders that are currently in the United States: 747,000.
    1. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children puts this number at 859,500 as of December 6, 2016.
  2. 33% of the registered sex offenders that are in the US right now are under the supervision of a corrections agency.
    1. Since they cite no source for this, there is no way to verify this statistic, nor is there any way to determine if the supervision they mention is probation or parole.
  3. The average age of a rapist is 31-years-old and 52.2% of them are white males.
    1. As a small percentage of sex offenders (less than 30%, since 66% of sex offenders are those with offenses against children) are rapists, this fact is misleading. 
  4. An estimated 24% of those serving time for rape and 19% of those serving time for sexual assault had been on probation or parole at the time of their repeat offense.
    1. See previous answer: They are talking about a minute fraction of sex offenders, certainly not the majority. Since there is no way to verify this list, 
  5. Only 2% of the Catholic clergy sexual abusers were ever jailed, despite over 10,000 victims and an estimated 4,300 total abusers.
    1. There is no way to verify if this is true, but given the coverups and overall statistics about underreporting, it would not surprise me if this were accurate.
  6. An adolescent sex offender who does not receive treatment will commit an estimated 380 sex crimes over their lifetime.
    1. This is hogwash that is based on a hogwash study that was debunked some time ago. Here, you can see a therapist address this. 
  7. 1 out of every 2 child molestations that occurs are perpetrated by an adolescent male.
    1. A study in the Juvenile Justice Bulletin done in 2009 puts this figure at 35.6%, not half. 
  8. Offenders with a previous sex offense conviction have a 37% re-offense rate.
    1. Overall sex offender recidivism for general crimes is 30-40%, while sexual recidivism is around 12%. 
  9. Rapists repeat their offenses at rates up to 35%.
    1. See above. Also, this study found that rapists repeat sexual crimes at a rate of 18.9%, not 35%, and rapists repeat general crimes at a rate around 46.2%. 
  10. Sex offenders who are attracted to boys are the most likely to re-offend in some sex crime which may include rape, molestation, or a violent act.
    1. Sex offenders who are attracted to children in general works out to be .05764% of the entire US population (compared to .262% of the population that are sex offenders, and .17292% of the population are sex offenders with an offense against a child). 17% of girls are abused, and 7% of boys are abused sexually, so the percentage 
  11. The percentage of second sex offenses that occur while the offender is living in a supervised community: 60%.
    1. Again, there is no source for this, and given that most sex offenders do not reoffend sexually (most being, on average, 88%, see number 8), this would be talking about 7.2% of sex offenders if true.
  12. It costs $22,000 per year in order to incarcerate a sex offender.
    1. According to this source, it costs on average, $31,307 to incarcerate an inmate, and according to The New York Times, that same figure is $31,286. Suffice it to say that this figure seems low, and without a study or jurisdiction, I call hogwash.
  13. For children between the ages of 12-15, about one third of all the sex offenses that occur are from a male perpetrator who is of the same age.
    1. At what point to we call this a sex offense? Is it the child or children who has a problem with this same-age sexual behavior, or the parents and the police? In some states, any sexual activity between two children of the same age is illegal no matter what.
  14. 43% of the sexual assaults that occur happen within a 6 hour window that begins at 6pm and ends at midnight.
    1. No source, and I am unfamiliar with statistics about sexual assault.
  15. The percentage of sex crimes that occur to children under the age of 6 by an adolescent under the age of 18: 40%.
    1. According to this study, page 7, 57.1% of such crimes are perpetrated by offenders 12 years old or younger, and 21% of such crimes are perpetrated by offenders 12-18 years old.
  16. The average amount of jail time that a sex offender will serve out of their average 8 year prison sentence: 3.5 years.
    1. In other words, it takes the justice system an average of 3.5 years from the time they are first arrested and go to jail, to convict a sex offender and send them to prison? This is either poorly worded or wrong. If true, it would mean that most justice systems are violating sex offenders' right to a speedy trial, and I doubt that kind of constitutional violation is occurring on such a wide scale.
  17. 30% of the children who are abused sexually will become sex offenders later on in their adult life.
    1. See next fact, and answer this: If a third of victims actually go on to abuse, why are only one-third of sexual abusers found to have been abused? Those numbers do not add up.
  18. Although two thirds of sex offenders during an interview state that they were abused as children, only 29% of them are found to be telling the truth during a lie detector test.
    1. This has been shown by research to be correct, only the number is 50% and drops to 30-40% depending on which study you consult. Relying on one study for a statistic like this is deceptive at best.
  19. 80% of the girls who are sexually molested had a perpetrator that was someone which they new.
    1. First, please learn how to spell, folks. New is not knew. Second, 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser, not 80%
  20. The percentage of boys who knew the perpetrator that molested them: 93%.
    1. See above response.
  21. Approximately 47% of people are victimized by their family or their extended family.
    1. The last I looked at this figure, it was 30%, not 47%. 
  22. Repeat sex offenders in one study used romantic relationships with women to gain access to the women’s children.
    1. One study does not make the norm, and given that most new sex offenses are not committed by registered sex offenders but by those new to the criminal justice system, this is questionable. 
  23. Only 2.7% of the total number of sex offenders are estimated to commit another sex crime after being released from jail.
    1. If only 2.7% of sex offenders reoffend after being released from jail, then they contradicted their own fact- number 8, which claims that sex offenders have a 37% recidivism rate.
  24. The percentage of sex offenders that will commit another crime, non-sexual in nature, after being released from jail: 70%.
    1. Most studies on recidivism show that a sex offender will usually recidivate with a non-sexual crime, so this is likely true. I do not see how it is a scary repeat sex offender statistic, however.
  25. The state of Delaware has the highest rate of sex offenders, with a rate of 517 per 100,000 in general population.
    1. The state of Delaware has 507 per 100,000 people, and the highest rate is actually found at 718 in Oregon. 
  26. It isn’t just men who are sex offenders. 2% of the sex offender registry in New York State are women.
    1. Women have always accounted for a small percentage of sexual crimes. What is not here is that they typically receive more lenient sentences also.
  27. Pennsylvania has the lowest rate of sexual offenders: 94 per 100,000.
    1. 157 per 100,000 people, and the lowest rate within the 50 states is actually 113, and that is in Maryland.
  28. Studies have found that contemporary cognitive-behavioral treatment does help to reduce rates of sexual re-offending by as much as 40%.
    1. This means that sex offender treatment is effective at reducing recidivism. How is that scary, I wonder? I have seen studies that claim much the same, so this is actually a fact.
  29. Over a 5 year period, recidivism rates can be as low as 14% in some jurisdictions.
    1. Which jurisdictions? Cite your source, and frankly, given the numbers I have seen in individual jurisdictions (for example, Wisconsin is 6% after 15 years and 1.5% after 3, and Minnesota is 7% after 8 years)
  30. First-time offenders are less likely to create a repeat sexual offense than those who have already committed a second or third repeat sexual offense.
    1. Again, I fail to see how this is a scary repeat sex offender statistic. However, this is true and verified by the statement of R. Karl Hanson.
  31. Only 10% of all sex crimes actually result in a criminal conviction.
    1. Sex crimes are well-known for having low conviction rates because of the myth that victims are lying, and the fact that victim testimony is usually the only evidence available. 
  32. The cost savings per year to place a sex offender into a comprehensive treatment program instead of jail: $15,000 per offender.
    1. Without a source, I cannot verify this. But given that their earlier fact 28 shows a significant drop in recidivism with treatment, and low recidivism overall, this is a good thing: Treatment, as they just showed, is better than incarceration. 
  33. The average number of victims for a pedophile who prefers boys over girls: over 100.
    1. See fact number 6, and this source. This is wrong.
  34. It is not unusual for a sex offender to spend years developing a trustworthy reputation so that they can be near children and commit an offense that many just cannot believe.
    1. Around 66% of sex offenders, as discussed in fact number 3, have offenses against children. Also, most sex offenses are committed by first-time offenders. So this "fact" is not only not true for all sex offenders, this is not true for most child sexual abuse cases, because sex offenders are not responsible. It is true that sexual abusers (not sex offenders) spend anywhere from weeks to years grooming their victim, and the signs of grooming are a reliable indicator, but looking only at sex offenders is a mistake.
  35. Only 33% of the sex offenses that occur to children between the ages of 12-19 are ever reported. This is half of the amount of sex offenses that are reported when the victim is between the ages of 35-49.
    1. Most studies put the reporting rate for child sexual abuse at 38-50%, not 33%.
  36. Although 50 percent of violent crime victims over the age of 12 contact police, only 36 percent of sexual assault victims over the age of 12 report the crime to authorities.
    1. So what? This is not scary, what is scary is that, according to their own statistics, child sexual abuse is not reported more than it is reported, which means that the bigger risk comes from people who have never been caught.
  37. Only about 30% of rapes are ever reported to police. Research indicates that sex offenses are one of the most underreported crimes that happen.
    1. According to RAINN, this is true. It is also true that of the 310/1000 victims of rape, only 6 will result in an incarcerated rapist, and only 7 will result in a felony conviction.
The Rest Of Their Information

The rest of their information is shady. They state that no one is safe from being targeted by a sex offender (as if sex offenders are the biggest threat, when they are not), and discuss what qualifies as a sex crime and the effects victimization can have (very, very briefly). They state that "virtually every pedophile will become a child molester" (which, as I have discussed before, is a myth that does not stand up to looking at the facts and statistics available on the matter: At worst, only 3-5.2% of pedophiles do molest children, and adjusting for underreporting, at least 74.4% of pedophiles do not molest children).

They discuss underreporting as the most significant issue to sex crimes (while it is a big deal, the bigger deal is that we spend a hugely disproportionate amount of our efforts on a population that does not commit sex crimes: Sex offenders). They discuss being vigilant, and note "listen for your kids in your backyard" and "don't let them wander off in a store all alone" when 80% of child sexual abuse happens in the residence (page 3) of the victim or perpetrator, not outside or in a store. So their idea of vigilance, and the bulk of their facts, do not stand up to reality.

I conclude that whoever wrote the article had no idea what they were talking about, and while they seemed to be well-intentioned, spreading myths about sex crimes is a surefire way to enable them to happen. When we listen for our children in the backyard rather than focusing on the warning behaviors in potential abusers, we fool ourselves into thinking everything is okay. Facts protect children. Myths do not.

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