When it comes to sex crimes, the general public has a lot of misconceptions – especially about those who reoffend. While surveys have indicated that the general public believes 75 percent of sex offenders will reoffend, scientific evidence suggests differently. A large-scale quantitative review by Public Safety Canada found a 14 percent recidivism rate over a period averaging five to six years.
Additionally, fully half of the general public believe that treatment for sex offenders has no effect and will not keep them from reoffending. Once again, however, studies indicate otherwise. Research has shown that treatment can substantially reduce sex offender recidivism rates. In fact, the review by PSC concluded that only 10 percent of treated subjects reoffended.
Most treatment approaches employ two main components; 1) cognitive-behavior therapy which strives to alter sexually deviant thoughts, behaviors, and arousal patterns, and 2) relapse prevention which teaches offenders to predict and cope with emotions that might lead to reoffending.
While treatment development for sex offenders is still in the preliminary stages, research has documented its effectiveness. Not all sex offenders are destined to reoffend, and by supporting further research on therapies, the public, legislators, and policy leaders can foster hope.