Title page for ETD etd-05112010-191255

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Harris, Tara Farrer
Email tara@whps.co.za
URN etd-05112010-191255
Document Title A psychocriminological investigation into risk factors contributing to youth sex offending
Degree Master of Arts
Department Social Work and Criminology
Advisor Name Title
Prof C Bezuidenhout Supervisor
  • interpretive phenomenological analysis
  • IPA
  • integrated theories
  • qualitative research
  • Psychocriminology
  • youth sex offender
  • risk factors
  • individual level risk factors
  • psychological theories
  • social theories
  • social level risk factors
Date 2010-04-12
Availability unrestricted

Youth sex offenders are not a homogenous population. They differ in terms of race, social class, victim preferences (both in terms of age and in terms of whether the victim is known to the offender or not), their modus operandi to gain compliance, levels of aggression and physical violence, the types (“hands on” or “hands off”) and levels (level 1, 2, or 3) of offences and lastly their motivations for committing a sex offence. The motivations are linked to the risk factors to which an individual is exposed, for example, a youth that was previously sexually victimised could sexually act out his experiences.

A qualitative approach was used in this study. The researcher aimed to gain a holistic comprehension of the risk factors that youth attribute to their sex offending behaviour and thus this was the most appropriate approach to use. A semi-structured interview schedule was used as the data collection method as this allowed the researcher the freedom to change the sequence and forms of the questions in order to follow up on responses. The function of this interview schedule was to direct the researcher to ensure that she covered all the themes needed to obtain the necessary data. The interview schedule was made up of nine categories, namely: biographic characteristics, academic performance, extramural activities, substance use, family substance use problems, family and community violence, emotional status, caring and attachment to family and peers, sexual abuse and knowledge about sex.

After the interviews were conducted, the data was transcribed, analysed and interpreted. The researcher made use of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to determine the emergent themes. The researcher eliminated the emergent themes that were impossible to label, or those deemed to be irrelevant to the study. Thereafter, the researcher clustered the emergent themes into sub-ordinate themes and validated these main and sub-ordinate themes. The researcher then provided a textural description to depict the experience and a structural description to depict the possible explanation of the experience of the respondents. Finally, a composite description provided the structure for the interpretation of the data. The researcher interpreted the main and sub-ordinate themes with relation to the literature review and the theories deemed useful in explaining the risk factors associated with youth sex offending, namely: Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of personality development, Albert Bandura’s social cognition theory, William Marshall and Howard Barbaree’s integrated theory, and Neil Malamuth’s confluence model of sexual aggression.

The analysis and interpretation of the data revealed certain possible risk factors that could contribute to the phenomenon of youth sex offending in South Africa. The researcher provided possible methods of addressing these risk factors. The dearth of knowledge regarding the phenomenon of youth sex offending highlights the need for further research and the researcher made several recommendations regarding future research prospects in order to address this social problem and to give youth sex offenders the best chance of adopting pro-social behaviour.

Copyright © 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Harris, TF 2009, A psychocriminological investigation into risk factors contributing to youth sex offending, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05112010-191255/ >

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