Adolescents responsible for many rape, child molestation cases

Sexual assaults committed by youth are a growing concern in this country. Currently, it is estimated that adolescents ages 13 to 17 account for up to one-fifth of all rapes and one-half of all cases of child molestation committed each year. In 1995, youth were involved in 15 percent of all forcible rapes cleared by arrest’approximately 18 adolescents per 100,000 were arrested for forcible rape. In the same year, approximately 16,100 adolescents were arrested for sexual offenses, not including rape and prostitution. The majority of these incidents of sexual abuse involved adolescent male perpetrators. However, young males who have not yet reached puberty also engage in sexually abusive behaviors. When dealing with child sex abuse, generally the perpetrators are friends and family members and not strangers. Between 1991 and 1996, juvenile acquaintances ages 12 to 17 and family members age 25 or older were the most common offenders in sexual assaults against very young children (those ages 6 and younger). Not all juvenile sexual offenders are victims of child sexual abuse and grow up to be adult sex offenders. Multiple factors, not just sexual victimization as a child, are associated with the development of sexually offending behavior in youth. Recent studies show that rates of physical and sexual abuse vary widely for adolescent sex offenders; 20 to 50 percent of these youth experienced physical abuse and approximately 40 to 80 percent experienced sexual abuse. While many adolescents who commit sexual offenses have histories of being abused, the majority do not become adult sex offenders. Research suggests that the age of onset and number of incidents of abuse, the period of time elapsing between the abuse and its first report, perceptions of how the family responded to the disclosure of abuse, and exposure to domestic violence are all relevant to why some sexually abused youths go on to sexually perpetrate while others do not. This past legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed many new laws that will benefit all survivors of rape’young and old. These new laws will go into effect Sept. 1. The legislature gave a $5 million increase in funding for the 70 rape crisis programs throughout the state of Texas. This is a 416% increase in funding from the state for local programs and is the first increase for these programs in a decade. The statue of limitations for bringing a rapist to justice has been extended from 5 to 10 years. If DNA evidence is collected in the case, then the statue of limitations is unlimited. Current law provides a longer statute for writing a bad check than rape! Finally, victims of dating violence will be able to apply for and possible obtain a protective order. Prior law limited the availability of protective orders to abuse that fit within the definition of family violence. Courtesy of Texas association against Sexual Assault

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