Over the past five or six decades, no other offender type has been under more scrutiny from researchers than sex offenders have been.
One striking observation that can be made is that while sex offenders have been described in so many ways along so many dimensions and factors, comparatively speaking, the very behavior that clinical researchers aimed to explain, sexual offending, has been largely neglected.
More precisely, these earlier studies showed some discrepancies across child molester types. (1991) study, the self-reported age of onset was 24 years old for extra-familial offenders against boys, 25 years old for extra-familial offenders against girls, and 33 years old for incestuous fathers.
Similar numbers were reported by Smallbone and Wortley (2004) suggesting that the onset of extra-familial child molestation starts sooner than the onset of intrafamilial child molestation.
Although there is a long history of criminal career research with the publication of Criminal Careers and Career Criminals in 1986 by Dr.
Al Blumstein and colleagues, such a framework was introduced to the field of criminal justice and criminology.These controversies certainly did not help to challenge common myths and false beliefs about sex offenders’ criminal behavior which have, in some instances, serve as the foundation to develop new criminal justice policies to tackle the problem of sexual violence and abuse.The current study aims to introduce the criminal career approach and, in doing so, aims to provide a common organizing framework for policy makers as well as researchers from various disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, sociology, social work, criminal justice, and criminology.These differences may be explained by opportunity structure of the offense as one needs to have a biological child to offend against him or her.These studies used retrospective data to estimate the age at which adult sex offenders started their offending behavior.The issue of dangerousness has been addressed by examining sex offenders’ likelihood of sexual recidivism using different methodologies.These descriptive studies of sex offenders’ criminal records were not supported by an organizing conceptual framework which led to the emergence of controversies among researchers about sex offenders’ nature and extent of their criminal behavior.Early studies looking at the onset of sex offending has described adult sex offenders as grown-up juvenile sex offenders.For example, in the Prentky and Knight study (1993), 49 % of their sample of adult rapists reported an onset prior age 18, while the rest of the sample reported an onset in adulthood.The criminal career approach is concerned with the description and explanation of the longitudinal sequence of offending.While the criminal career approach has been around for quite some time in criminological circles, it would take some time, however, before this framework would be introduced more explicitly to the field of sexual violence and abuse (Blokland and Lussier 2012; Lussier et al. Building on the criminal career approach proposed by Blumstein and colleagues, the current review examines the current state of knowledge regarding the criminal activity of sex offenders.