Research turns image of typical sex offender on its head

May 8th, 2009 - 2:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 8 (IANS) Latest research has turned the image of the typical sex offender as a shaky loner on its head.
Philip Birch, lecturer in social sciences, University of New South Wales (UNSW), carried out research comparing a sample of sex and non-sex offenders.

Contrary to popular belief, he found that sex offenders often displayed behavioural patterns just as secure as that of the non-offenders.

“Earlier research found a strong relationship between sexual offending, insecure attachment styles and high levels of emotional loneliness,” explains Birch, who has also worked in the prison service and in policy development.

“If we understand that attachment styles can change, it helps us to understand that any of us, in certain circumstances, could be a sex offender,” he says.

Attachment (relations between individuals) styles seem to develop during a critical period in childhood, between the ages of six to 24 months.

If insecure attachments are formulated during this time, an individual could grow up to have poor intimacy skills and an inability to relate to others, said an UNSW release.

Birch says his work has implications for the formulation of risk assessments and treatment approaches for offenders.

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