Although there are many myths regarding sex offenders and sex crimes, one myth is embedded in most of them: all sex offenders are the same. Throughout all of the subsequent chapters, research is presented that highlights that sex offenders are heterogeneous (i.e., vary in their characteristics and behaviors). They are a diverse group of offenders. They vary a great deal in their characteristics, from young to old, and having no job skills to having highly trained positions, such as teacher, coach, or professional sports figure. They vary in their victim choice, from choosing a child or an adult, someone they know, or someone they have never met. And they vary in how they approach their victims, from years of slowly eroding boundaries to a split-second attack. This textbook is laid out by addressing various overarching myths regarding sex crimes and sex offenders.

Myths About the Number of, and Trends Associated with, Sex Offenders

As discussed in this chapter, much information refutes common beliefs about who is a sex offender, how many there are, and what the trends show. Sex offenders are diverse: male, female, young, old, wealthy, poor, employed, and unemployed. As revealed from a brief examination of the table of contents, sex offenders commit diverse crimes (sexual assault, child molesting, and child pornography) and affect a wide range of victims. Given the media attention that sex crimes and sex offenders receive, it is no wonder why it is believed that sex crime rates are high and continue to increase (Center for Sex Offender Management, 2000). This is refuted in this chapter by closely examining sex-crime and sex-offender estimates from various sources. Like all other violent crimes, sex crimes have been decreasing recently. Also, it has been (wrongly) proposed that all sex offenders re-offend (Center for Sex Offender Management, 2000). Research, however, shows that a small portion of convicted sex offenders commit subsequent sex crimes.

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