The life experiences of adolescent sexual offenders : factors within the family that contribute to offending behaviours.
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This study was conceptualised to explore the life experiences of adolescent sex offenders with the aim of obtaining insight into factors that contributed to their sexually offensive behaviour, especially those factors within the context of the family. The study was approached from an ecosystemic perspective to probe circumstances within and outside the family that may have had an impact on the functioning of the family. The research was characterised by qualitative research methodology. A predominant feature that emerged in the study was the exposure of the adolescent to abusive situations. However, this was not the only contributory factor to sexual offending and had to be seen in the context of the adolescents' ability to cope with the abuse. The characteristics of the individual and familial factors were identified. The study reflected the complex and compelling situations of the adolescent offender. The process of data collation was a comprehensive, intensive process. The sensitivity of the issue required the development of a trusting, long-term relationship to ensure the gradual disclosure of intimate information about the self and family. Data was obtained through 25 case studies, all of which were male, as male sexual offenders constitute the dominant population at Childline Family Centre, KwaZulu-Natal. The adolescent, family members and other referral sources of information were interviewed to compile the in-depth and rich information obtained in the analysis. The therapeutic group, which all the adolescent offenders were involved in, was also used as a context for data gathering. Data were thus obtained over an extended period of time. The QSR NUD*IST software programme was used as a tool to analyse the large quantity of data that the interviews yielded. It is based upon these insights that recommendations were made for the way forward.