Within the last fifteen years, the once prominent view of "boys-will-be-boys" has been replaced by recognition that juvenile sex offenders create a risk to society worthy of serious concern (Hunter, Figueredo, Malamuth, & Becker, 2003; Barbaree & Cortoni, 1993) and eliciting concern from community, clinical, legal, and research quarters (Barbaree, Hudson, & Seto, 1993). Therefore, perceptions of adolescent sexuality as deviant rather than an integral aspect of human development continues to be debated. This paper will contribute to professional understanding of attitudes and biases that psychologists may harbor towards adolescents who portray sexual behavior. Topics discussed throughout this paper include, an introduction to the juvenile legal system, adolescent sexual behavior, normal versus deviant sexual behavior, causes of juvenile sexual offending, re-offensive behavior, and treatment interventions.
Since psychologists are often the public voice for their respective groups, preconceived notions can adversely influence assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning and outcome; at worst, referred patients might be rejected upon referral for assessment or treatment (Imhof, 1991; Chappel & Schnoll, 1977). Therefore, in the assessment of juvenile sex offenders, distinctions between normal and deviant sexual development may guide clinicians in better predicting juveniles at greater risk for repetitive sexual offending. Understanding what appears sexually normal is important to judiciously apply stigmatization and criminalization of juveniles.