Myths and Facts

There are many myths surrounding sex offenders, often created by highly publicized cases in the media.  This has led to commonly held beliefs that are not based in fact and can actually decrease public safety.

 
The Rule of 90
 
The "Rule of 90" helps clear up the myths surrounding sex offenders.  Extensive research shows that approximately:
  • 90 percent of sex offenders who have completed their sentence and have re-entered society will not have another sexual offense [1]  
  • 90 percent of sexual abuse victims know their abuser [2] [4].  
  • 90 percent of convicted sex offenders are first-time offenders. [7]
These statistics are important when considering how to best prevent sexual abuse.  The fear of "stranger danger" or of convicted sex offenders living in the community causes many people to overlook the fact that the perpetrator of a sexual offense is most likely to be a family member, friend, or someone the victim knows and trusts. 
 
Myths about sex offenders can also lead to public policy and community action that is primarily focused on convicted sex offenders, which does very little to prevent sexual abuse and can actually decrease public safety. 
 
As noted by the Center for Sex Offender Management, many laws focused on sex offenders -- such as community notification and residency restrictions -- have the potential to create a false sense of security because they imply that the greatest risk of victimization comes from strangers and that most sexually abusive individuals have been apprehended.  Neither is true. 
 
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One of the biggest myths is that sex offenders are likely to repeat their offense.  In reality:

  •  Convicted sex offenders have very low recidivism rates.[1]  Most are unlikely to commit another sexual offense.

By focusing the majority of concern on convicted sex offenders, community members risk overlooking important public safety facts:

  •  90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.[2]  Most often the abuser is a family member, friend, or someone with authority over the child.

Frequently, the abuser is an older child or adolescent:

  • Up to forty-percent of reported sexual assaults against children are attributable to juvenile abusers.[3]

The statistics are similar for sexual assaults against adults:

  •  90% of adult sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.[4]

Another myth is that sex offender treatment doesn't work.  In fact:

  • Research studies have shown that offenders who complete treatment have much lower recidivism rates than those who do not.[5]  One local study found that offenders who had completed treatment had recidivism rates of less than 3 percent for another sexual offense.[6]     

The many myths surrounding sex offenders often make it hard for them to find jobs, housing, and community services once they re-enter society. 

 

Unfortunately, the harder our community makes it for them to find stability, the more likely it is that they will re-offend.  

 

A person who is homeless, unemployed, and lacking positive social support is more likely to re-offend than someone with stable housing, a secure job, and a strong support network.

 

Unless and until we debunk the myths surrounding sex offenders, we will not be able to create a community that wisely focuses its resources on ensuring stability for sex offenders and preventing further sexual abuse.



 
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MNSORP does not engage in direct lobbying or legislative activities, although individual members or organizations may be involved in issues advocacy .  However, we do believe it is important for citizens and community leaders to understand the facts surrounding sexual offenders. 
 
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