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An Exploration of Protective Factors Supporting Desistance From Sexual Offending

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This article considers factors that support or assist desistance from sexual offending in those who have previously offended. Current risk assessment tools for sexual offending focus almost exclusively on assessing factors that raise the risk for offending. The aim of this study was to review the available literature on protective factors supporting desistance from sexual offending. This article discusses the potential value of incorporating protective factors into the assessment process, and examines the literature on this topic to propose a list of eight potential protective domains for sexual offending. The inclusion of notions of desistance and strengths may provide additional guidance to the assessment and treatment of those who sexually offend. Further research investigations are recommended to consolidate the preliminary conclusions from this study regarding the nature and influence of protective factors in enabling individuals to desist from further offending.
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of Research and
Sexual Abuse: A Journal
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1079063214547582
published online 20 August 2014Sex Abuse
Michiel de Vries Robbé, Ruth E. Mann, Shadd Maruna and David Thornton
An Exploration of Protective Factors Supporting Desistance From Sexual
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Sexual Abuse: A Journal of
Research and Treatment
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DOI: 10.1177/1079063214547582
An Exploration of Protective
Factors Supporting
Desistance From Sexual
Michiel de Vries Robbé1, Ruth E. Mann2, Shadd Maruna3
and David Thornton4
This article considers factors that support or assist desistance from sexual offending
in those who have previously offended. Current risk assessment tools for sexual
offending focus almost exclusively on assessing factors that raise the risk for offending.
The aim of this study was to review the available literature on protective factors
supporting desistance from sexual offending. This article discusses the potential value
of incorporating protective factors into the assessment process, and examines the
literature on this topic to propose a list of eight potential protective domains for
sexual offending. The inclusion of notions of desistance and strengths may provide
additional guidance to the assessment and treatment of those who sexually offend.
Further research investigations are recommended to consolidate the preliminary
conclusions from this study regarding the nature and influence of protective factors
in enabling individuals to desist from further offending.
risk assessment, sexual offender, recidivism, desistance, protective factors
1Van der Hoeven Kliniek, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2National Offender Management Service, London, UK
3Rutgers University, Newark, USA
4Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, Mauston, WI, USA
Corresponding Author:
Michiel de Vries Robbé, Department of Research, Van der Hoeven Kliniek, P.O. Box 174, 3500 AD
Utrecht, The Netherlands.
547582SAXXXX10.1177/1079063214547582Sexual Abuse
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2 Sexual Abuse
Modern-day risk assessment schemes tend to predict recidivism better than chance,
but there is room for improvement. The major “third generation” assessment frame-
works for assessing convicted sexual offenders focus almost exclusively on factors
that raise risk for recidivism, for example, the STABLE-2007 (Fernandez, Harris,
Hanson, & Sparks, 2012), the Structure Risk Assessment (Thornton, 2002), the
Violence Risk Scale–Sexual Offender version (VRS:SO; Wong, Olver, Nicholaichuk,
& Gordon, 2003), the Sexual Violence Risk–20 (SVR-20; Boer, Hart, Kropp, &
Webster, 1997), and the Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol (RSVP; Hart et al., 2003).
Consequently, Maruna and LeBel (2003) described the assessment of risks and needs
as “deficit focused” and urged those in the criminal justice field to consider balancing
such measurement with an assessment of individual strengths.
There are three reasons in particular why it may be important to consider strengths
as well as risks in the assessment process. First, to do so could improve the predictive
validity of our risk assessment tools. For instance, the combined use of risk factors and
protective factors has demonstrated incremental predictive validity over assessments
with risk factors alone. A study on a combined violent and sexual offender sample that
had been discharged from inpatient forensic psychiatric treatment, showed a signifi-
cant increase in predictive validity for violent recidivism after treatment when protec-
tive factors were added to the risk factors in the assessment (de Vries Robbé, de Vogel,
& Douglas, 2013). Second, a one-sided focus on risk can lead to over-prediction of
violence risk, and poor risk management and treatment planning. Rogers (2000)
argued that risk-only evaluations are inherently inaccurate and implicitly biased, often
resulting in negative consequences to forensic populations. In particular, over-
prediction (i.e., too many false positives) can lead to pessimism among therapists and
unnecessarily long treatment or overly restrictive risk management, which are costly
for both society, in terms of financial burden, and for the individual in terms of limited
liberties (Miller, 2006). Third, deficit-focused assessments can be stigmatizing for
criminal justice clients. In particular, research by Attrill and Liell (2007) among pris-
oners and ex-prisoners emphasized the feelings of unfairness of the assessors’ focus on
risk to the exclusion of any recognition for positive accomplishments. For example,
one prisoner in their study reported his view that, “From my experience risk assess-
ment isn’t fair as it’s just pure negatives that people look at, not positives.” Such testi-
mony raises the possibility that the emphasis on risks found in most current assessment
processes will have a negative impact on the relationship between the assessor and the
assessee, and consequently perhaps on the rehabilitation process itself.
These risky aspects of risk assessment may be offset by paying more than lip ser-
vice to the concept of protective factors in assessment work. By this term, we mean
factors that enable or assist desistance from (sexual) offending among those that have
already offended. In the criminology field, some work has focused on the assessment
of protective factors (e.g., Herrenkohl et al., 2003) or individual strengths as a way of
complementing the deficit-driven focus on risks and needs (e.g., Maruna & LeBel,
2003). Others have sought to subtly shift the focus away from assessing predictors of
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Vries Robbé et al. 3
recidivism to those factors associated with successful desistance from crime (e.g.,
Farrall, 2004; McNeill, 2006; Robinson & Shapland, 2008).
Before protective factors can be fully incorporated into sexual offending assess-
ment frameworks, however, we need to (a) identify potential protective factors from
exploratory research and the theoretical literature, (b) build theoretical models to
explain how the identified protective factors reduce risk, (c) articulate and systemati-
cally collect data on these variables and examine their relationship with recidivism,
and (d) build and validate tools for the assessment of protective factors for sexual
violence. The present article seeks to complete the first of these steps, that is, examine
the existing literature to identify and propose potential protective factors for sexual
Conceptualizing Protective Factors
A starting point in seeking to define protective factors for sexual offending might be to
mirror accepted definitions of risk factors (e.g., Andrews & Bonta, 2006) by stating
that a protective factor is a feature of a person that lowers the risk of reoffending. In
addition to internal, psychological features, there is a question about whether or not
external, environmental, or circumstantial features of an individual’s life situation
could also be considered to be protective factors. Certainly, criminological research
into desistance indicates that an ex-offender’s social situation is an important factor
associated with desistance. In fact, some desistance researchers would argue that
external factors are more important than internal ones (for a discussion, see LeBel,
Burnett, Maruna, & Bushway, 2008). This is in line with results from a protective fac-
tors study by Ullrich and Coid (2011) in a sample of violent and sexual offenders,
which found that protection was primarily related to social network factors. In the case
of sexual offending in particular, restrictive external circumstances are frequently
imposed on the individual against his preference, such as incarceration, residency
restrictions, social isolation, and restricted employment opportunities. If these external
circumstances are guided by empirical evidence, they can be an important part of risk
management processes to create more protective environments. Therefore, we believe
that the definition of a protective factor should encompass social, interpersonal, and
environmental factors as well as psychological and behavioral features.
In pursuit of an approach to risk reduction based on building protective resources,
we could profitably further differentiate between static/unchangeable protective fac-
tors (e.g., secure attachment in childhood) and those that are behavioral or otherwise
potentially changeable. In line with a recent theory of risk factors (Mann, Hanson, &
Thornton, 2010), we also suggest that it is helpful to distinguish between the protec-
tive factor as an underlying propensity (psychological or personality characteristic)
and observable manifestations of that propensity. For example, holding down a job
may be a manifestation of several underlying propensities (e.g., work ethic, plus self-
discipline, plus ability to manage social relationships), which together enable stable
employment, along with external factors (e.g., economy, employment discrimination).
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4 Sexual Abuse
In another example, the underlying propensities of good social skills may be manifest
in generally well-functioning intimate relationships.
Some researchers (e.g., Farrington, 2003) have divided the factors associated with
positive desistance outcomes into two categories depending on whether the positive
factor has a direct influence on desistance irrespective of risk level (termed promotive
factor) or whether the positive factor moderates the impact of risk factors (i.e., has
greater risk-reducing effects for those people deemed to be at high-risk of offending
than for those deemed to be low-risk—the more precise use of the term protective fac-
tor or resilience). Ullrich and Coid (2011) did not find indications that protective fac-
tors have different effects at different levels of risk, whereas Lodewijks, de Ruiter, and
Doreleijers (2010) found proof for a buffering or mitigating effect of protective factors
on risk factors in adolescent samples. As we are equally concerned with both types of
positive factors, and as the sexual offending protective factor literature is still in its
infancy, these distinctions are probably too fine for the current state of knowledge, and
so we use the term protective factors here as a general term to refer to both types.
To develop the definition further, we propose that protective factors must exist as
definable propensities or manifestations thereof in their own right, rather than being no
more than the absence of a risk factor. Accordingly, it should be possible to define
individual protective factors without the use of negatives. To illustrate, “capacity for
intimacy” would meet this condition, but “lack of hostility” would not. Put another
way, some protective factors are likely to be the opposite of risk factors, a proposal
that we explore in more detail below, but in this argument we draw a clear distinction
between the opposite of a risk factor and the absence of a risk factor.
In addition, protective factors and risk factors can conceivably co-occur in the same
domain. That is, even protective factors that are the opposite, or “healthy pole,” of risk
factors are not necessarily mutually exclusive entities from the risk factor. An example
in which protective and risk factors can co-occur is in the domain of social influences.
Negative social influences are generally considered a risk factor, at the same time posi-
tive social influences are considered a protective factor. However, it is quite possible
for individuals to have both negative and positive social influences in their lives, that
is, for strengths and risk factors to co-exist even though they seem like opposites. For
example, a person could both belong to a drug-using social group and, separately,
attend university classes with students learning engineering. A single measure of social
influences “positive or negative?” would not capture this common complexity. A risk
assessment tool that poses strengths as the opposites of vulnerabilities, yet measures
both ends of risk domains simultaneously is the Short-Term Assessment of Risk and
Treatability (START; Webster, Martin, Brink, Nicholls, & Middleton, 2004). However,
despite good results for predicting non-violence with the strengths scale, no incremen-
tal predictive validity over vulnerabilities has yet been reported (e.g., Braithwaite,
Charette, Crocker, & Reyes, 2010; Chu, Thomas, Ogloff, & Daffern, 2011; Viljoen,
Nicholls, Greaves, de Ruiter, & Brink, 2011). Another risk assessment tool that incor-
porates protective strengths in addition to risk factors is the Inventory of Offender Risk,
Needs, and Strengths (IORNS; Miller, 2006), which is a self-report measure to deter-
mine risks, needs, and protective factors for all types of offenders. In a sample of
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American pre-release prisoners, the IORNS subscales Protective Strength Index and
the Personal Resources Scale were able to differentiate between successful and unsuc-
cessful reintegration (Miller, 2006). As far as we know, to date, no sexual offender
predictive validity studies have been carried out with either of these tools.
Recently, two promising SVR assessment tools have been developed that include
protective factors for juvenile sexual offending. Print and colleagues (2009) developed
a tool designed to guide the assessment of young people (aged 12-18) who are known
to have sexually abused others: the AIM-2 (Print et al., 2009). The tool includes 24
protective factors (termed strengths or resiliencies) as well as 51 risk factors, grouped
into four domains: developmental issues, family issues, current environment, and
offence-specific issues. An initial validation study suggested that a high score on the
strengths scale acted as a protective factor even for juvenile sexual offenders with a
high score on the concerns scale (Griffin, Beech, Print, Bradshaw, & Quayle, 2008).
Intending to contribute to a more comprehensive assessment for adolescent sexual
recidivism, Worling (2013) developed a new tool specifically to assess protective fac-
tors for juvenile sexual offending: Desistence for Adolescents Who Sexually Harm
(DASH-13). The tool consists of a checklist of 13 factors: 7 related specifically to
future sexual health and 6 concerning more general, pro-social functioning.
Investigation of the psychometric properties of the tool is currently in process.
Finally, protective factors can be the result of social development factors (families,
peers, communities) as well as from biological and psychological maturation. As with
risk factors (see Ward & Beech, 2006), there may well be neural mechanisms associ-
ated with protective factors, possibly originating from pre-natal or peri-natal condi-
tions or early childhood experiences. Such mechanisms need to be uncovered and
understood, to assist treatment providers’ efforts to strengthen an individual’s protec-
tive factors, or provide him or her with prosthetics to compensate for under-developed
or “missing” protective factors. Although the medical analogy is far from ideal, we use
the term prosthetics here to refer to “artificial” (or coached) protective factors that
effectively compensate for the absence of “organically” occurring protective factors.
Examples would be structured problem-solving skills or learned ways of expressing
feelings assertively. Psychiatric medications (e.g., selective serotonine reuptake inhib-
itors (SSRIs) or anti-libidinal medications) could be considered to be prosthetic pro-
tective factors if they have the effect of reducing the intensity of sexual drive or
enhancing sexual self-control.
Identifying Protective Factors for Sexual Offending
Mirroring the accepted definition of a risk factor for sexual offending, a protective
factor should be empirically related to desistance from sexual offending. A stringent
standard, equivalent to the standard set for a risk factor (see Mann et al., 2010), would
require at least three separate studies, when meta-analytically integrated, to demon-
strate that the presence of the protective factor was associated with lower reconviction
rates. However, as the literature into protective factors for sexual offending is in its
infancy with few empirical studies yet reported, there is a minimal evidence base to
consider (see also Laws & Ward, 2011).
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6 Sexual Abuse
Moreover, there may be additional ways of identifying protective factors besides
reconviction studies. After all, desistance research starts from a different point than
treatment research by putting the individual (not the program) at the center of the
change process. Rather than asking “what works” and comparing the reconviction
rates of treatment and control groups, desistance studies ask how change works and
seek to identify those factors that support the individual in his or her efforts to main-
tain desistance (for reviews, see Farrall & Calverley, 2005; Laub & Sampson, 2001).
Therefore, in this article, we also draw on qualitative and quantitative desistance stud-
ies to identify potential protective factors in sexual offending. The hope is that future
evaluation research might empirically test the protective factors proposed in this arti-
cle and complement the understanding of desistance from sexual offending. In addi-
tion, it would be valuable if sexual offending research were to differentiate between
protective factors associated with desistance from general or violent offending and
protective factors associated specifically with desistance from sexual offending, as
these may not necessarily be the same factors.
We will consider a variety of sources of ideas about what psychological propensi-
ties or sociological circumstances might aid desistance from sexual offending. Our
exploration of potential protective factors concentrates on three areas: (a) the sex
offending risk factor literature, to consider when the opposing/healthy end of a risk
domain could be considered protective; (b) the desistance literature in criminology
specifically on sexual violence; and (c) the content of an existing measure of protec-
tive factors intended to be applicable for violent as well as sexual offending assess-
ment. The aim is to integrate the findings from these diverse sources to create a list of
potential protective factors for sexual offending.
Protective Factors as the Opposite of Risk Factors for Sexual Offending
As already discussed, it seems likely that often protective factors and risk factors
would be two sides of the same coin. That is, the unhealthy pole of a continuum repre-
sents a risk factor (e.g., offence-supportive beliefs), whereas the healthy pole repre-
sents a protective factor (e.g., in this example, beliefs supportive of respectful and
age-appropriate sexual relationships). As proposed earlier, protective factors must
exist as definable propensities rather than being no more than the absence of a risk
factor. However, in some cases, risk factors are actually formulated as the absence of
a healthy propensity or skill (e.g., “poor problem-solving skills”), so the presence of
the healthy propensity (in this example, “good problem-solving skills”) could be con-
sidered a protective factor.
Table 1 shows the risk factors for sexual offending that have the strongest empirical
support (see Mann et al., 2010, for an account of the evidence base for these factors).
For each of these factors, a description is given of the suggested corresponding positive
pole, that is, the healthy propensities of these risk factors (see Table 1). The healthy
poles of the 14 factors identified as most valid for sexual offending are proposed to be
Moderate intensity sexual drive, Sexual preference for consenting adults, Attitudes sup-
portive of respectful and age-appropriate sexual relationships, Preference for
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Table 1. Established and Promising Risk Factors for Sexual Offending and Their
Corresponding Healthy Poles.
Risk factor Corresponding healthy pole
Moderate intensity sexual drive
A preference for having sex with someone you are emotionally attached to and
who is attached to you. Romantic or emotionally intimate connection is seen
as being as desirable as sexual gratification.
Deviant sexual
Sexual preference for consenting adults
A preference for sex with consenting sexual partners of adult age. Desire for
potentially reciprocal sexual activities in which the adult partner is more likely
than not to also be interested in the activity.
Attitudes supportive of respectful and age-appropriate sexual relationships
Weighs the rights of others equally with own wants and desires. Recognizes the
right to refuse sexual activity and opposes sexual abuse. Recognizes the nature
of childhood and the implications of emotional & physical immaturity for likely
harm that would be caused by early sexual activity.
congruence with
Preference for emotional intimacy with adults
Recognizes the nature of childhood developmental stages and the more limited
capacity of children in relation to adult-oriented constructs such as reciprocal
emotional intimacy.
Lack of
with adults
Capacity for lasting emotionally intimate relationships with adults
Has one or more emotional confidantes; has lasting intimate relationships
including sexual relationships; can maintain a stable relationship for longer
period of time; relationships are characterized by mutual disclosure of
vulnerability and acceptance of each other’s faults. Sustained emotionally
intimate marital type relationships; emotionally intimate friendships;
cooperative and discriminating approach to casual social/work contacts.
(poor self-
impulsive and
reckless, unstable
work patterns)
Able to set and achieve medium and long-term goals through effortful goal-
directed actions. Considers consequences before taking decisions, and weighs
consequences to others at least as highly as consequences to self. Values pro-
social solutions and seeks to achieve peaceful resolutions of difference rather
than aggressive resolutions. Regulating immediate impulses, stress reactions,
and general lifestyle.
Poor cognitive
problem solving
Effective problem-solving skills
Able to articulate different solutions to a problem, including pro-social solutions,
and choose between solutions by considering the consequences, to self and
others, of each option. Weights long-term gain over short-term gain.
Resistance to rules
and supervision
Acceptance of rules and supervision
Capacity to connect with people in authority. Meaningful relationships with
supervising or treating professionals. Able to accept rules and regulations and
keep to agreements with treatment staff, employers, probation officers and
other professionals. Manages to obey imposed legal conditions.
Grievance/hostility Trustful and forgiving orientation
An orientation to others that is typically trustful and peaceful, seeing the others’
point of view/perspective, preferring peaceful solutions to interpersonal
conflict and generally able to offer forgiveness after being wronged.
Negative social
Law-abiding social network
Social network primarily or entirely composed of stable, law-abiding individuals
who promote pro-social activity and who offer support and strengthen self-
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8 Sexual Abuse
emotional intimacy with adults, Capacity for lasting emotionally intimate relationships
with adults, Self-control, Effective problem solving skills, Acceptance of rules and
supervision, Trustful and forgiving orientation, Law-abiding social network, Positive
attitudes toward women, Honest and respectful attitudes, Care and concern for others,
and Functional coping. Given the strong empirical base for the risk poles of these sex-
ual offending factors, it is hypothesized that their healthy poles are equally strong
related to reductions in sexually violent recidivism.
Protective Factors in the Desistance Literature
“Desistance from crime” has become a dominant area of research activity within crim-
inology over the last 20 years (see Farrall & Calverley, 2005). The concept of desis-
tance relates to the process of abstaining from crime after repeated or habitual
engagement in criminal activities (Maruna, 2001). Desistance processes often involve
key turning points or disorienting life episodes (Laub & Sampson, 2001), but desis-
tance is not a single moment or event in a person’s life. Instead, desistance is widely
understood as a long-term maintenance process involving a slow recognition of the
need to change, motivational fluctuation, and possible false starts followed by lapses
or relapses. By changing the focus of inquiry from investigating why some ex-prison-
ers “fail” (or re-offend) and instead trying to understand how and why some individu-
als succeed or “go straight,” desistance research has opened up new understandings in
criminology with distinct implications for assessment and treatment practice.
General desistance factors. The factors identified by the criminological literature for
desistance from general criminal offending may also be relevant to sexual offending
(Laws & Ward, 2011). For example, aging, stable employment, marriage, sobriety,
lack of stress, and good mental health have all been found to have a protective effect
Risk factor Corresponding healthy pole
Hostility toward
Positive attitudes toward women
Generally pro-social, trusting and respectful attitudes toward women. Views
women as equal to men. Believes women have good intentions.
Machiavellianism Honest and respectful attitudes
Views others as equal. Recognizes others’ abilities and strengths. Values honesty
and does not take advantage of others.
Lack of concern
for others/
Care and concern for others
Shows interest in others. Cares about other people’s feelings and well-being.
Attempts to help others when in need. Does not act on own needs before
considering those of others.
Functional coping
Dealing with negative emotions (like anger, anxiety, or rejection) through
appropriate, socially acceptable strategies. Managing stress in a calm, non-
sexual, and effective manner.
Table 1. (continued)
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Vries Robbé et al. 9
on criminal behavior (Laub & Sampson, 2001). Moreover, research with ex-prisoners
suggests that long-term, persistent offenders tend to lack a sense of hope or feelings of
agency (Maruna, 2001; Zamble & Quinsey, 1997). However, reformed ex-prisoners
are characterized by hope and optimism: They seem to maintain an overly optimistic
sense of control over their future and strong internal beliefs about their own self-worth
and personal destinies (Burnett & Maruna, 2006; LeBel et al., 2008; Maruna, 2001).
Desisters also seem to embrace change-enhancing cognitive patterns: consistent pat-
terns of cognition that encompass the ability to evaluate one’s behavior and learn from
one’s mistakes (Maruna, 2001). Arguably, one potential indicator of this willingness to
change is the individual’s persistence with a course of intervention to change risk-
relevant behavior. In addition, desisters seem to possess a sense of achievement and
accomplishment (see Maruna & LeBel, 2003). Making meaningful contributions to
one’s community or family can lead to grounded increments in self-esteem, feelings of
meaningful purposiveness, and a cognitive restructuring toward responsibility for
young people in trouble with the law (Toch, 2000). Such successful achievements can
predict successful desistance (LeBel et al., 2008) or abstinence from crime (Uggen &
Janikula, 1999). Last, the desistance literature has established the importance of mov-
ing away from groups of delinquent peers (Warr, 1998) and establishing meaningful
intimate relationships (Laub & Sampson, 2001). The latter also being the opposite
pole of “lack of emotional intimacy with others,” which is a strongly evidenced risk
factor for sexual offending (Mann et al., 2010).
Sex offending desistance factors. To date studies of desistance from sexual crimes are
few (see Laws & Ward, 2011). Farmer, Beech, and Ward (2012) studied the self-narra-
tives of individuals convicted of child molestation who had apparently desisted from
offending, comparing them with individuals who were thought to be still actively
seeking opportunities to offend. Several factors differentiated the desistance group
from the active group. The desisters appeared to have an enhanced sense of personal
agency, had a stronger internal locus of control, were consistently more able to find
positive outcomes from negative events, identified treatment as having provided them
with a turning point, and, most strikingly, seemed to have found a place within a social
group or network. They described belonging to three particular types of social groups
or communities: family, friends, and church. In contrast, the “active” or at-risk group
all described themselves as socially alienated or isolated from others (Farmer et al.,
Measure of Protective Factors
In this section, we review a structured assessment tool developed specifically for the
assessment of protective factors for adult violent as well as sexual offending: the
Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for violence risk (SAPROF; de Vogel, de
Ruiter, Bouman, & de Vries Robbé, 2009, 2012). The SAPROF was designed to assess
general protective factors for recidivism in adults convicted of any violent crime
(including sexual). The tool aims to form a positive supplement to risk focused
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10 Sexual Abuse
structured professional judgment (SPJ) tools like the Historical Clinical Risk
Management-20 (HCR-20 Version 2; Webster, Douglas, Eaves, & Hart, 1997), its revi-
sion the HCR-20 Version 3 (HCR-20V3; Douglas, Hart, Webster, & Belfrage, 2013), or
related SPJ risk tools. However, it can also be used in addition to actuarial risk tools
such as the STABLE-2007. The SAPROF contains 17 protective factors, which are
mostly dynamic in nature and divided into three scales: internal factors, motivational
factors, and external factors (similarly to psychological, behavioral, and environmen-
tal features). Each factor is provided with a rationale describing its empirical back-
ground, which largely relies on general violent crime research and to a lesser extent
incorporates research on sexual offending. After completing the scale, the assessor has
the option to mark factors as critical for the overall protection or for treatment plan-
ning (“keys” and “goals”) and makes a “final protection judgment.” The results from
the assessment are intended to be integrated with results from a risk tool to come to an
overall final judgment on the level of risk, which incorporates both the present risk—
and protective factors.
Previous results with forensic psychiatric patients convicted of violent offending
showed good predictive validities for the SAPROF for violent incidents toward others
and self-harm during treatment (Abidin et al., 2013) as well as for violent recidivism
after discharge from treatment (de Vries Robbé, de Vogel, & de Spa, 2011). Moreover,
incremental predictive value of assessing the SAPROF protective factors in addition
to the HCR-20 risk factors was demonstrated (de Vries Robbé et al., 2013). The first
empirical SAPROF study that concentrated solely on patients convicted of sexual
offending was recently carried out (de Vries Robbé, de Vogel, Koster, & Bogaerts,
2014). In this study, the predictive validity of the protective factors in the SAPROF for
non-recidivism among 83 discharged treated sexual offenders was analyzed. The total
score of the 17 protective factors was significantly predictive of no new convictions
for any (including sexual) violence for short-term as well as long-term (15-year) fol-
low-up as was the final protection judgment. When only sexually violent recidivism
was used as outcome measure, the SAPROF total score was also a significant predictor
at different follow-up times. The protective factors remained significantly predictive
of general violent re-offending and sexually violent re-offending when controlling for
ratings on the HCR-20 and SVR-20 risk factors. Prospective clinical studies into the
predictive validity of the protective factors in the SAPROF for no violent incidents
toward others during treatment of forensic psychiatric patients (follow-up 12 months)
also showed good results for those patients convicted of sexual offending (de Vries
Robbé, de Vogel, Wever, Douglas, & Nijman, 2014). Although these results are prom-
ising, the research samples are still small and replication of these findings is essential.
Additional studies into the predictive validity of the SAPROF for different categories
of sexual crime types will also need to be conducted in the near future.
Proposed Protective Factors for Sexual Offending
We propose that the various literatures discussed in the preceding review can be sum-
marized into eight “protective domains” that could be hypothesized to assist desistance
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Vries Robbé et al. 11
from sexual offending. Table 2 provides an overview of the protective factors derived
from the preceding review and their relationship to the proposed protective domains.
The factors are categorized by source: (a) the healthy poles of SVR domains, (b) desis-
tance factors for sexual offending, and (c) protective factors from the general risk
assessment tool for violent and sexual offending (general protective factors).
Healthy Sexual Interests
This domain refers to a propensity to prefer sexual relationships with consenting adults
co-existing with a moderate intensity sexual drive. Individuals with protective factors
in this domain are likely to show a balance between a desire for sexual fulfillment and
a desire for other types of fulfillment. They will have adequate sexual knowledge and
beliefs that support age-appropriate and consenting relationships. This domain is con-
strued as the healthy poles of two, well-established sexual offending risk factors:
Sexual preference for consenting adults and Moderate intensity sexual drive. Additional
evidence for healthy sexual interests may be found in the presence of Attitudes sup-
portive of respectful and age-appropriate sexual relationships (the healthy pole of the
risk factor Offence-supportive attitudes). The protective factor Medication could have
a protective effect on sexual drive.
Capacity for Emotional Intimacy
This domain refers to a propensity to form and maintain emotionally close and satisfy-
ing relationships with other adults. Individuals with protective factors in this domain
will most likely have a Trustful and forgiving orientation to others (healthy pole for
the risk factor Grievance/hostile attitude to others), a Preference for emotional inti-
macy with adults rather than children (healthy pole for the risk factor Emotional con-
gruence with children), and the ability to communicate effectively. The most obvious
manifestation of this propensity is that the individual has, or has had, long-lasting and
emotionally stable intimate relationships with adult partners (e.g., the risk factor
healthy pole Capacity for lasting emotionally intimate relationships with adults). The
healthy poles Positive attitudes toward women, Honest and respectful attitudes, and
Care and concern for others all reflect underlying personality traits which enhance
capacity for emotional intimacy. This domain is also reflected in different general
protective factors: Intimate relationship, Secure attachment in childhood, and
Constructive Social and Professional Support Network
This protective domain refers to the capability of forming constructive relationships
with other adults, both socially and with persons in professional support and authority
roles. Individuals with protective factors in this domain will have a law-abiding social
network. This is represented in the sexual offending desistance factor Place within a
social group or network and in the risk factor healthy pole Law-abiding social network.
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12 Sexual Abuse
Table 2. Proposed Protective Domains and Evidence.
Proposed protective
domains Healthy poles of risk factors Desistance factors
General protective
1. Healthy sexual
Moderate intensity sexual
Sexual preference for
consenting adults
Attitudes supportive of
respectful and age-
appropriate sexual
2. Capacity for
emotional intimacy
Preference for emotional
intimacy with adults
Capacity for lasting
emotionally intimate
relationships with adults
Secure attachment in
Trustful and forgiving
Intimate relationship
Positive attitudes toward
Honest and respectful
Care and concern for others
3. Constructive social
and professional
support network
Acceptance of rules and
Treatment as turning
Motivation for
Law-abiding social network Place within a social
group or network
Attitudes toward
Honest and respectful
Professional care
Empathy Living circumstances
4. Goal-directed
Self-control Enhanced sense of
personal agency
Stronger internal locus
of control
Financial management
Life goals
5. Good problem
Effective problem-solving
Functional coping Coping
6. Engaged in
or constructive
leisure activities
Place within a social
group or network
Leisure activities
7. Sobriety Self-control Self-control
Professional care
External control
8. Hopeful, optimistic
and motivated
attitude to
Find positive outcomes
from negative events
Motivation for
Treatment as turning
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Vries Robbé et al. 13
Additional support is provided by the general protective factor Network. Individuals
with protective factors in this domain may also have meaningful relationships with
professionals, reflected by sexual offending desistance factor Treatment as turning
point and demonstrated in general protective factors Motivation for treatment,
Professional care, and Living circumstances. Furthermore, they may have a positive
attitude to authority, risk factor healthy pole Acceptance of rules and supervision and
general protective factor Attitudes toward authority. The risk factors healthy poles
Honest and respectful attitudes and Care and concern for others provide underlying
traits which facilitate the development of a constructive social and professional sup-
port network.
Goal-Directed Living
This protective domain refers to the capacity to set goals and direct daily activities so
that progress can be made toward those goals (general protective factor Life goals).
Individuals with protective factors in this domain will show effortful, positive, goal-
directed behaviors (the risk factor healthy pole Self-control), will have Enhanced
sense of personal agency and Stronger internal locus of control (both desistance fac-
tors), and will show good self-discipline (reflected in general protective factors Self-
control and Financial management).
Good Problem Solving
This protective domain refers to the capacity to manage life’s daily problems without
becoming overwhelmed or resorting to anti-social or avoidance techniques to regain
control. Such a propensity is reflected by the risk factor healthy poles Functional cop-
ing and Effective problem-solving skills and general protective factor Coping.
Protective factor Intelligence may reflect underlying abilities for good problem
Engaged in Employment or Constructive Leisure Activities
This protective domain refers to the propensity to live a life that involves constructive
and rewarding activity and ideally also a sense of intrinsic satisfaction and accom-
plishment. Employment is the most obvious protective factor, reflected by general
protective factor Work. Equal results could be obtained from engaging in personally
meaningful leisure or social activities such as sports, social hobbies, or caring for oth-
ers (reflected in general protective factor Leisure activities and sexual offending desis-
tance factor Place within a social group or network).
This protective domain refers to the abstention from drug or alcohol misuse. It is an
established protective factor in the literature with Self-control as a risk factor healthy
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14 Sexual Abuse
pole (and general protective factor), indicating the likelihood of sobriety intentions to
succeed. External motivation through general protective factors Professional care and
External control may provide assistance with sobriety.
Hopeful, Optimistic and Motivated Attitude to Desistance
This protective domain refers to optimistic change-enhancing cognitive patterns.
Individuals with protective factors in this domain are likely to Find positive outcomes
from negative events and see Treatment as a turning point (both sexual offending
desistance factors). As a result they are often motivated to work with treatment provid-
ers or other helping agencies (reflected in general protective factors Motivation for
treatment and Medication).
In summary, eight protective domains are proposed based on being healthy poles of
well-established sexual offending risk domains or being desistance factors for sexual
offending. Additional support for the proposed domains is found in general protective
factors from the SAPROF, which preliminarily proved predictive of sexual and violent
re-offending by sexual offenders. We propose that each domain represents an underlying
propensity, which may be pre-existing, may have developed as the individual reflects on
his life and the consequences of his offending, or may have developed as a prosthetic
through a rehabilitative intervention. The presence of each propensity may be observed
in a range of possible behavioral indicators, or manifestations of the propensity.
The biggest limitation of this exploration study of protective factors for future offend-
ing for those who have sexually offended in the past is that very few studies on this
topic are available. For the general protective factors assessment tool discussed few
studies have been found on sexual offender samples. Similarly, only one specific
empirical desistance study was found for sexual offending. The results from these
studies need to be replicated in other sexual offender samples to be able to generalize
the findings. Given the limited resources, the current study design aimed to include
direct as well as indirect evidence for the proposed domains. Nevertheless, the domains
are not supported by a large body of empirical evidence and should be viewed as a
preliminary proposal. This article presents a first step toward more in-depth studies
into protective factors for sexual offending and their potential value for risk assess-
ment and treatment of sexually violent offenders. Hopefully, this will spark enthusi-
asm among researchers and clinicians to incorporate protective factors in their studies
of sexual offending, which will result in a broader evidence base for more comprehen-
sive sexual offender assessment.
Conclusion and Implications for Research
De Ruiter and Nicholls (2011) describe the study of protective factors as a new frontier
in forensic mental health which needs to be explored to increase our knowledge on
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Vries Robbé et al. 15
what works in risk prevention. We know very little about what those who have offended
sexually value, what makes them happy, and what skills and strengths are related to
their desistance from offending. The desistance literature is very sparse in relation to
sexual offending. We therefore urgently need desistance studies that focus on sexual
offending. We also need to further investigate whether and to what extent assessments
of protective factors increase the accuracy of SVR assessment. We may need to create
additional structured schemes for identifying protective factors specifically for sexual
reoffending, and use these routinely, so that we can collect and compare data from
samples of individuals convicted of different types of sexual crimes and relate these to
risk focused tools, treatment efforts, and recidivism outcome.
The above described domain of Healthy sexual interests is the only proposed pro-
tective domain which is identified as exclusively relevant for sexual offending. It
would be valuable to develop tools for adult sexual offenders that specifically assess
protective factors in this domain, in a similar fashion as has been done for juvenile
offenders in the DASH-13 (Worling, 2013). The other seven domains can be consid-
ered general protective domains and are represented in many of the factors in the
SAPROF, which is not surprising given that this tool provided input for the domains.
These factors can primarily be described as “dynamic improving,” meaning that
potentially they could change for the better, serve as positive goals for treatment efforts
and be used for evaluating treatment progress. Large-scale prospective follow-up
research is needed to be able to validate their assumed potential for desistance from
sexual offending.
In this article, we have argued for a greater focus on protective factors in assess-
ment, research and practice. In recent years, those who work in sexual offender treat-
ment have shown an extensive interest in the Good Lives Model of offender
rehabilitation (Ward & Gannon, 2006). As a strengths-based approach to understand-
ing and treating sexual offending this has played an important role in enabling treat-
ment practice to move away from the more confrontational approaches that were
typical in the 1980s. However, the field of sexual offending risk assessment still uses
a predominantly deficit-focused approach. It takes some years to collect and analyze
the data necessary to validate new risk prediction and prevention items or scales. We
therefore believe that it is necessary for those engaged in sexual offender assessment
to incorporate the notion of protective factors into their research and practice as a mat-
ter of urgency. A sea change in our approach to risk assessment could yield multiple
benefits, both to treatment clients and to society.
Authors’ Note
Michiel de Vries Robbé is co-author of one of the tools described in the manuscript (SAPROF).
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
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16 Sexual Abuse
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.
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... While there is some debate in the literature as to how to define and conceptualize protective factors (e.g., Cording & Beggs Christofferson, 2017), there is growing clinical interest in assessing for strengths that provide a protective buffer against the effects of risk factors and therefore reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Some of the potential benefits of protective factors that have been identified include shifting away from a deficit focus, improving the accuracy of assessments, and increasing the clinical rapport between clients and their assessors (Cording & Beggs Christofferson, 2017;de Vries Robbé, Mann, Maruna, & Thornton, 2015). However, these ideas remain largely untested as, unlike risk factors, there has been limited empirical research on protective factors in general, but especially in regards to sexual offending and adult populations. ...
... Other examples of protective factors in lifespan research on high-risk delinquent boys were identified by Laub and Sampson (2009), including a stable marital relationship, military service, and stable employment. A notable contribution to our understanding of protective factors of sexual offending was offered byde Vries Robbé, Mann, et al. (2015). The authors reviewed the available theory and empirical evidence and developed a list of eight plausible protective domains for sexual offending: (a) healthy sexual interests; (b) capacity for emotional intimacy; (c) constructive social and professional support network; (d) goal-directed living; (e) good problem solving; (f) engaged in employment or constructive leisure activities; (g) sobriety; and (f) hopeful, optimistic and motivated attitude to desistance (i.e., not offending). ...
... Given the lack of empirical research and systematic reviews regarding protective factors for sexual offending, we conducted a broader search of the literature for these factors. We chose to focus on literature that has appeared since de Vries Robbé, Mann, et al. (2015) review of the literature regarding protective factors for sexual offending. ...
... A recent systematic review suggested that older sex offenders have lower rates of sexual recidivism than young offenders, who have a major risk of reoffending [16]. In particular, the risk of recidivism seems to be related to social factors and the quality of relationships [17]. According to Ozkan et al. [18], sex offense recidivism is best predicted by two or more prior sex offense convictions. ...
... The purpose is made difficult by two mechanisms: (1) social, cultural, and institutional disinvestment; (2) the offenders' difficulty in being responsible for their conduct. These issues often lead to the instrumentalization of treatment and involve a decrease in both the social and individual confidence in the possibility of reducing relapse in these individuals [17]. ...
Full-text available
Objective: The research aims to investigate family communication regarding sexuality and the possible link between insecure attachment, violence in relationships, and the tendency toward sexual sensation-seeking in a sample of Italian sexual offenders. Design and method: We evaluated 29 male sexual offenders in two correctional facilities of Southern Lazio (Italy) (mean age = 40.76; SD = 11.16). The participants completed general questions about their family and sexual education and fulfilled the following questionnaires: Compulsive Sexual Behavior Inventory (CSBI), Sexual Sensation-seeking Scale (SSSS), and the High-Risk Situation Checklist, adapted in Italian, as well as the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ), validated in Italian. Results: Most of the participants had never talked about sex within their family and perceived a severe or abusive education during childhood. In addition, positive correlations emerged between SSSS and the two scales of the CSBI, as well as between insecure attachment style, CSBI, and sexual sensation-seeking. The participants also reported some critical issues regarding the personal perception of high-risk situations linked to sexual relapse. Conclusions: The data suggest factors to investigate, such as family education and relationships and the personal perception of sexual recidivism. The results might be effective in treatment and prevention programs among sex offenders.
... The ERICSO's inclusion of dynamic risk and protective factors are proposed to inform treatment to support desistance from sexual reoffending consistent with recent research (Fortune and Ward, 2017;Nee and Vernham, 2017;Vries Robb e et al., 2015). Vries Robb e et al. (2015) identified key risk factors for sexual offending and suggested corresponding healthy (protective) domains. ...
Purpose There are limited risk assessment tools validated for use with the internet child abuse material (I/CAM) offender cohort. Developed through a multi-stage process, the purpose of this paper is to present the “Estimated Risk for Internet Child Sexual Offending” (ERICSO), a new tool for I/CAM offender assessment, including demographic, collection, nature of engagement and social domains, plus a structured professional judgement section. Validation studies remain ongoing. Design/methodology/approach This paper presents a case series analysis of six Australian men, including two Aboriginal men, convicted of I/CAM offences to pilot proposed ERICSO domains and commence validation against the short self-esteem scale, University of California Los Angles loneliness scale, internet sex screening test and the sexual violence risk-20 V2. Findings Participants of all ages generally reported histories of mental health diagnosis and/or treatment and substance abuse. Two participants reported prior sexual offending, one for I/CAM offences. Participants expressed sexual preferences for female child victims and were convicted of possessing thousands of I/CAM files. Two participants reported accessing I/CAM for over six and 10 years, respectively, before detection by law enforcement. Practical implications Preliminary implications indicate ERICSO higher scores are consistent with I/CAM offenders having more online sexual behaviour diversity and more areas of risk/treatment need. For example, participants with problematic self-esteem and loneliness in our data set have higher ERICSO scores. Social connectedness may be a relevant factor though definitive conclusions cannot be drawn from the small sample size. Originality/value The ERICSO presents novel assessment of factors in considering treatment targets in addressing both illegal I/CAM and problematic legal sexual behaviours.
... Protective factors could be defined as characteristics of a person, their environment, or the situation which enable or assist desistance from offending for those who have already offended or prevent the onset of offending among at-risk populations (De Vries Robbé, Mann et al., 2015). They can be found in the person's history but are often dynamic personal attributes, motivational factors or external environmental circumstances (Neves et al., 2019). ...
Protective factors are now commonly included in comprehensive risk assessment. This study concerns an initial validation of the new SAPROF-Extended Version (SAPROF-EV) pilot, containing modifications and additions to the original SAPROF. For 139 forensic psychiatric inpatients, assessment results with the SAPROF-EV pilot and HCR-20 V3 were compared with aggressive incidents. Results show good predictive validity for the SAPROF-EV pilot for all outcomes and incremental predictive validity for both the (modified) original SAPROF and the full SAPROF-EV pilot over the HCR-20 V3. For the outcome aggression toward others, the additional SAPROF-EV factors provide incremental predictive validity over the (modified) original SAPROF. In addition, the user feedback from clinicians highlights experienced additional value of the new factors for treatment guidance. Based on the findings from this study, the SAPROF-EV pilot will be adjusted further into an improved and enhanced version of the SAPROF.
... Successful community reintegration of military veterans with sexual offenses requires housing, treatment, and employment-all of which are important factors in reducing the risk for criminal recidivism (de Vries Robbé et al., 2015). Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Administration (VHA), military veterans have unique access to treatment and housing services. ...
Full-text available
Military veterans with sexual offenses committed after discharge are often eligible for Veterans Affairs (VA) services including health care. There are few, if any, studies of sexual recidivism among military veterans with sexual offense histories to guide clinical management. This study examined diagnostic and postrelease sexual and nonsexual recidivism among military sexual offenders released from California sexually violent predator (SVP) commitment. The sample consisted of 363 males; 131 were identified as military veterans and 232 as civilians. The rates of recidivism were assessed for two follow-up periods: a fixed 5-year and a total 21-year follow-up. Recidivism was operationalized as any new sexual, violent, or general criminal arrest or conviction occurring after discharge to the community in California. We found a low risk for sexual reoffense for both groups. Specific to veterans, the rates for sexual and nonsexual violent recidivism were under 7% for both follow-up periods. Diagnostically, veterans had a significantly higher rate of pedophilic disorder and lower rate of antisocial personality disorder than civilians; neither were predictive of sexual recidivism or any other recidivism. On average, veterans were 61 years old at discharge; and older age at discharge was associated with a significantly lower likelihood of recidivism of any type. A relatively high proportion of veterans had a history of childhood sexual abuse and head trauma. Trauma-informed care may be a particularly valuable treatment approach for veterans with sexual offenses. These data may aid the VA and other providers in forming evidence-based decisions regarding the management of veterans with sexual offenses. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
... Another avenue for future research would look at protective factors as well as risk factors. In particular, positive social support has been identified as a promising protective factor, where both offline and online influences could conceivably neutralize some of the effects of risk factors (de Vries Robbé et al., 2015). ...
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In this article, we describe a qualitative study in which we examined perceived effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on help-seeking individuals who access child sexual abuse material (CSAM, legally referred to as child pornography). The study recruited 18 participants who were part of the internet based Prevent It Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) clinical trial, which aims to reduce CSAM use and child exploitation, and were willing to answer questions during a semi-structured interview about the perceived impact of the pandemic restrictions on their lives, including their sexual thoughts and behaviors. Key themes that were identified from the participants’ answers included changes in day-to-day life, mental health, sexual thoughts, behaviors or urges, responses and coping strategies used to deal with sexual urges, changes on the forums, positive changes, and how they could best be assisted with coping in this situation. Our qualitative analysis also suggested that the pandemic affected urges to use CSAM, therefore potentially increasing the risk of online sexual offending. These results support that there is a need to investigate this potential negative side effect of quarantines or lockdowns before future pandemics.
This chapter argues for greater use of community hubs in the supervision of people convicted of sexual offences. The chapter begins with and overview of the current state of probation, contemporary issues in the supervision of people convicted of sexual offences and desistance from sexual offending. The chapter then looks at community hubs, a collaborative and multi-agency approach to probation, exploring their application and associated research. Following this, the chapter draws together community hubs and the experiences of people convicted of sexual offences. In highlighting the potential benefits of community hubs for this specific group, the chapter suggests that the hub approach is well positioned to bridge gaps in probation practice through creating more visible desistance pathways. This work strongly supports that when addressing gender-based violence, it is vital to encourage sufficient provision for those with convictions, to both encourage desistance and prevent future harm and victimisation. Ultimately, the chapter aims to encourage further research on the use of community hubs for people convicted for sexual offences and advocates for their innovative and desistance-focused potential with this population
Female sexual offending is a growing public health problem because of the negative health outcomes it brings and the reluctance of society to acknowledge its prevalence and to address the matter to the same extent it does male sexual offending. Literature reveals that when it comes to female sexual offending, there is a lack of effective intervention and prevention strategies. This chapter examines the role of adult and adolescent female sexual offenders and their typologies, including those in the healthcare profession. We address the emergence of female sex traffickers. Attention is also given to the victims of female sexual offending. We offer viable criminal justice and healthcare interventions and prevention strategies to address female sexual offending.
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The idea of a reentry court for ex-convicts returning to the community is an important new idea, but the premise behind it is rather familiar. Most of the models developed for reentry courts are based on what former Attorney General Janet Reno referred to as a "carrot and stick" philosophy, mixing heightened surveillance with additional treatment and other resources. In this paper, we briefly review the empirical and theoretical evidence in favor of this approach. We argue that an emerging policy narrative - which we refer to as "strengths-based" - holds considerable promise as an alternative or an addition to traditional talk of carrots and sticks. We describe a variety of strengths-based practices in corrections and drug addiction treatment and consider the psychological theory and research in support of this new narrative. Finally, we describe how a strengths-based reentry court would differ from more traditional models.
Structured Professional Judgement Guidelines for assessing and managing violence risk
This paper describes the construction and testing of a framework for dynamic risk assessment. A review of previous studies identified 4 domains into which dynamic risk factors for sexual offending seem to fall. These were sexual interests, distorted attitudes, socioaffective functioning, and self-management. Psychometric indicators for 3 of the domains were identified, and 2 studies are reported using these indicators to test the framework. Study 1 divided men serving a prison sentence for a sexual offense against a child into 2 groups-those with a previous conviction of this kind (Repeaters) and those for whom this was the only time they had been sentenced for such an offense (Current Only). The Repeaters were found to show more distorted attitudes, worse socioaffective functioning, and poorer self-management than did the Current Only group. Study 2 used a simple algorithm to combine these psychometric indicators into an overall “Deviance” classification. Reconviction data was obtained for offenders classified as high, moderate, or low on Deviance. Sexual reconviction was found to be monotonically associated with the Deviance classification. Logistic regression analysis showed that both static variables (Static-99) and the Deviance classification made independent contributions to prediction. It is suggested that risk assessment procedures should combine these 2 approaches.
The SAPROF is an assessment tool developed for the structured assessment of protective factors for violence risk. Following the SPJ model, the SAPROF was designed as a positive addition to SPJ risk assessment tools, such as the HCR-20, creating a more balanced assessment of risk for future (sexual) violence. The SAPROF aims to contribute to an increasingly accurate and well-rounded risk assessment. Moreover, the dynamic positive approach of protective factors aims to provide concrete guidelines for effective and achievable treatment interventions. The SAPROF can be a valuable tool for positive treatment planning, risk management and clinical evaluation. Research on the SAPROF shows good interrater reliability and good predictive validity for violent recidivism after treatment as well as for violent incidents during treatment. Results are equally good for violent as for sexual offenders. Moreover, observed changes during treatment in dynamic protective factor scores prove to be a good predictor for future recidivism. Frequent users of the SAPROF in forensic psychiatry comment that the tool is helpful in formulating treatment goals, atoning treatment phasing and facilitating risk communication. Vivienne de Vogel, Corine de Ruiter, Yvonne Bouman and Michiel de Vries Robbé (2007) originally developed the SAPROF in Dutch. Subsequently, the tool was translated into several languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian. For more information on the SAPROF you may visit
This study used data from the Seattle Social Development Project to examine factors in adolescence that affect the probability of violent behavior at age 18 among youths who received high teacher ratings of aggression at age 10. The study found a lower probability of violence among youths at age 18 was associated with attendance at religious services, good family management by parents, and bonding to school at age 15. A higher probability of later violence was associated with living in a disorganized neighborhood and having the opportunity for and involvement with antisocial peers at age 15. The likelihood of violence of age 18 among aggressive youths was reduced when they were exposed to multiple protective factors of age 15, even for those simultaneously exposed to risk factors. Implications of these findings for the development of preventive interventions during adolescence are discussed.