Risk Assessment of Youth Who Have Sexually Abused: Theory, Controversy, and Emerging Strategies

By David S. Prescott, LICSW
November, 2005

Available from The Safer Society Press
(Click here for an order form)

ISBN: 978-1-885473-83-7 , 240 pgs

Professionals working with sexually aggressive youth frequently find themselves asked to make decisions about these youth. However, there are no empirically validated means by which these professionals can accurately predict who will and won’t become abusive in the future. Research shows that, on average, clinicians do poorly at predicting re-offense, and that considering too much information can make our predictions worse. However, there is enough emerging research that clinicians have an obligation to consider what is happening in the field to make treatment planning and supervision decisions. This book summarizes what is known and what is not, and offers suggestions for how to cope with this most unenviable task.


  • Discussion of sexual, violent and general recidivism among youthful populations

  • Risk assessment in the context of treatment planning and interventions

  • How treatment decisions are impacted by the nature of risk

  • Assessment of the interaction of risks and protective factors

  • Evaluation prior treatment experience and current research into treatment providers

  • Recommended structures for writing reports and informing treatment decisions

Chapter Authors

Patricia Coffey, PhD
Forensic Issues in Evaluating Juvenile Sex Offenders

Janis Bremer, PhD,
Building Resilience: An Ally in Assessment and Treatment,
— Protective Factors Scale: Determining Level of Intervention for Youth with Harming Sexual Behavior

Dennis Doren, PhD
Assessing Juveniles’ Risk within the Civil Commitment Context

Douglas Epperson, PhD, Christopher Ralston, MS, David Fowers, LCSW, John DeWitt, & PhD, Kathleen Gore, MS
Actuarial Risk Assessment with Juveniles Who Offend Sexually: Development of the Juvenile Sexual Offense Recidivism Risk Assessment Tool–II
— Juvenile Sexual Offense Recidivism Rate Assessment Tool–II

David S. Prescott, LICSW
Introductory Notes
Twelve Reasons to Avoid Risk Assessment
Terms and Tools,
— Dynamic Variables
Putting it All Together: Anchor Points and Communications
Four Reflections in Closing
A Sample Report

Review Comments

“David Prescott’s approach represents leading-edge thinking about challenges inherent to assessment. He is committed to finding valid and reliable ways to improve prediction and treatment planning. He combines state-of-the-art resources with pragmatic information to create meaningful information necessary to enhance successful treatment outcomes.”

— Joann Schladale, Resources for Resolving Violence

Risk Assessment of Youth Who Have Sexually Abused: Theory, Controversy, and Emerging Strategies is a powerful new book on assessing juveniles who sexually abuse. It challenges our tradition ways of thinking and assessing this highly specialized population with the best information we have in the field. This is a must read for anyone working with juveniles who sexually abuse.”

— Robert E. Longo
Independent Consulting and Training
Sexual Abuse Prevention & Education Resources, International