Psychology, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Mario J. Scalora. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2010
Copyright 2010 Veronica Chavez


As the juvenile justice system has evolved, there has been a need for clinicians to make judgments about risk posed by adolescents who have committed sexual offenses. There are inherent difficulties in attempting to assess risk for violence among adolescents due to the developmental changes taking place and the absence of well-validated instruments to guide risk prediction judgments. With minority groups increasing in numbers in the U.S., it is likely that professionals will encounter minority individuals when conducting risk assessments. Overall questions regarding race/ethnicity have been neglected and there are few if any published research that explores risk factors with minority juvenile sex offenders.

The present study examined whether differences exist between Caucasian and racial/ethnic minority adolescent sexual offenders on four risk assessment measures (J-SORRAT-II, J-SOAP-II, SAVRY, and ERASOR). The sample of 207 male adolescent sexual offenders was drawn from treatment facilities in a Midwestern state. Overall results indicated that minority adolescent sex offenders had fewer risk factors endorsed than Caucasian youth across all risk assessment tools. Exploration of interactions between race and factors such as: family status, exposure to family violence, and family history of criminality upon the assessment tools risk ratings yielded non-significant findings. Limitations, suggestions for future directions, and clinical implications are discussed.