• Perceptions around adult and child sex offenders and their rehabilitation as a function of education in forensic psychology independent of traditionalism and perpetrator sex  

      Rothwell, Megan; Fido, Dean; Heym, Nadja; Nottingham Trent University; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2020-12-15)
      Literature pertaining to individuals with sexual convictions typically reports punitive views about their crimes, sentences, and effectiveness of rehabilitation. However, such perceptions may be a function of offense demographics, such as victim age and perpetrator sex, and perceiver characteristics, such as their traditionalism or forensic awareness/education. Participants (N=101; 60% forensic psychology student; 40% general public) read online vignettes related to sexual offences (manipulating perpetrator sex and victim age), and completed measures of perceptions of sex offenders, perceived rehabilitation efficacy and traditionalism. Members of the general population (without forensic education background) reported harsher views towards individuals with sexual convictions and their rehabilitation, relative to students of forensic psychology, independent of their greater traditionalism. There was no main effect of or interaction with perpetrator sex. Whilst participants endorsed more negative perceptions towards sex offenders of child than adult victims, this did not extent to differences in perceptions regarding their rehabilitation. Findings reported here indicate a need for greater understanding as to the factors that might moderate perceptions towards individuals with sexual convictions, and have implications for the promotion of sex offender rehabilitation programmes. Understanding the root of such public attitudes is a key step for creating and improving associated policies.