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Collateral Effects of the Media on Sex Offender Reintegration: Perceptions of Sex Offenders, Professionals, and the Lay Public

February 2012:


Aim/Background: Sexual offending results in devastating consequences for victims and is of great concern to the public; prevention of re-offending is an important endeavour. The media has a marked influence on public views and frequently draws attention to sex offenders, often producing sensational stories about them. Doing so may affect sex offenders' opportunities for reintegration into the community, by affecting their reception by the public and thereby increasing their risk of recidivism.

Methods: The current study surveyed 167 sex offenders, professionals who work with them, and university students regarding their perceptions of how the media portrays sex offenders and the effects these portrayals have on sex offender reintegration. The potential moderating effect of attitudes was evaluated using the CATSO.

Results: Overall, participants indicated that the media portrays sex offenders negatively. The sample also identified a number of specific sex offender reintegration factors, such as housing, jobs, and relationships, as being negatively impacted by the media's portrayal of sex offenders. No significant effects of attitudes, as measured by the CATSO, were observed.

Conclusions: The overall sample agreed that the media presents sex offenders in a negative manner, that media portrayals of sex offenders affect public attitudes towards sex offenders, and that these negative portrayals affect a number of specific reintegration factors (i.e., housing, employment, etc). Due to the relationship between community reintegration and recidivism, it was concluded that the link between media portrayals of sex offenders and reintegration should be explored further. ..Source.. by Gabriela Corabian1, Neil Hogan2

1 Educational Psychology Department, University of Alberta, Canada
2 Psychology Department, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

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