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Juvenile Sex Offenders: Opportunity for Early Intervention
10 CEUs Juvenile Sex Offenders: Opportunity for Early Intervention

Section 21
Educational Programs for Juvenile Sex Offenders

Question 21 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Conduct Disorders CEU Courses
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

The correlation between the age distribution of rapists and the peaking of the male sexual drive in the teens and the twenties suggests that steps to prevent males from raping will be most effective if they focus on males during and before this age range, but only if they are really educated about their sexuality. Although rape-prevention methods based on the social science model also often stress the importance of influencing young males, they do not focus on male sexual impulses. For example, Parrot (1991, p. 131) states that the most crucial thing to teach boys is that rape "is a crime of violence motivated by the desire to control and dominate?' In essence, such "education" tells boys that, as long as their acts are motivated by sexual desire, they cannot be committing rape.

We envision an evolutionarily informed educational program for young men that focuses on increasing their ability to restrain their sexual behavior. Completion of such a course might be required, say, before a young man is granted a driver's license.

Such a program might start by getting the young men to acknowledge the power of their sexual impulses and then explaining why human males have evolved to be that way. A good starting point would be the evolutionary reasons why a young man can get an erection just by looking at a photo of a naked woman, why he may be tempted to demand sex even if he knows that his date truly doesn't want it, and why he may mistake a woman's friendly comment or her tight blouse as an invitation to have sex when in fact sex is practically the last thing on her mind. After each of these points, it should be emphasized that the reason a young man should know these things is so he can be on guard against certain effects of past Darwinian selection. The fallacy of the naturalistic fallacy-that a young man's evolved sexual desires offer him no excuse whatsoever for raping a woman, or for harming the interests of another person in any other way- should also be strenuously emphasized. Most important, the program should stress that, if he understands and adamantly resists his evolved desires, a young man may be able to prevent their manifestation in sexually coercive behavior. We suggest that the program conclude with a detailed and graphic discussion of the penalties for rape, including how much time a convicted rapist is likely to spend in prison and what conditions he can expect to encounter there. Though hypothetical at present, such a course may become a real possibility once the evolutionary basis of rape is widely understood.

A program of anti-rape education for females should begin with the same explanation of male sexual adaptations that should be used in the program for males. In addition to that and some instruction in self-defense, we suggest that the program address several matters that are typically ignored or denied by the social science model. As Mynatt and Allgeier (1990, p. 121) point out, "the identification of characteristics that are associated with high levels of risk for sexual coercion has received little attention. .. . However, educational programs aimed at reducing the vulnerability of women to sexual coercion are dependent on the acquisition of information concerning risk factors. . ."

Contrary to the social science explanation's claim that the sexual attractiveness of the victim has no effect on the rapist's motivation, there are certainly aspects of behavior and appearance that influence a woman's likelihood of becoming a rape victim.

The social science model not only denies that sexual attractiveness influences rapists; it also holds that the selection of a victim is determined- perhaps solely-by her vulnerability. In reality, however, age is universally a powerful determinant of a female's sexual attractiveness, and sexual attractiveness influences the chances of being raped. A woman is considered most attractive when her reproductive value and her fertility are at their peak (i.e., from the mid teens through the twenties). Hence, the evolutionary approach predicts that tactics that focus on protecting women of these ages will be the tactics most effective in reducing the overall frequency of rape. And, in fact, this prediction is supported by the correlation between the age distribution of rape victims and the age distribution of female sexual attractiveness (Mynatt and Allgeier 1990). The educational program for young women should also address how other elements of attractiveness (including health, symmetry, and hormone markers such as waist size), and clothing and makeup that enhance them, may influence the likelihood of rape (Singh 1993; Grammer and Thornhill 1994). This is not to say that young women should constantly attempt to look ill and infertile; it is simply to say that they should be made aware of the costs associated with attractiveness.

Young women should also be informed that female choice, over the course of the evolution of human sexuality, has produced men who will be quickly aroused by signals of a female's willingness to grant sexual access (Buss and Schmidt 1993; Grammer 1993). Furthermore, women need to realize that, because selection favored males who had many mates, men tend to read signals of acceptance into a female's actions even when no such signals are intended (Buss 1994; Mynatt and Allgeier 1990).

And it should be made clear that, although sexy clothing and promises of sexual access may be means of attracting desired males (Cashdan 1993), they may also attract undesired ones. Women's dress is receiving considerable attention from evolutionarily informed researchers. Cashdan (1993) found that, relative to college women in environments the women perceived to be richer in potential investors in offspring, college women who perceived that the men in their social environments were not potential investors dressed "sexier" and were more likely to use sex as a tool for getting and keeping mates-that is, the women in the apparently more investor-rich environments were more conservative in dress and in sexual behavior. This conservatism is a female tactic to increase the confidence of paternity of men capable of investment and thereby secure their investment.

The evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber (1998), who has examined dress length and other factors affecting skin exposure in women's fashions in the West, finds that, in general, women's dress follows patterns that can be predicted on the basis of whether sexual competition is more favorable for women or for men. When men outnumber women and have sufficient wealth to invest in women, styles of dress that depict sexual inaccessibility are most popular with women; when women outnumber men, the most popular fashions are less conservative. The ethologist Karl Grammer (1993), in a study of college women and women at bars, found that women at the midpoint of the menstrual cycle exposed the most skin. Although there is much more to be learned about women's dress behavior, these studies indicate that it is not arbitrary; rather, it is tactical, and it reflects adaptation for using clothing as sexual strategy.

Most discussions of female appearance in the context of rape have asserted that a victim's dress and behavior should affect the degree of punishment a rapist receives. These unjustified assertions may have led to the contrary assertions that dress and behavior have little or no influence on a woman's chances of being raped, not because there is convincing evidence that they don't, but out of a desire to avoid seeming to excuse the behavior of rapists to any extent. In one such counter-assertion, Sterling (1995, p. 119) writes that Amir's (1971) finding that 82 percent of rapes were at least partially planned indicates that "in most cases a woman's behavior has little, if anything, to do with the rape?' The logic of Sterling's argument is questionable; it implies that behavior and appearance also have little if anything to do with being asked out on a date, since a date is usually planned. But, more important, Sterling's argument suggests that young women need not consider how their dress and their behavior may affect the likelihood that they will be raped. The failure to distinguish between statements about causes and statements about responsibility has the consequence of suppressing knowledge about how to avoid dangerous situations. As Murphey (1992, p. 22) points out, the statement that no woman's behavior gives a man the right to rape does not mean that women should be encouraged to place themselves in dangerous situations.

An informed attitude toward risk factors in rape might be promoted at universities, where women currently receive a very different "education?' In women's studies courses, in other social science courses, and in "rape prevention handbooks:' they are told that rape is not sexually motivated and not related to the above-mentioned risk factors. For example, the "Myth vs. Fact" section of a handbook currently used in the Rape Prevention Education Program of the Police Department of the University of California at Davis begins with these assertions:

Myth-Sexual assault is caused by uncontrollable sex drives.
Fact-Sexual assault is an act of physical and emotional violence, not of sexual gratification. Rapists assault to dominate, humiliate, control, degrade, terrify, and violate. Studies show that power and anger are the primary motivating factors.

Myth-Women provoke sexual assault, and sex appeal is of prime importance in selecting targets.
Fact-Sexual assault victims range in age from infants to the elderly. Appearance and attractiveness are not relevant. A rapist assaults someone who is accessible and vulnerable.

This politically motivated stance denies that men (non-rapists and rapists) have evolved sexual preferences for young and healthy women and are attracted to women who signal potential sexual availability by means of dress and behavior. It is dangerous to women because it misinforms them about male behavior. If young women really understood the evolved nature of male sexuality, they surely would be in a better position to avoid rape.

We endorse the common-sense view of rape proposed by Camille Paglia (1992, 1994). Paglia, who sees rape as sexually motivated, urges women to be skeptical toward the feminist "party line" on the subject, to become better informed about risk factors, and to use the information to lower their risk of rape. Evolutionary biology, Paglia notes (1996, p. 69), "is forcing science back onto the feminist agenda, where it has been disgracefully absent." Knowledge is power.
An educational program for young women might also address the likelihood that it was the absence of evolutionary theory in Sigmund Freud's thinking about the mind's structure that led to the widespread adoption of the myth that women subconsciously desire to be raped. (See Freud 1933.) That myth was widely accepted in law and medicine from the 1930s to the early 1970s (Kanin 1994). In reality, any desire to be raped must always have been selected against in human evolutionary history, since it would have interfered with the fundamental reproductive strategy of females- i.e., to choose mates on the basis of the benefits they are likely to provide.
- Thornhill PhD, Randy and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion; The MIT Press: Massachusetts, 2000

Personal Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section contained information about educational programs for juvenile sex offenders. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

What is the politically motivated stance which denies that men (non-rapists and rapists) have evolved sexual preferences? Record the letter of the correct answer the Answer Booklet.

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