Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Assessment of Sexual Offenders against Children. the APSAC Study Guides 1

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Assessment of Sexual Offenders against Children. the APSAC Study Guides 1

Article excerpt

Assessment of Sexual Offenders Against Children. The APSAC Study Guides 1. Vernon L. Quinsey and Martin L. Lalumiere. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996. Softcover: $95.00; 98 pages.

It was not so long ago that the skills necessary to perform forensic assessments were learned on the job, not in graduate programs. Today, there are forensic tracks in some graduate programs in clinical psychology and there are a few postdoctoral settings in which forensic specialties are taught. Even in these settings it is likely that the student or postdoctoral fellow will learn only the rudiments of general forensic assessment (e.g., mental illness and criminal responsibility, general dangerousness). It is very unlikely in most settings that the student will learn to adequately assess sexual offenders. This slim volume is directed toward teaching the basics of such an assessment. Having said that, I should emphasize that this is not a book that even a professional skilled in general forensic assessment could read and then immediately perform a proper sex offender assessment. It is definitely not a work for an undergraduate or even a first or second year graduate student assistant. This book will give the reader only the big picture of what one of these assessments would look like. However, having acquired the flavor of the assessment procedure, supervised instruction in conducting such an assessment would probably go more smoothly.

Those of us even modestly familiar with the sex offender evaluation and treatment literature know that the available information is so diverse that one could conceivably argue any point and find at least some support for it. What Quinsey and Lalumiere do very nicely is to compile this information and say: On this issue here is what the literature generally reports. This is done repeatedly at strategic points in the narrative. I found this periodic summarizing the greatest value in this book.

I am not aware of any other work on offender assessment of this specific type. Therefore, I believe that it both fits into the aggregate literature in this area as well as offering a unique contribution. I found it to be well-written, fairly easy to read, and reasonably clear in its exposition. However, I am experienced in this business and I understand both the pros and cons of many of the arguments raised. At 63 densely written pages of text, the less experienced reader and surely the casual reader will find it pretty heavy going. I would now like to turn to the specific sections of the work.

The introduction and the following chapter on the characteristics of sex offenders are very good summaries of the available evidence. The brief section on topologies could usefully be omitted. The third chapter on implications for practice is the meat of the book. Here the authors note the importance of an extensive clinical interview that sharply focuses upon sexual behavior, specifically deviant sexual behavior. They describe some psychological tests with which most readers will be unfamiliar. …

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