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Journal Article

Citation

Jones S, Cisler J, Morais H, Bai S. Sex Abuse 2018; 30(1): 82-103.

Affiliation

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2018, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/1079063216630980

PMID

26880789

Abstract

To effectively address the needs of youth who perpetrate sexual violence and reduce rates of recidivism, a better understanding of the mechanisms of juvenile sexual offending is needed. Current literature identifies various factors that are believed to put youth at risk for sexual offending, two of which are empathy deficits and childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The extent to which empathy deficits contribute to juvenile sexual offending, however, is often debated, though studies have not yet explored a neurobehavioral model of this mechanism. This pilot study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the neural correlates of empathy in juveniles who sexually offend (JSOs), and the possible role of CSA. A total of 38 males (ages 12-20) were enrolled, including 11 healthy control subjects and 27 JSOs, of which, 11 had a history of CSA. Participants underwent clinical assessment and completed an empathy task during fMRI. Using both whole-brain and region-of-interest analysis, results of the fMRI data showed no statistical differences in engagement of brain regions associated with empathy between controls and all JSOs. There were also no significant differences between JSOs with and without a history of CSA. These null findings pose implications for guiding future research studies with larger samples and more statistical power, and may support the need to further explore empathy-related explanatory models and interventions for JSOs. Neuroimaging may demonstrate to be a useful tool to identify individualized risk factors and aid in tailoring interventions for this population.

Keywords: Juvenile justice .


Language: en

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