Demographic differences in public attitudes towards sex offenders

Willis, Gwenda M., Malinen, Sanna and Johnston, Lucy 2012, Demographic differences in public attitudes towards sex offenders, Psychiatry Psychology and Law, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 230-247.

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Title Demographic differences in public attitudes towards sex offenders
Author(s) Willis, Gwenda M.
Malinen, Sanna
Johnston, Lucy
Journal name Psychiatry Psychology and Law
Volume number 20
Issue number 2
Start page 230
End page 247
Total pages 18
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Abingdon, England
Publication date 2012
ISSN 1321-8719
Keyword(s) sex offenders
demographics
attitudes
Summary Emotionally fueled public responses to news of released sex offenders have the potential to jeopardize the re-entry process, for example, hindering access to stable housing and employment opportunities. Influencing change in public attitudes towards sex offenders so that they are conducive to successful community re-entry is important in efforts to prevent recidivism. Maximizing the effectiveness of attempts to change public attitudes first requires identifying whether specific demographic groups are more prone to negative attitudes, so that attempts to change attitudes can be appropriately targeted. In the present study, 401 community members completed an online questionnaire designed to assess the affective, cognitive and behavioral dimensions of attitudes towards sex offenders. Differences in attitudes towards sex offenders based on respondent sex, age, educational attainment, occupation, parental status and familiarity with victims and perpetrators of sexual assault were investigated. Females demonstrated more-negative attitudes on affective and behavioral measures compared with males, and respondents with low levels of educational attainment demonstrated more-negative attitudes than respondents with higher levels of educational attainment on cognitive and behavioral measures; however, all groups demonstrated negative attitudes towards sex offenders to some extent. Implications for community-level interventions that promote effective re-entry, and hence reduce the likelihood of sexual reoffending are discussed.
Language eng
Field of Research 179999 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30049404

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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