Juvenile sex offenses in Dakota County more severe
Increased home dysfunction cited
Over the past nine years, the severity of crimes committed by juvenile sex offenders in Dakota County treatment has increased.
“The numbers of kids hitting the system aren’t necessarily growing,” said Dakota County Community Services Director Kelly Harder, “but the severity of issues around children’s mental health, family dysfunction, sexual offense … is becoming more complex.”
According to the county, more youths are committing sexual offenses at younger ages.
Harder reported that 11 percent of males in treatment ages 10 to 11 committed a sexual offense in 2008-2010 compared to 8 percent in that age group in 2001-2003.
Most youth sex offenders are males between the ages of 12 to 14 and the next largest group is males ages 15 to 17.
Harder said family situations have worsened, and youth depressions are more complicated, deeper and more schizophrenic-like.
In 2001-03, 3 percent of the 80 youth sex offenders being treated by Dakota County tested as “pervasive antisocial,” needing the highest level of treatment.
In 2008-10, 11 percent of the 79 treated exhibited behaviors indicating the same diagnosis.
The three levels of juvenile sexual offenders start with those who are developmental or situational offenders and have a single or few episodes of sexual abuse of a child or peer.
Next, are psychosocially impaired offenders who manipulate or trick younger children, peers or adults. Those type of offenders plan and set their victims up.
The top level is the pervasive antisocial offender who is aggressive and forceful in a sexual act; they can be triggered by frustration or rage.
“Their capacity to handle their emotions, rejection from their parents and others, become very maladjusted psychology,” Harder said.
He explained they find “love” by tricking vulnerable younger children into relationships that warps into sexualized control and victimization.
“It has to do with malfunctioning life skills and coping skills at almost every level,” Harder said.
Some of the juveniles who become involved in these situations have been exposed to pornography and/or promiscuous parents immersed them in an “overly sexualized” home live, Harder said.
On the playground, the children play out what they see to be normal.
“Never did I work with a case where a kid saw something on the Web and it turned them into these pervasive perpetrators,” Harder said. “It was usually highly sexualized living environments where it was chronically, pervasively around them in the multiple forms it can come in.”
Treating those kinds of high-level youth sex offenders costs the county $100,000 per case per year.
Last year, Dakota County started using a provider for intense residential treatment at the detention center, and opened services to other counties, charging them $248 per day.
With the savings realized by not sending juveniles out for treatment and taking in cases from other counties, the program earned the county $55,000 in 2011 and so far this year has made the county $62,000.
From 2001 to 2011, of the 286 juvenile sex offenders Dakota County placed on probation after completing its program, 1.7 percent had a subsequent sexual offense, well below the national average of 7 percent.
Six juveniles have completed the county’s juvenile detention sexual offender treatment program, and the county plans to track the number of re-offenses and the nature of the re-offense.
“From a business standpoint, we think it’s a good business model for the county to stay involved in,” Harder said, calling the new program “another great tool to have in our tool belt for treatment options.”