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Research: Recidivism and other offending figures

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Template: Research - This template
Source: Home Office (UK)

Recidivism (category-specific re-offending) and re-offending (all re-offending) are low among sex offenders, particularly child sex offenders. Studies reporting 80, 90 or 95% rates use flawed or atypical methodology not comparable to that used for other rates. Those who provided data that was misused towards such ends have described such statistical abuse in the Supreme Court as a disgrace.[1]


For reasons of self-preservation, most governments have not capitulated to an agenda-driven approach when reporting re-offending among sex and child sex offenders. These authoritative sources put to bed the myth of high rates of re-offending, and indicate that child sex offending has very low rates of recidivism and re-offending.


  • Ministry of Justice (2009) for the British Home Office.
    7-12% reoffending over 1 year (2000-2007) and The lowest total number of re-offences (all types) per 100 offenders, per original crime type. A negligible number of recidivous relapses per child sexual offender (0.03% over 1 year), with only drugs production and trafficking being lower. Younger child sex offenders appear to be more common and significantly more likely to re-offend than older CSOs. Other data suggests that the reoffending rate for juveniles (10-17) in both the sex and child sex categories is considerably higher (over twofold for juvenile child sex offenders), but remember that this does not necessarily apply to specific recidivism, where data is sparse.
  • Patrick, Steven, and Marsh, Robert (2009). "Recidivism Among Child Sexual Abusers: Initial Results of a 13-Year Longitudinal Random Sample," Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 18(2), 123-136.
    9.2% over a 15-year period for child molesters recidivating in the generic SO category.
    "Forty-one of the 447 cases showed known recidivism for another sex crime (sex crime is a broader category than child sexual abuse). This means that the reconviction rate for sexual abuse was no more than 9.2% over this 15-year period."


In 2015, Seto found only 9% recidivism for child pornography, over a 5 year period.[2]


  • Dr Frans Gieles on Hanson and Bussière (1998)
    13.4% (recidivism for sex offenders) and 12.7 (recidivism for child sex offenders) in a 4.5 (average) year interval.
    "On average, the sex offense recidivism rate was 13.4% (n = 23.393). The average rate for rapists was 18.9% (n = 1.839), for child molesters it was 12.7% (n = 9.603). For nonsexual violence, the average recidivism rate was 12.2% (n = 7.155); for child molesters it was 9.9% (n = 1.774), but for rapists it was 22.1% (n = 782). When recidivism was defined as any reoffence, the rates were higher: 36.3% overall (n = 19.374), for child molesters 36,9% (n = 3.363) and for rapists 46.2% (n = 4017)".
  • Recidivism of Sex Offenders - CSOM.org, 2001.
    The studies are not comparable, and use different intervals.
    10% recidivism rate for rapists (Grumfeld and Noreik (1986))
    4% recidivism rate for incest offenders.
    19% recidivism rate over 5 years for child molesters (Prentky, 1997)
    10-29% and 13-40% recidivism rates for child molesters (Marshall and Barbaree (1990), compared to 7-35% for rapists for example.
  • Why "Megan's" Laws Are Unconstitutional - Jim Love, Prisonerlife.com.
    "By writing the National Criminal Justice Reference Center, P.O. Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20849-6000, you can obtain the following reports.
    NCJ-163392 (February 7, 1997), Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, finds the recidivism rate of 2,214 convicted rapists released from prison was 7.7% after three years. The only category of crimes with a lower recidivism rate are those persons convicted of murder (6.8%).
    NCJ-193427 (June, 2002), Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, finds the recidivism rate of 3,138 convicted rapists released from prison was 2.5% after three years. The only category of crimes with a lower recidivism rate are those persons convicted of murder (1.2%).
    In April, 2001, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) released a report also on the recidivism rate of released sex offenders. In Ten-Year Recidivism Follow-Up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases, Office of Policy, Bureau of Planning and Evaluation, Paul Konicek, Principle Researcher, (available at www.drc.state.oh.us), the recidivism rate of 879 sex offenders released from Ohio’s prisons in 1989, after ten (10) years, was found to be 8% for new sex offenses.
    The ODRC study finds its results as typical, citing to:
    1) Gibbons, Soothill, and Way, found in Furby, Weinrott & Blackshaw, 1989. (Twelve year study finding sex offender recidivism rate of 4%).
    2) Gibbons, Soothill, and Way 1980, found in Furby, Weinrott & Blackshaw, 1989. (Thirteen year study finding sex offenders recidivism rate of 12%).
    4) New York Department of Corrections, nine year follow-up study. Finding a 6% rate of recidivism for new sex offenses."

Attempts to "treat" sex offenders in general

For the somewhat more famous and well-documented, failed pedophile reorientation attempts, see Research: A "cure" for pedophilia?

Unsurprisingly, attempts to establish the efficacy of Sex Offender Treatment (SOT) for convicts have produced results that sit firmly within the bounds of random chance/statistical noise, after most confounds have been eliminated. The UK Ministry of Justice appears to be aware that their efforts have been a massive (and to taxpayers, expensive) failure, but shows no willingness to sever the roots of this now highly profitable industry.

  • UK Ministry of Justice (2017). Impact evaluation of the prison-based Core Sex Offender Treatment Programme
    "The results suggest that while Core SOTP in prisons is generally associated with little or no changes in reoffending, there were some statistically significant differences. In particular, there were small increases in the sexual and child image reoffending rates. The sexual reoffending treatment effect was -1.1pp rather than 2.0pp for those who received an OASys assessment, possibly reflecting these offenders having greater involvement with offender managers. This in combination with treatment could potentially foster greater therapeutic alliance, thereby enhancing treatment effectiveness (e.g. Cooper and Lesser, 2011). However, it was stable across most of the sensitivity analyses performed. Early evaluation of the Core SOTP found no treatment effect on the 2-year sexual reconviction rate for sexual offences (Friendship et al., 2003), and the international research on the effectiveness of treatment for sex offenders provides a mixed picture. While some quantitative reviews of available research have found that treatment reduces reoffending in sex offenders (Hanson et al., 2002; Hanson et al., 2009; Lösel and Schmucker, 2005; Schmucker and Lösel, 2008; Schmucker and Lösel, 2015), a review of randomised control trials only found no beneficial effect of psychological interventions (Dennis et al., 2012)."
  • Stephens, S., Elchuk, D., Davidson, M. et al. (2022) A Review of Childhood Sexual Abuse Perpetration Prevention Programs Current Psychiatry Reports 24, DOI: 10.1007/s11920-022-01375-8
    "There is insufficient evidence to determine whether perpetration prevention programs are effective."
    a comment from B4U-ACT Quarterly Review, Volume 3, Issue 2, Spring 2023, p 29:
    "The paper provides an overview of existing programs [...] The initial findings of PPD [Prevention Project Dunkelfeld] were positive, and displayed significant changes across multiple risk factors for persistent sexual offending (e.g., loneliness, offense-supportive cognitions, etc.), though there was no change in offending behavior. Importantly, self-esteem worsened during intervention, a finding that warrants further exploration."

The effect of sex offender restrictions

  • Brown, K. M. & Kloess J. A. (2022). Attitudes towards and perceptions of females who sexually offend against children: a comparison between students and professionals. Journal of Sexual Aggression, DOI: 10.1080/13552600.2022.2110292
    “Attitudes hold cognitive and affective attributions which can inform behaviour directed towards individuals who sexually offend/have sexually offended (Harper et al., 2017). Such behaviour may create barriers in the form of refusing to accept them re-entering and -integrating back into society (Willis et al., 2010).”
    “The influence attitudes and perceptions have on decision-making is important as negative attitudes held by the general public towards individuals who have committed sexual offences has contributed to current legislation perceived to protect the public, including restrictions upon movement (e.g. not living within a specific distance from schools, travelling abroad) and community notifications, where the general public can access information on those convicted of sexual offences who live in close proximity to them (Levenson & Cotter, 2005). The general public are of the view that such legislation is positive and reduces risk. However, research has found no support for these strategies in reducing recidivism (Nobles et al., 2012; Tewksbury & Jennings, 2010; Zgoba et al., 2010). The public may therefore be unintentionally increasing the risk they wish to reduce through calling for the implementation of strategies that are predominantly informed by attitudes and perceptions (Willis et al., 2010).”
  • Agan, Amanda Y. (2008) Sex Offender Registries: Fear Without Function?
    "The fact that this pattern of non-effectiveness shows up in all the datasets does not support the conclusion that the sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates."

The Dark Figure

None of these figures give an accurate indication of the true extent of a released offender's behaviour, which can only be speculated upon. Mainstream feminist or victimological critics would assert that recidivism for child sex offending is particularly low because the victim is sexually oppressed and in a state of hidden suffering. However, a libertarian perspective may counter that (particularly in the case of sex contacts with teenagers, which make up a large majority of such cases), what we are seeing is an unusually high prevalence of unreported consensual crime. Without any doubt, western society provides an environment that is far more inductive to the disclosure of victimisation than consensual crime. This is supported by other research (covered in this project), which shows better outcomes for younger partners in unreported instances of intergenerational sex.

Facts and figures according to SOL Reform Groups and their allies

See NARSOL ("Palm card"), Once Fallen and Florida Action Committee. Or the ACLU, for example.

Important note: These perspectives use all sex offending (not just "child" offending) as their reference point unless otherwise stated. While NewgonWiki exists to challenge the basis of the sex-crime designation re. age-based offending, SOL Reform/Registry Reform organizations challenge the resulting treatment of the offender. By looking into these organizations, you will get a broader perspective on the issues they cover. Registry reform organizations such as the ones above have compiled lists of research detailing facts such as:

  • Recidivism rates
  • The (high) percentage of "victims" who have previously known the "perpetrator"'
  • The very high percentage of crimes committed by people who are not even on the registry (around 90-95%)
  • The ineffectual nature of registries and restrictions, plus collateral damages

Liberal media such as Huffington Post and The New Yorker[3] have sometimes been amenable to registry-reform positions, as have been the ACLU[4] and ABA. A brief analysis of SOL Reform positions reveals the following observations re. sex offender registries and their implications for human rights, law-enforcement, budgeting and other areas of concern in public life:

  • Youth are regularly added to registers, fuelling concerns over their true potential to "protect the vulnerable". In 2008, 7,500 offenders were added to the Texas register after committing sex crimes as "children".[5] This is a natural consequence of high offending rates in this age group (as detection rate is very low in this age group, even more could be added if surveillance were increased). The American Bar Association, for example, list numerous adverse consequences of registering juveniles. These include increasing the likelihood of youth suicide, homelessness and vigilante justice, increasing stigma in ways counterproductive to rehabilitation, interfering with education and employment, and discriminating against ethnic minorities.[6]
  • Gay and Black people are more often targeted by civil commitment and RSO laws[7] (nearly 1% of Black men are RSOs, for example).[8][9]
  • Failure to discriminate between actual danger and alternative sexuality.[10] The public list conflates consensual crimes with rape. For example, "Justin Fawcett, whose name was among 22 penned in a 14-year-old girl's sex diary, was found dead in his bedroom Friday [...] The girl's diary later revealed she had been sneaking out of her parents' Bloomfield Township home in the middle of the night to have oral and anal sex with 22 boys and men. [...] In a May 2002 interview with the Free Press, the girl conceded that she was a predator and a victim: "I declare I am both. Yes, I'm a victim. I was a victim who was deceived by my own emotions and ignorance, of misplaced confidence, a victim of my own fantasies . . . Yes, predator for I chase people who themselves were victims of misplaced confidence."" The case[11] mentioned also brought up the issue of unconstitutional, retroactive law.
The case[12] of Martin is also pertinent. "It's true that a decade ago, he was convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl who was half his age. But the registry doesn't divulge that his victim was his girlfriend who now is his common-law wife, with whom he has three children. Glancing at his profile, there's little to distinguish him from the repeat pedophiles and violent rapists who are among the 54,000-plus registered sex offenders in the state's database. “I just can't equate my offense with the guy who sat next to me in my therapy sessions who raped his 5-year-old stepson,” said Martin, 42. He asked that his last name not be used for this article for fear that his children will be stigmatized. [...] Linda Ingraham, a psychologist in Dallas who has treated sex offenders in her private practice, said most people would be surprised at the number of low-risk misdemeanor offenders. She said she's probably treated 200 people who were forced to register because they were caught several times having consensual sex in a park."
  • False Positives can occur in these very large systems. For example, Scott Ibarra was listed, despite having his conviction overturned years before.
  • Residency restrictions simply do not work. They force offenders into undesirable situations, increasing their resentment against society and the risk of recidivism. When you put an offender in this kind of situation, what do they have to lose?
  • What point is there putting people at increased risk of vigilantism (and debatably reoffending)[13] when 90-95% of new offences will be committed by unregistered offenders anyway?
  • Relatives can be unfairly targeted[14] - with threats and harassment common.[15] At the extreme end, murders are not unheard of.

Taken as a whole, why pursue this punitive and ineffectual scheme when we already know the costs incurred to the taxpayer are obscene?[16]

Excerpt Gallery Library

Our gallery on Laws, Facts and Figures contains some relevant information for sharing in image format.


  1. Reason: I'm appalled, says source of pseudo-statistic
  2. Seto, M. C., & Eke, A. W. (2015). Predicting recidivism among adult male child pornography offenders: Development of the Child Pornography Offender Risk Tool (CPORT). Law and Human Behavior, 39(4), 416–429.
  3. New Yorker: The List
  4. Huffpo: Sex Offender Registries Don't Keep Kids Safe, But Politicians Keep Expanding Them Anyway
  5. Texas Department of Public Safety/Chron, 2008
  6. Ten Ways Youth Sex Offender Registration Harms Kids - ABA
  7. Injustice: How the Sex Offender Registry Destroys LGBT Rights - Advocate
  8. Trevor Hoppe, “Punishing Sex: Sex Offenders and the Missing Punitive Turn in Sexuality Studies,” Law & Social Inquiry 41, no. 3 (2016): 573–94, 584
  9. Hoppe et al (2020), CIVIL COMMITMENT OF PEOPLE CONVICTED OF SEX OFFENSES in the United States1. Thousands of people are in civil commitment in the United States. There are over 6,300 people detained in the 20 state and federal civil commitment programs. 2. In most states, Black men were vastly overrepresented among the population of civilly committed persons. Based on data from 13 states with reliable data, Black residents faced a rate of SVP detention more than twice that of White residents: 7.72 per 100,000 Black residents as compared with 3.11 per 100,000 White residents aged sixteen or older. 3. Sexual minority men are disproportionately detained in sex offense civil commitment facilities. In the two states with reliable data about the sex of the victim, New York and Texas, men who had victims who were male were 2 to 3 times as likely to be civilly committed than men with only female victims. This trend was consistent for Black men, White men, and Hispanic men. These patterns suggest that gay/bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are seen as more violent, more dangerous or mentally ill, and more deserving commitment under SVP statutes as compared with heterosexuals.
  10. Look Who's on the Registry Now
  11. Detroit Free Press - Archive
  12. San Antonio News Archive
  13. Wakefield - The Vilification of Sex Offenders: Do Laws Targeting Sex Offenders Increase Recidivism and Sexual Violence?
  14. “Secondary registrants”: A new conceptualization of the spread of community control - Leon and Kilmer
  15. Levenson and Tewksbury (2009): Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders. American Journal of Criminal Justice.
  16. SORNA Costs