Sex Crime Offenders – National Crime Victimization Survey/Social Learning Theory/Sex Crime Policy/Mental Illness (Completed Exam – CCJ 5546)

Criminal Justice

Sex Crime Offenders – National Crime Victimization Survey/Social Learning Theory/Sex Crime Policy/Mental Illness (Completed Exam – CCJ 5546)

National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

In what ways is the National Crime Victimization Survey one of the best available sources of accurate information on sex crime, especially in comparison to arrest or court data? What are its limitations? What would be better and why?

National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is a household survey that is conducted national wide and is conducted by the Census Bureau for Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on an ongoing basis (Mancini, 2014). BJS uses it as a major tool for providing statistics on criminal victimizations, robbery, sexual assault, covering rape, theft and household burglary among others. Over the years, NCVS has been useful in terms of providing information on the crimes that have not been reported by the police. It aids in the provision of statistics in the whole U.S population by focusing on all groups of people and providing reported and unreported data.  In addition to reporting the crimes, the NCVS gives people an opportunity of understanding the impact of crime and how it is likely for people to be victimized. Moreover, NCVS offers a wide range of variables relating to criminal victimization including information that relates to criminal offenders, crime victims and the context of crime. Overall, NCVS aids in having an understanding of the trends and nature of various crimes that have been committed.

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Nevertheless, there are some limitations associated with the data provided by NCVS. Langton et al. (2017) explain that the FBI and BJS make efforts in creating reliable data meant to make the nation safer although observers believe that the data provided by NCVS is not adequate mostly when one looks beyond the systems of policing. NCVS focuses on the generation of national estimates of victimization hence the data cannot be used in estimating crime in other geographical levels such a county or state level. Additionally, NCVS has a limited age coverage since the information collected does not include persons under the age of 12 thus findings cannot be generalized to this group. Reid (2015) argues that NCVS also tends to have a crime coverage that is limited since the data collected is on few personal and property crimes and various crimes may be excluded. In this regard, NCVS tends to focus mostly on street crimes and excludes other offenses such as kidnapping, embezzlement, homicide and crimes against businesses among others. Just like any other form of survey, the data collected by NCVS is subject to sampling and non sampling error despite the efforts taken to reduce errors (Mancini, 2014).

Therefore, there are various recommendations on the improvements that can be made on NCVS. For instance, NCVS can consider having estimates of different states or counties in order to have an idea of which states or counties have high rates of crime and how they can be minimized. It is challenging to generalize the data collected from NCVS on the geographical levels since it is generalized national wide. Also, it would be advisable to consider crimes committed by even children under the age of 12 since in the recent times crimes relating to sex for instance is being committed even to children under the age of 12. Moreover, including other types of crime or all types of crime in their survey is very crucial in the determination of different types of crime rates national wide. As such, the data will not only be limited mostly to the street crimes. This is crucial mostly in the recent times when some crimes such as kidnapping have been on the rise and measures have to be put into place on how to eradicate such crimes.

Biological and Social Learning Theory in relation to Sex Crime Policy

Assess the likely effectiveness of a sex crime policy (of your choosing) by applying two theories from chapter 4. For example, what would these theories suggest about the likely effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a policy? Why?

Some of the criminological theories that can be used to explain the likely effectiveness of sex crime policy are the biological and social learning theories. In regards to social learning theories, they explain that the behavior of an individual is explained by sociological factors as opposed to the mental or physical traits (Mancini, 2014). Particularly, these theories explain that the cues in the larger society lead to offenders committing sex offenses since they learn from them. One of the examples of the sex crimes that can be as a result of social learning theories is the issue of rape. Harper & Harris (2017) assert that interacting with others in a direct or indirect way leads to courses of behavior that is consistent with the actions, norms or values of social groups. For instance, it is likely for the rape offense to be normalized when it is done by someone we know, since in most cases people are used to the idea of rape being committed by strangers. Also, society is known to trust family members such that they can be entrusted to take care of mostly the young girls. However, it is worth noting that most of the rape cases are committed by family members and they may end up not being reported since the victims may fear to report them. Additionally, close friends can commit rape crimes and when this happens people around the victim may not believe it since they assume that such a person cannot do such a thing. Other cases of rape influenced by social actions are raping people who are mentally ill and those who are mostly in the streets. Since the rapists cannot be identified in this case, they may end up getting away with it. Moreover, people may not care so much about people who are mentally ill and are on the streets.

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On the other hand, biological theories explain crimes by assuming some of the individuals are “born as criminals” and they tend to be physiologically distinct from the people who are not criminals. The biological theories focus on intelligence, genetic inheritance, neurophysiological conditions such as disabilities caused by brain damage and biochemical conditions among others (McAlinden et al., 2017). In some cases, biological theories can be used to explain why men are rapists. The theories explain that despite there being no “gene” that leads to men cheating; there may be a consequence of evolution due to the existence of a predisposition to rape. In this regard, the predisposition of men to rape may lead to men having more success in their reproduction for instance having many offspring.  This results in a widespread predisposition to rape among males over a long period time due to their reproductive advantage. The biological explanations of the behavior of the perpetrators are paired with the biological explanations of the behaviors of victim of sexual assault. Women have evolved to resist rape since having sex with a limited number of partners is desirable. The traumatic experience that is associated with sexual assault also leads to women avoiding being victims of rape and also those who have experienced it try to avoid being raped again. In as much as the acknowledgement of the biological basis of rape is not an excuse for rape, such theories can contribute to and perpetuate beliefs that excuse perpetrators from being responsible for their actions.

Sex offenders are mentally ill – a myth.

Describe a myth (of your choosing) from chapter 5. Explain what may give rise to it. Assess its implications for effective or ineffective policy. Finally, identify strategies that might be undertaken to counter misunderstanding that contributes to the myth.

In the past decades, the myth that most sex offenders are mentally ill has become popular. Research has been conducted on the same issue and it has been found that several sexual violence and offenses are associated with mental health issues (Mancini, 2014). McCartan et al. (2015) assert that rape may be associated with learning disability and organic brain damage as well as disorders that relate to acquired brain damage and congenital damage.  For adolescent males, there is an aspect of trying to distinguish between sexual impulses and aggressiveness since it can affect their ability to controlling aggressive tendencies during sexual activities. The argument can be that both violent and sexual impulses originate from the brain. There are some of the vulnerable individuals who may have early adverse developmental experiences as well as hormonal functioning being different. A study conducted by Langton et al. (2017) in Sweden explained that at least 3.9% of the rapists in a large sample were found to have head injuries. Nevertheless, Reid (2015) from a psychiatric point of view argues that most rapists are not mentally ill. People who often commit rape or show sexual behavior that is abnormal are those with schizophrenia or related psychoses. There are studies that show that rapists may have experienced some early life adversities such as dysfunctional family relations, physical abuse and sexual abuse which may have an effect on their healthy adult relationships. These experiences can lead to dismissive attachment characterized by suspicion of, hostility to and unempathic as well as cruel attitudes toward attachment figures.

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One of the strategies that can be used to counter the misunderstanding of this myth is the involvement of psychiatrists. Their involvement is justified ethically by treating and detaining the patient thus helping the person and this is not considered as a punishment. Moreover, psychiatrists have a role to play by having an educational and constructive role by assisting criminal justice agencies in managing rape crimes (Reid, 2015). In this regard, there is a need for proper leadership and vision to aid in developing the forensic mental health. There can be programs that are meant to train the next generation or young people in the field that deals with mental health to assess and manage behaviors that lead to sexual crimes such as rape. Additionally, doctors should be governed by moral principles that direct their actions as doctors and care givers of individuals with mental health as well as protecting themselves from unjust and excessive demands. They should also act in a way that reduces stigma concerning people with mental health being associated with rape and mostly men.


Harper, C. A., & Harris, A. J. (2017). Applying moral foundations theory to understanding public views of sexual offending. Journal of Sexual Aggression23(2), 111-123.

Langton, L., Planty, M., & Lynch, J. P. (2017). Second major redesign of the national crime victimization survey (ncvs). Criminology & Pub. Pol’y16, 1049.

Mancini, C. (2014). Sex crime, offenders, and society: A critical look at sexual offending and policy. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

McAlinden, A. M., Farmer, M., & Maruna, S. (2017). Desistance from sexual offending: Do the mainstream theories apply?. Criminology & Criminal Justice17(3), 266-283.

McCartan, K. F., Kemshall, H., & Tabachnick, J. (2015). The construction of community understandings of sexual violence: Rethinking public, practitioner and policy discourses. Journal of Sexual Aggression21(1), 100-116.

Reid, S. T. (2015). Crime and criminology. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

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