John W Burrell Philippa Laskey


Sexual offenders that can access a positive support network within their lives, have extremely lower levels of recidivism compared to those who do not receive support, or if negative support is given (Colorado Department of Public Safety, 2004). If an offender begins to feel isolated, hopeless or fearful then this might prohibit reintegration and trigger a relapse (Edwards & Hensley, 2001). This study investigated attitudes towards sexual offenders returning to live in the community. The specific aims of the study were to explore attitude differences using three variables; perpetrator gender, participant gender and parental status of participant. In total 643 participants (166 males, 477 females) were recruited. They completed one of two questionnaires based upon a fictional scenario featuring either a male or a female perpetrator of a sexual offence returning to live in the community. The findings of this study demonstrated that there were no significant differences in attitudes based upon the gender of the perpetrator. However, female participants were found to hold stronger punitive views compared to men; and parents were found to hold stronger punitive views compared to non-parents. Future research could build upon the current study to explore these differences. The findings obtained from this study have the potential to be used with professionals working with sexual offenders, to help the individual understand and prepare for reactions from the public when returning to society.