IL: SIU researcher’s team advocates for new assessment, treatment approach for juvenile sex offenders

Source: 7/6/23

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Tamara Kang, assistant professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, and her colleagues have created a new research-based assessment for juvenile sex offenders, which they say is more accurate, effective and beneficial for the young offenders and society as a whole than current systems. And since 95-97% of juveniles won’t reoffend, the team recommends treatment over incarceration.

“A lot of times the public views juveniles with sex offenses as really dangerous, but the vast majority of them aren’t different from other juveniles,” Kang said. “Their brains aren’t fully formed, and they often don’t understand the consequences of their choices and of acting impetuously. They are often controlled by feelings and impulses. They make bad decisions, and their actions are wrong. But they are not necessarily bad people.”

With a multi-year study funded by a $1 million federal grant, Kang and her colleagues have created the Youth Needs and Progress Scale (YNPS), which takes into account the dynamic nature of adolescent development and the other related factors. Numerous states have adopted the YNPS in part or in whole, including Kentucky, Oregon, Georgia and Texas, and it’s in use in British Columbia as well, she said. In addition, it has already been translated into Japanese, Swedish and Polish for use in those countries.

Media availability

Tamara Kang, assistant professor in SIU Carbondale’s School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, is available for interviews. Contact her at

The costs of incarceration

Through time, Kang said, unique rules and laws, unlike those applied to most juvenile offenses, have been enacted in the United States to deal with juveniles with sexual offenses (JSOs), often resulting in costly incarceration. The juvenile court system has become criminalized, indeed becoming a mirror image of adult criminal court.

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How about adults as well? You have people thats been on the registry 20+ years crime free and cant get off because they’re supposedly dangerous because of an offense 30+ years ago which is pure stupidity.