Archives for January 2014

Exposure to Pornography

At ABC Counseling, the therapists provide treatment for juvenile sex offenders or youth with sexually problematic behaviors. These children have engaged in inappropriate behaviors with peers or younger children. Each child’s inappropriate behaviors may be motivated by a variety of factors. One important factor that has a profound negative influence on children is exposure to pornography. At ABC, we understand that pornography has a significant influence in the lives of many children that develop sexual behavior problems. Unfortunately, the rates of pornography exposure have escalated, and a significant number of children and teens in society are exposed to pornography, especially through online sources. Pornography exposure can impact the brains of children, can lead to pornography addiction, and lead to unhealthy and deviant behaviors. To learn more about the prevalence and consequences of pornography, visit

By: Christina Meads, MS, Sexual Abuse Therapist

Let’s Talk About Sexual Abuse

Parents often ask when is the right time to talk with their child(ren) about sex and sexual abuse. The article provides some helpful suggestions and tips to guide parents down that road that is not familiar to them. For more safety tips, please check out the link at the bottom of the article for more information.

Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems: What Everyone Should Know

At ABC Counseling, many therapists work with a very specific population. In our field and in the research, they are known by many names: juvenile sex offenders, kids who sexually act out, youth with sexual behavior problems. In the general public, it is common to hear the words “sexual deviant,” “perpetrator,” “predator,” or “pedophile” applied to these same individuals. However, it is important to understand the significant differences between a youth and an adult who act out sexually, and use the correct terminology.

 A juvenile sex offender is a youth (under 18 years old) who engages in an inappropriate or illegal sexual behavior with a child his/her age or younger. Typically, these youth are motivated by a combination of sexual, emotional, psychological, and social factors, such as isolation, difficulty interacting with same-age peers, depression, exposure to pornography, anxiety, family problems, or a history of abuse or neglect. While they need regular supervision and accountability, juvenile sex offenders are often very amenable to treatment. The rate of recidivism, that is, the frequency that these individuals re-offend after successfully completing treatment, is around 7%. This is significantly lower than the recidivism rates for adult offenders.

In contrast, adult sex offenders are less amenable to treatment and require much longer treatment, due to years or decades of ingrained patterns of behavior. They often lack the social supports to provide supervision, and therefore are held responsible for keeping themselves accountable. Some of the motivating factors that lead to adults  acting out sexually against children are often a combination of low self-esteem, a history of abuse or neglect, sexual addiction, isolation, lack of social skills, stress, disability, or alcohol or drug use. The recidivism rates for adult offenders range between 20% and 60%, depending on the specific population researched and the time period studied.

A pedophile is an individual who has a sexual attraction to children instead of adults. They may or may not act on this attraction, but they are characterized by an interest in developing sexual relationships with prepubescent children. True pedophiles, who fit this description, make up a very small percentage of all adults who act out sexually – estimates are typically under 3% to 5%. It is even rarer to find an adolescent who falls into this category.

Before joining the staff at ABC Counseling, I never imagined myself working with juvenile sex offenders. Like many in the general public, I assumed it would be uncomfortable, or that they would be threatening or dangerous to work with. As I have discovered, working with youth who have sexual behavior problems is incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. They are great kids who come from difficult backgrounds. They usually have very low self-esteem, lack education about sex and sexuality, and need help improving their social skills. Most come from separated or divorced families, or are being raised by single parents. The vast majority know they have done something wrong, feel badly about it, and want to avoid doing it again. They can also be funny, creative, intelligent, friendly, helpful, and loyal to their friends and family. They play basketball, collect Magic cards, and love video games; they watch TV and go to movies; they cheer on their favorite sports teams and do their chores (most of the time – they’re still teenagers!). Some of them have been abused themselves, and never got help or dealt with the trauma. They all need help, and the benefits of counseling are far-reaching and long-lasting.

 There are many, many misconceptions about youth with sexual behavior problems. These misconceptions contribute to a failure to communicate or support families who are dealing with these issues. I hope this brief commentary has helped you understand a little bit more about the kids that we work with. In addition, like many other families in Central Illinois, the families who have a child who has acted out sexually sometimes cannot afford the services that child desperately needs. If you would like to help a child receive counseling who cannot afford it, please contact us at (309) 451-9495 and ask about the Ed Willard Scholarship Fund, or make a donation here.

 By: Melissa Box, LCSW, Sexual Abuse Therapist

Violent Video Games

Lots of kids play video game. What’s wrong with that?  Well there could be some problems if the video games are excessively aggressive or violent.  Here are some myths and facts every parent should know before allowing free range to different video games.