Psychopathy traits and parental dysfunction in sexual offending and general delinquent adolescent males

Jason D. Netland, Michael H. Miner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The failure to account for differences between adolescent males who offend against children and those who offend against peers may account for the similarities found between sexoffending samples and non-sexual delinquents. Psychopathy traits (grandiosity, impulsivity, lack of empathy, interpersonally exploitative and risk-taking) and antisocial behaviour, including behaviours and age of onset for delinquent behaviours and drug use, were explored in male adolescents with sex offences against children, sex offences against peer/adults, sexual offences against both and non-sex delinquents. Youths who committed sexual offences were similar on psychopathic traits and level of antisocial behaviour. Higher levels of grandiosity and lack of empathy were found in those whose offences were non-sexual. Parental dysfunction was consistent across all groups, but maternal psychiatric difficulties were more frequent in youths with histories of sexual offending and a history of maternal substance abuse was more common for cross-over sexual offenders. These data indicate that most psychopathy traits and antisocial behaviour are similar in all sexual offenders, while maternal dysfunction and narcissistic traits distinguish them from non-sex delinquents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-22
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Sexual Aggression
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr Netland is currently at the Hazelden Foundation in St Paul, Minnesota. This paper is based on the doctoral dissertation submitted by Jason Netland PhD in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD in Counseling Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota. The author would like to thank the Roots of Sexual Abuse research team, including James Heacock, Charles Helm, Rae Hoesing, Angela Lewis-Dmello, Morgan Paldron and Rebecca Swinburne Romine, who collected data, and would also like to thank Raymond Knight and Judy Sims-Knight, who programmed the computerised questionnaire and processed those data. This research was supported by two grants to Michael Miner PhD; 2001-JR-BX-0003 from the US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and 1 R49 CE000265 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  • Sex-offender
  • adolescent
  • delinquent
  • parental dysfunction
  • psychopathy


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