the slideshow here

Once fallen presents…
Myths Are Deeply
Ingrained In Our Brains
 Myth: A popular belief or tradition that has grown
up around something or someone; especially : one
embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or
segment of society
 "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and
 Not all myths are pure fiction; some are
misrepresentations of facts, facts taken out of
context, or exaggerations of facts
Myths Are Deeply
Ingrained In Our Brains
 Dan Gunderson, “A Better Approach to Sex Offender
Policy.” Minnesota Public Radio, June 18th, 2007
1. “Misinformation and a lack of information often shapes sex
offender policy…Most of the legislators in [a study by Lisa
Sample of U. of Nebraska- Omaha] said their primary
source of information was the news media.”
2. In most cases, lawmakers didn’t read studies/ reports
relevant to legislation they supported.
3. Sample: Most sex offender legislation follows the abduction
and murder of a child, and the resulting public outrage
4. In Minnesota, a panel of experts recently completed a
comprehensive report to serve as a guide for sex offender
policy in the state. One of the report’s authors says the
biggest challenge is just getting lawmakers to read it.
 Bottom Line: It is our job to educate the people
Myths Are Deeply
Ingrained In Our Brains
 Common logical fallacies:
1. Ad hominem: Personal attacks, “Only pedos reject SO laws.”
2. Appeals to emotion: What ifs, “What if it was your child raped/
murdered, If it saves just one child.”
3. Ad ignorantiam: You can’t prove OR disprove myth, “Sex
offenses are notoriously underreported.”
4. Appeal to authority: “The NCMEC/ Oprah states that….”
5. Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc: A preceded B, therefore A caused
B; questionable cause; “Sex crime rates dropped in the 90s,
therefore the registry works.”
6. Red herring: Misleading/detracting from the issue, “Vote for the
Senate Farm Bill, or you give food stamps to pedophiles, and
pedophilia harms children.”
Myths Are Deeply
Ingrained In Our Brains
 Common logic fallacies Continued…
7. Cherry picking: Placing a narrow focus on one supporting
area in a study while neglecting other parts of a study.
8. The Moving Goalpost: Moving the standard of proof or
setting impossible boundaries, “Even 1% recidivism is too
9. Straw Man: Ignoring a person's actual position and
substituting a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented
version of that position, “You say reoffending is low. I
disagree entirely. Reoffending is high because pedophiles
are clever and most go undetected!"
Myths Are Deeply
Ingrained In Our Brains
 Common logic fallacies Continued…
10. “Twististics:” Intentionally showing a stat in the most
misleading way possible, a “false light;” “Sex
offender reoffending is low BUT they are four times
as likely to reoffend than non-sex offenders.”
11. “Data Soup:” Throwing a bunch of loosely related
stats together, implying a great danger in high
numbers (Sex is the #1 search term online, porn is a
$20 BILLION a year industry, the average SO
commits 117 sex crimes, etc.)
Part II:
The “Dirty Dozen” S.O. Myths
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 “The risk or recidivism posed by sex
offenders is ‘frightening and high.’”
(Smith v. Doe, 538 US at 103)
 SCOTUS relied on the Prentky study
as well as part of the US Dept. of
Justice study as “proof” of high
recidivism rates.
 The bad news: SCOTUS, for now,
declares high recidivism rates a
“settled” or established fact. They are
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 Understanding recidivism: Recidivism means the
rate at which a person previously convicted of a
crime commits another crime.
 Recidivism studies use varying standards for
measuring recidivism—re-conviction rates, re-arrest
rates, informal reports to child agencies, selfreporting, violations of conditional release, or simply
being questioned by police. The broader the
definition, the higher the number.
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
Recidivism (sometimes called General/
Baseline Recidivism) means person commits
a offense of any type, include parole
violations, traffic violations, other crime
Re-offense (sometimes called Specific/
Sexual Recidivism) means the sex offense
committed a new sex offense. Some studies
include “Failure To Register” as a sex crime.
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 US Department of Justice, “Recidivism of Sex
Offenders Released into the Community in 1994.”
 Three-year follow-up period of 9,641 SOs released in
15 states in 1994
 517 sex offenders (5.3% of all sex offenders) were
arrested for a sex crime within 3 years, 3.5% were
 Nearly 1/3 of those arrested were not convicted
(Falsely accused? Not enough evidence?)
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
Advocates For Change Recidivism Handout
(from 2012 RSOL Conference)
“A composite of 27 studies from 24 states and
countries involving 69,307 sex offenders
released from prison and followed for an
average of 4.2 years show 3.68% were
convicted for a new sex offense.”
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 Factors affecting recidivism rates:
 #1: The longer someone is out, the less likely that
person will reoffend: 5 year recidivism rate for
offenders who have been out of prison five years was
7%; among offenders out 10 years, 5%; and among
offenders out 15 years, 4%.
 [Harris, A. J. R., Hanson, R. K. (2004) “Sex Offender
Recidivism: A Simple Question.”]
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 Factors affecting recidivism rates:
 #2: Of those who do reoffend, about 2/3 do so within
three years of release -- Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction, “Ten Year Recidivism
Follow-up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases.”
 This is why short term studies are sufficient for
determining recidivism and re-offense rates
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 Factors affecting recidivism rates:
 #3: Sex Crime recidivism among Sex Offender sub-groups:
From the Harris and Hanson study 2004 study (in parentheses,
recidivism rates after 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years):
Extended Incest Child Molesters (6%, 9%, 13%)
“Girl Victim” Child Molesters (9%, 13%, 16%)
Rapists (14%, 21%, 24%)
“Boy Victim” Child Molesters (23%, 28%, 35%)
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 Factors affecting recidivism rates:
 #4: One time offenders (10%, 15%, 19%) recidivated
at a lower rate than those who had two or more prior
convictions (25%, 32%, 37%) -- Harris and Hanson
 Note: All totals from Harris and Hanson study are
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 Understanding perspective: “Cumulative” totals can easily lead
to misuse
 Cumulative totals break the law of gravity: What goes up
keeps going up, never down
 Harris and Hanson study gives a TOTAL re-offense rate
in 5 year increments (14%, 20%, 24%)
 People will ASSUME 14% PLUS 20% PLUS 24%; thus,
assume the longer one
 The truth: In the first five years, overall re-offense rates
were 14%, but between years 5-10, 6% reoffended, and
between 10-15 years, only 5% reoffended
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 The “Prentky Study” [Prentky, R., Lee, A., Knight,
R., & Cerce, D. (1997). “Recidivism rates among child
molesters and rapists: A methodological analysis.”]
claims a 52% recidivism rate.
 Problems with the study: The sample consisted of
those released from civil commitment centers with
multiple offenses, the author has declared the sample
is not representative of all SOs, the 52% rate is an
estimate rather than the actual rate of recidivism
Myth #1: High Recidivism Rates
 “Lifetime Sex Offender Recidivism: A 25 year
Follow-Up Study,” by Ron Langevin claims a 90%94% re-offense rate.
 This study has been universally rejected by the
experts because the researchers intentionally
removed non-recidivists from the study once they
remained offense-free for 15 years. “Nearly 100% of
reoffenders reoffend.”
Myth #2: Sex offenders are
“four times more likely to reoffend”
 “When convicted sex offenders
reenter society, they are much more
likely than any other type of offender
to be rearrested for a new rape or
sexual assault”
 McKune v. Lile, 536 U.S. 24, 34 (2002)
[citing U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of
Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and
Offenders 27 (1997); U.S. Dept. of
Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Recidivism of Prisoners Released in
1983, p. 6 (1997)]
Myth #2: Sex offenders are
“four times more likely to reoffend”
 US Department of Justice, “Recidivism of Sex Offenders
Released into the Community in 1994.”
 9,641 SOs released, 262,420 non-SOs released in same 15
states in 1994
 517 sex offenders (5.3%) were arrested for a sex crime
within 3 years
 3,228 non-sex offenders (1.3%) were arrested for a sex
crime in same 3 years
 Six times as many sex crimes were committed by nonRSOs released from prison as RSOs in the same period
Myth #2: Sex offenders are
“four times more likely to reoffend”
 All offenders tend to specialize, but re-offense rates
for registrants are lower than other crimes
 Michigan Parole Board, Recidivism Stats 1990-2000
 Follow-up Period: 4 years
Recidivism Rates
 Sex Offenders
 Burglary
 Drugs
 Robbery
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
 “…the FBI (in the 1950s)
epitomized this attitude. It showed
a man, with his hat pulled down,
lurking behind a tree with a bag of
candy in his hands. He was
waiting for the sweet little girl
walking home from school alone.”
 (Kenneth V. Lanning, “Child
Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis,”
National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children, 2001, p. 13)
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
 NISMART-2 [National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted,
Runaway, and Thrownaway Children] of 797500 Missing
children reports in 2002:
357,600 runaway/ throwaway
340,500 benign reasons
61,900 Missing involuntarily/ lost/ injured
56,500 Family Abduction
12,100 Non-family Abduction
115 “stereotypical kidnappings,” of those 45 permanently
missing/ dead
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
 In 2002, there were 73.1
Million kids under 18 in
the US, 45 killed/
permanently missing, or
1 in 1,624,444
 American Academy of
Pediatrics stated in 2010
that 77 kids a year die
from choking to death on
a hot dog.
 Should we register Oscar
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
Only 6.7% of victims under 18 and 34.4% of victims over 18 were victimized by strangers
Source: BJS Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
Fact: The younger the age, the less likely a stranger is involved.
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
Fact: Most juvenile sex crimes are committed by other juveniles
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
“95.9% of rape arrests and 94.1% of child molestation arrests were of first time offenders.”
Source: Sandler, Freeman, & Socia, “Does a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of
New York State’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law.
Myth #3: Stranger Danger
 Most sex crimes are committed in the home
 (Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D., "Sexual Assault of Young
Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim,
Incident, and Offender Characteristics." National
Center for Juvenile Justice, July 2000): "Most (70%) of
the sexual assaults reported to law enforcement
occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender,
or the residence of another individual."
Myth #4: All Sex Offenders are
“Pedophiles” or “Predators”
“Sex Offender” and “Pedophile” are often used interchangeably
Myth #4: All Sex Offenders are
“Pedophiles” or “Predators”
 “Pedophile” is a clinical term
 Sex Offender is a legal term
 You cannot be convicted of “pedophilia” but you can be
convicted of a sex offense. There is no such thing as a
“convicted pedophile.”
 You can be a pedophile without committing a offense. You can
commit a sex offense and not be a pedophile.
 There are a myriad of derogatory terms: Predator, pervert, sex
beast, sex fiend, monster, kid toucher, baby-raper, chicken
hawk, kid fucker, Sexually Violent Predator (SVP), even
Myth #4: All Sex Offenders are
“Pedophiles” or “Predators”
 Only a small portion of convicted sex offenders
against minors are actually preferentially attracted to
children. In spite of this fact, studies typically use the
word “pedophile” interchangeably with terms such
as “child molester,” “sex offender,” “abuser,” and
“rapist.” – Source: Okami, P. & Goldberg, A.,
“Personality Correlates of Pedophilia: Are They
Reliable Indicators?”, Journal of Sex Research, Vol.
29, No. 3, 1992, pp. 297-328.
Myth #4: All Sex Offenders are
“Pedophiles” or “Predators”
 Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia
 Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense
sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors
involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or
children (generally age 13 years or younger).
 [And:] The person has acted on these sexual urges, or the
sexual urges or fantasies caused marked distress or
interpersonal difficulty.
 [And:] The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5
years older than the child or children in Criterion A.
 Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence
involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or
Myth #4: All Sex Offenders are
“Pedophiles” or “Predators”
 Situational/ Opportunistic/ Regressed Offenders:
Not attracted exclusively to children, more amenable
to treatment, more capable of feeling remorse, less
likely to have multiple victims, mostly within family
or close circle of friends, often motivated by reasons
other than sex, triggered by stressors (more
 Fixated/
attracted to children, premeditated behaviors, more
likely to abuse multiple victims, less amenable to
treatment (very uncommon)
Myth #4: All Sex Offenders are
“Pedophiles” or “Predators”
 Only 4% of sexual
offenders in Montana
prisons are classified
as “Pedophiles”
 Facts, Figures and
Estimates Regarding
Treatment for
Incarcerated Sex
Offenders in
Myth #5: Sex offenders
cannot be cured
 “There seems virtually
evidence predators can actually
be ‘cured.’ Discussions about this
sound like alcoholism in that you
can never be cured but the key is
to control the urge.” – Anderson
Cooper, “Can sexual predators
ever be cured?” (2007)
 Assumption #1: All sex offenders
have an “incurable illness.”
 Assumption #2: All sex offenders
pose an equal and high risk (they
are “homogeneous”)
Myth #5: Sex offenders
cannot be cured
 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction,
“Ten Year Recidivism Follow-up of 1989 Sex
Offender Releases.”
 7.1% of sex offenders who went through
treatment recidivated
 16.5% of sex offenders who did not undergo
treatment recidivated
 16.5 divided by 7.1= a 65% decrease
Myth #5: Sex offenders
cannot be cured
 “Sexual recidivism by COSA Core Members is 70%
lower than that of the matched comparison sample,
and is less than one-quarter of the actuarial sexual
recidivism rates projected by the Hanson and
Thornton STATIC-99 survival curves - a statistically
significant result.” -- Robin J. Wilson, Janice E.
Picheca & Michelle Prinzo. "Circles of Support &
Accountability: An Evaluation of the Pilot Project in
South Central Ontario." Correctional Service of
Canada, May 2005
Myth #5: Sex offenders
cannot be cured
 Facts, Figures and Estimates Regarding Treatment for
Incarcerated Sex Offenders in Montana (01/06/2011):
 Recidivism (returning to prison for any violations)
 25% of treatment complete inmates return to prison
 49% of treatment non-complete inmates return to prison
 Re-offending (returning to prison for a new sexual offense)
 2% of treatment complete inmates re-offend
 20% of treatment non-complete inmates re-offend
Myth #5: Sex offenders
cannot be cured
 We use the term “treatment” rather than “cure” –
most people are amenable to “treatment.”
 Not all treatment programs are equal– programs that
shame the offender/ negative actions/ techniques
that are based on distrust and shame (such as use of
the polygraph and plethysmographs) are examples
of bad programs
 Some good programs: Stop It Now! Circles of
Support and Accountability, Faith Based Initiatives
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 “The average serial child
molester has between 360-380
victims in his lifetime… The
treatment, go on to commit 380
sex crimes during his lifetime.”
 (From Laura Ahearn’s “Parents
For Megan’s Law” Statistics
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 Gene Abel "Self-Reported Sex Crimes of NonIncarcerated Paraphiliacs" (1986)
 There are a number of problems with the study-- few
offenders were voluntary (which would compel false
admissions), inclusion of non-criminal paraphilias
such as consensual homosexual relations, and Abel
lists an estimated number of acts and victims over a
lifetime. Abel states the study suggested
paraphiliacs, “through coercion or varying degrees
of compliance, repeated acts are carried out with the
same victims or partners”
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
Abel Study: Means (average) versus medians (halfway number)
At least half of the study’s participants have less than 5% of the
“average number of victims”
Male Victims, # of acts
Mean -- 281.7
Median -- 10.1
Female Victims, # of acts
Mean -- 23.2
Median -- 1.4
Male Victims, # of Victims
Mean -- 150.2
Median -- 4.4
Female Victims, # of victims
Mean -- 19.8
Median -- 1.3
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 “The typical offender is male, begins molesting by
age 15, engages in a variety of deviant behavior, and
molests an average of 117 youngsters, most of
whom do not report the offense.” – Attributed to
Gene Abel (1985) “The Evaluation of Child
Molesters: Final Report to the Center on Antisocial
and Violent Behavior.” Rockville, MD: National
Institute of Mental Health.
 No one has a copy of the original study! But…
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 “The Stop Child Molestation Book: What Ordinary
People Can Do In Their Everyday Lives To Save 3
Million Children” by Nora Harlow and Gene G. Abel
 “On average, a pedophile molests 11.7 children
compared to a non-pedophile molester, who molests,
on average, 2.9 children.”
 “On average, a molester with pedophilia commits
70.8 molestation acts. On average, a molester without
pedophilia commits 6.5 acts.”
 Moving decimal point?
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 “The Impact of Polygraphy on Admissions of Victims and
Offenses in Adult Sexual Offenders” by Sean Ahlmeyer,
Peggy Heil, Bonita McKee, and Kim English (2000)
 Also relies on self-reporting and includes non-criminal
paraphilias but adds POLYGRAPHS. “Comparatively,
conclusions cannot be made on the frequency of sexual
offending for inmates and parolees, because of the unique
external confounds present for each setting.” The end
result was the belief that polygraphs influenced more selfreporting because the inmates believed they worked.
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 Kokish, Levenson, and Blasingame. “Post-conviction Sex
Offender Polygraph Examination: Client-Reported
Perceptions of Utility and Accuracy” (2005)
 Researchers found that participants reported a relatively
low incidence of false indications of both deception (22 of
333 tests) and truthfulness (11 of 333) tests, suggesting
that clients agreed with examiners’ opinions 90% of the
time. About 5% of participants reported that they
responded to allegedly inaccurate accusations of
deception by admitting to things they had not done. In
other words, the interpretation of the test relies solely on
what the researcher believes in the hearing.
Myth #6: Sex Offenders have
hundreds of victims
 No
validated these outlandish
 If
Offenders had 100 to 300
victims like the myth claims,
there would be around a 70
to 280 million victims. The
USA only has 300 million
individuals and around 70
million minors
Myth #7: The Underreporting Myth
“The majority of sexual assault are
not reported to the police (an
average of 54% of assaults in the
last five years were not reported).
Those rapists, of course, will never
spend a day in prison. But even
when the crime is reported, it is
unlike to lead to an arrest and
unreported rapes, only about 3% of
rapists will ever serve a day in
[Source: The R.A.I.N.N. website’s
“Statistics” page]
Myth #7: The Underreporting Myth
 Since under-reporting is an "unknown" factor, many
victim advocates claim astronomical numbers, such as
"90%+" in claiming how many sex crime cases go
 The current largest and best measure of under-reporting
comes from the National Crime Victimization Surveys
(NCVS). The NCVS is a “self-report study” that includes
“attempted” as well as “completed” acts, including
“verbal threats.” The study relies on the survey taker, not
a trained law enforcement official, to determine whether
an act is an “unreported crime.”
Myth #7: The Underreporting Myth
 The unreported numbers have been steadily declining over
the years:
 2003 NCVS: 67.3% of rapes and attempted rapes (attempts
included verbal threats of sexual violence) and 53.2% of
sexual assaults go unreported
 Between 2003-2005, sex assaults/ rapes were consolidated
 2005 NCVS: 61.7% of rapes/ sexual assaults go unreported
 2010 NCVS: 50% of rapes/ sexual assaults go unreported
Myth #7: The Underreporting Myth
 The NCVS understands it has limitations: “The estimates of
rape/sexual assault are based on a small number of cases reported to
the survey. Therefore, small absolute changes and fluctuations in the
rates of victimization can result in large year-to-year percentage
change estimates. For 2010, the estimate of rape or sexual assault is
based on 57 unweighted cases compared to 36 unweighted cases in
2009." That is 57 "unreported cases" out of sample size of nearly 71000
people: In 2010, 40974 households and 73283 individuals age 12 and
older were interviewed for the NCVS. Each household was
interviewed twice during the year. The response rate was 92.3% of
households and 87.5% of eligible individuals." Still, the survey
strongly suggests the amount of under-reporting may be overreported. (2010 NCVS summary)
Myth #7: The Underreporting Myth
 So WHY do people fail to report sex crimes?
 Citing a Besserer and Trainor (2000) study, which
used “a very broad definition of sexual assault,”
including all unwanted forms of sexual touching and
threats, and possibly “behaviors not conforming to
the popular image of a sexual offense,” Hanson and
Harris point out 59% of the respondents of this study
stated the reason for not reporting was they felt the
“incident was not important enough” to report.
“Consequently, readers may wonder what counts as
a sexual assault.” (Harris & Hanson 2004, p. 1-2)
Myth #7: The Underreporting Myth
 From the NCVS 2005:
 Non-reporting when a stranger is involved: Reported to
another official (49.6%), Police don’t want to be bothered
(19.9%), Offender unsuccessful (12.7%), Fear of reprisal
(11%), and Police inefficient, ineffective, or biased (6.9%).
 Top reasons for non-reporting when a non-stranger is
involved: Other Reasons (47%), Private or personal matter
(31.1%), Police don’t want to be bothered (10.8%), Report
to another official (5.1%), Police ineffective, inefficient,
biased (2.8%), and Too incontinent, time consuming
Myth #8: 100,000 Missing
Sex Offenders
 "Today, nearly one out of every five paroled sex
offenders (100,000 in all) has gone missing. They've
evaded state laws, exploited loopholes and
disappeared, free to use their newfound anonymity
to prey on new victims. This new law will help put
an end to that freedom.” Scott Berkowitz, President
 NOTE: This “100,000 missing RSOs” number has
remained the same since the myth was created in
Myth #8: 100,000 Missing
Sex Offenders
 Source of the myth was a 2002 Parents for
Megan's Law survey in which only 32 states
participated and very few states kept accurate
records, giving only rough estimates of noncompliance. PFML concluded 24%, or about a
fourth, of registrants were unaccounted for. (In
2002 there were roughly 400,000 registrants).
PFML has never released the study for peer
 eAdvocate, “The Saga of 100,000 Missing Sex Offenders:
Now the truth.” Sex Offender Reports, Charts, and Other
Myth #8: 100,000 Missing
Sex Offenders
 “The number is 100,000. Depending on the account,
it has been used to represent the number of sex
offenders in the United States who are ‘missing,’
‘noncompliant,’ ‘fugitive,’ ‘evading authorities,’ or
‘absconded.’” – Source: Jill S. Levenson and Andrew
J. Harris. “100,000 Sex Offenders Missing . . . or Are
They? Deconstruction of an Urban Legend.”
Criminal Justice Policy Review, 2011.
Myth #8: 100,000 Missing
Sex Offenders
Ackerman, A. R., Harris,
A. J., Levenson, J. S., &
Zgoba, K. (2011). “Who
are the people in your
descriptive analysis of
individuals on public sex
International Journal of
Psychiatry and Law
Total Registrants: 445,127
Absconded: 5,349
Missing:” 1,264
FTRs: 4,152
Total Lost: 10,765 (2.4%)
Homeless: 6,923
Myth #8: 100,000 Missing
Sex Offenders
 Zgoba KM, Levenson J. (June 2012) “Failure to register as
a predictor of sex offense recidivism: the big bad wolf or a
red herring?” Sex Abuse, 24(4):328-49
 “Failure to register was not a significant predictor of
sexual recidivism, casting doubt on the belief that sex
offenders who are noncompliant with registration are
especially sexually dangerous. Few differences between
groups were detected, but FTR offenders were more
likely to have sexually assaulted a stranger and to have
adult female victims, further challenging the stereotype of
the child predator who absconds to evade detection.”
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 The 50,000 Internet predator myth is attributed to controversial
Chris Hansen and "To Catch a Predator;" Hansen admits he
conjured the number out of thin air (Benjamin Radford.
“Predator Panic: A Closer Look.” Skeptical Enquirer, 9/2006)
So the myth was debunked… or was it?
 “Federal authorities believe that at least 500,000 to 750,000
predators are “on-line” on a daily basis, constantly combing
through these blog sites, crawling around in Internet chat
rooms and on-line dating services, pretending to be someone
and something they’re not.” Clint Van Zant, MSNBC analyst &
former FBI profile, in 2006, and cited on Dateline NBC’s “To
Catch a Predator”
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 “FBI Profiler Kenneth Lanning calls 50,000 the "Goldilocks number," meaning the number
doesn't sound like too much or not enough. The number 50,000 has been applied for many
unknown numbers --Korean War casualties, deaths and annual deaths from second hand
smoke, number of children allegedly sacrificed to Satan during the satanic cult scares of the
1980s” (Brooke Gladstone, “On the Media: Prime Number.” NPR/ WNYC radio, May 26, 2006)
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 Actual online child exploitation
crimes 2006 [Source: Janis Wolak,
David Finkelhor & Kimberly J.
Mitchell (2009) “Law Enforcement
Responses to Online Child Sexual
Exploitation Crimes: The National
Study, 2000 & 2006.” Crimes
Against Children Resource Center]
 615 arrests for online predation
 3,100 arrests for solicitations to
undercover investigators posing
online as minors
 For every “online predation” arrest.
Six more were by undercover cops
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 “1 of 5 children who use a computer chat room has
been approached by a pedophile (child molester)” –
Judy Cornett, Safe Zone Advocacy
 “30% of young people consider an online encounter
while 14% have already met in person with someone
they met online.” – from “Slavery No More”
 "Things are not always what they seem. For example,
sexual predators lie about their age and are ‘always
older’ than they admit.” – Pamela Bennett, FL Child
Predator CyberCrime Unit, 2007
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 “1 in 5” stat: came from Youth Internet Safety Survey
 19% received a broad term "sexual solicitation," which
included anything from sexual spam to someone asking if
a person “got lucky” on a date
 Only one in 33 experienced an "aggressive sexual
solicitation," or a request to contact offline
 24% came from adults, 48% came from other juveniles,
and 24% from unknown people
 One cannot assume all solicitations came from "online
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 Cox Communications/ NCMEC Teen Internet Safety
Survey (2006)
 Sample size: 1,100 teens age 13-17
 14% have actually met face-to-face with a person they
had known only through the Internet (9% of 13- to 15year-olds and 22% of 16- to 17-year-olds). The survey
never discusses who they meet or for what purposes
 Subsequent studies from COX and the YISS have
found these numbers have been reduced, but many
sites don’t quote the newer results
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 “Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor, Kimberly J. Mitchell, and
Michele L. Ybarra. "Online 'Predators' and their victims."
American Psychologist, Vol. 63 No. 2 February-March 2008
 Internet offenders pretended to be teenagers only 5% of the
 Online SOs are seldom violent, and cases involving stalking or
abduction are very rare.
 Youth who engaged in 4+ risky online behaviors were much
more likely to report receiving online sexual solicitations.
Online risky behaviors included maintaining buddy lists that
included strangers, discussing sex online with people they did
not know in person and being rude or nasty online.
Myth #9:
"Internet Predators"
 "The publicity about online 'predators' who prey on naive
children using trickery and violence is largely inaccurate.
Internet sex crimes involving adults and juveniles more
often fit a model of statutory rape—adult offenders who
meet, develop relationships with, and openly seduce
underage teenagers—than a model of forcible sexual
assault or pedophilic child molesting. This is a serious
problem, but one that requires approaches different from
those in current prevention messages emphasizing
parental control and the dangers of divulging personal
information" (Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor, Kimberly J.
Mitchell, and Michele L. Ybarra. "Online 'Predators' and
their victims." American Psychologist, Vol. 63 No. 2
February-March 2008)
Myth #10: Tough on crime
"Increasing penalties against those who prey on these
vulnerable children will deter criminals from committing
such crimes.“ – NY State Sen. Joe Robach, Apr. 1, 2013
Myth #10: Tough on crime
 Source: DOES
Analysis of
New York
State’s Sex
Law.” Jeffrey
C. Sandler,
Naomi J.
Freeman, and
Kelly M.
Socia (2008)
Myth #10: Tough on crime
 FACT: Sex offender laws have no positive impact on
crime, but the effects of the law can increase crime:
 REGISTRATION: “…Results of the analyses indicate
that the 1996 enactment of SORA (and thus the
beginning of the registry) had no significant impact
on rates of total sexual offending, rape, or child
molestation, whether viewed as a whole or in terms
of offenses committed by first-time sex offenders or
those committed by previously convicted sex
offenders (i.e., repeat offenders).” – Sandler et al.
“Does a Watched Pot Boil”
Myth #10: Tough on crime
enforcing 2000 foot residency restrictions. In the year
following enactment:
 The number of sex crime arrests increased by 15, and
convictions increased by 12 (the second year, arrests
increased by 167 and convictions increased by 45)
 Failure to Register cases increased by 184
 137 charges for violating residency restrictions
 700 of Iowa’s 6000 registrants fled the state or the US or
simply stopped registering.
 Iowa scaled back restrictions for most registrants in 2009
 See for
full references
Myth #10: Tough on crime
 “Results showed that those offenders classified as Tier 1
(lowest risk) were rearrested for both sexual and nonsexual
offenses more quickly than both Tier 2 (moderate risk) and Tier
3 (highest risk) offenders and were rearrested for sexual
offenses at a higher rate than Tiers 2 and 3 offenders.”
Freeman, N. J., & Sandler, J. C. (2010). The Adam Walsh Act: A
False Sense of Security or an Effective Public Policy Initiative?
Criminal Justice Policy Review, 21(1), 31-49.
 “…AWA tiers did a poor job of identifying high-risk offenders,
and thus may not meaningfully guide sex offender
management practices.” [Zgoba, Milner, Raymond Knight,
Elizabeth Letourneau, Jill Levenson, and David Thornton. 2012.
“A Multi-State Recidivism Study Using Static-99R and Static
2002 Risk Scores and Tier Guidelines from the Adam Walsh
Act.” Research Report Submitted to the National Institute of
Myth #10: Tough on crime
 FACT: Sex offender laws promote social ostracism and
vigilante violence
 As former offenders are denied opportunities to
reintegrate into society and stigmatized, they lose hope.
Stigmatized offenders are more likely to recidivate than
reintegrated offenders, as the resistance to recidivate
diminishes among offenders who are ostracized. On the
other hand, a ‘pro-social identity,’ including concrete
recognition of their reform, is integral to reducing
recidivism (Hollida Wakefield, “The Vilification of Sex
Offenders: Do Laws Targeting Sex Offenders Increase
Recidivism and Sexual Violence?” Journal of Sex Offender
Civil Commitment: Science and the Law, 2006, p. 141-149)
Myth #10: Tough on crime
 Psychologist John Q. LaFond points out a
Washington state study that found notification laws
do not prevent crime; instead, it leads to quicker
arrest times, either by the constant scrutiny, or by
disrupting employment, housing, and support for
the sex offender, causing stress and increasing the
likelihood of recidivism (LaFond, "Preventing Sexual
Violence." APA 2005)
Myth #10: Tough on crime
 “Employment problems experienced by the RSO, and subsequent
financial hardships, emerged as the most pressing issue identified
by family members. The likelihood of housing disruption was
correlated with residential restriction laws; larger buffer distances
led to increased frequencies of housing crisis. Family members
living with an RSO were more likely to experience threats and
harassment by neighbors. Children of RSOs reportedly experienced
adverse consequences including stigmatization and differential
treatment by teachers and classmates. More than half had
experienced ridicule, teasing, depression, anxiety, fear, or anger.
Unintended consequences can impact family members’ ability to
support RSOs in their efforts to avoid recidivism and successfully
reintegrate.” -- Levenson, J. S., & Tewksbury, R. (2009). Collateral
damage: Family members of registered sex offenders. American
Journal of Criminal Justice.
Myth #11: The
“slap on the wrist”
“The amount of
actual jail time a
sex offender serves
is short. VERY
evidence seemed
to reveal that sex
people who were
stealing or drug
From the ‘Instant
Checkmate” Blog
check service site)
Myth #11: The
“slap on the wrist”
Child Porn Convictions lead all major offenses in federal sentencing
(Source: US Sentencing Commission)
Myth #11: The
“slap on the wrist”
 Florida Department of Corrections, Bureau of
Research and Data Analysis: Sentence length for
Murder: 23.5 years
Sex crimes: 11.9 years
Robbery: 8.2 years
Other violent crime: 4.3 years
Drugs: 3.0 years
 Washington State “Sex Offender Sentencing” 2004: In
fiscal year 2003, the average sentence length for all
felonies was 37.3 months, compared to 90.8 months
for sex offenses.
Myth #12: Megan’s Law
“Raises Awareness”
 "The purpose of the law was
to provide an awareness to
parents. It was put there for
parents to know where the
offenders are living. Five
million people have gone to
the state web site. It's doing
what it was supposed to do.
We never said it was going
reoffending or wandering to
another town.” Maureen
in a telephone
interview with The StarLedger.
Myth #12: Megan’s Law
“Raises Awareness”
 2005 Gallup Poll (of 1,006 people) taken just after the Jessica
Lunsford tragedy hit the media found only 38% of individuals
were even aware their state even maintains a registry. Even
though 94% of those polled favored registries, only 23% have
ever checked the registry, while 34% stated concerns over
harassment and vigilantism as a result of the registry [Lydia
Saad, “Sex Offender Registries are Underutilized by the
Public.” Gallup, June 9, 2005]
Myth #12: Megan’s Law
“Raises Awareness”
 When the state of Florida proposed cutting e-mail
notification alerts in 2008 due to budget cuts, it was
noted only 44,000 of the state’s 16 million residents
(or 0.275%) signed up for the program , or roughly
one signee per registrant -- Whitney Ray, “Amber
Alerts and Sexual Offender Registry May Be Cut by
FDLE.” WJHG 7, Nov. 13, 2008,
tml, Retrieved Feb. 10, 2009
Myth #12: Megan’s Law
“Raises Awareness”
 “Familiarity with and Uses of Sex Offender Registries”
Nicole Wilkes & Leana A. Bouffard (2013)
 (73.6%) were familiar with sex offender registries, 7% were
unsure of their familiarity, 19.6% unfamiliar with registry
 Among those familiar with the registry, 40.9% had accessed
it for themselves, 17.8% had accessed it for someone else,
and 30.2% had not accessed it
 Reasons for accessing the registry: 40% of respondents
accessed it because they were curious, 18% because they
were worried for their safety and about 12% because they
were concerned about young children’s safety.
 Ways people discovered the registry: Word of mouth
(35.9%), internet search (22.4%), and television (13.2%).
Myth #12: Megan’s Law
“Raises Awareness”
 “Familiarity with and Uses of Sex Offender Registries”
Nicole Wilkes & Leana A. Bouffard (2013) cont’d…
 The most common reason respondents gave was not
knowing what to do with the information/believing there
was nothing they could do (11.7%), and the least common
response was not being interested (4%).
 Of those who looked at the registry, 18.8% accessed it once,
24.6% twice, and 38.1% had used it three to five times
 When respondents were asked about their reasons for
accessing the registry, nearly 40% of respondents accessed it
because they were curious, 18% because they were worried
for their safety and about 12% because they were concerned
about young children’s safety.
Other Myths
 Myth: “Halloween is a pedophile’s holiday
(implying children are more at risk on Halloween)
 Truth: There is no “Halloween effect” (increase in
sex crimes around Halloween) and laws forcing
Registrants to be on lockdown for Halloween has no
impact on sex crime rates
 Source: Mark Chaffin, Jill Levenson, Elizabeth
Letourneau and Paul Stern. "How safe are trick-ortreaters? An analysis on sex crime rates on
Halloween." Sex Abuse 2009; 21; 363
Other Myths
 The Child Trafficking Myth: “It's between 100,000 and 300,000
child sex slaves in the United States today,” Ashton Kutcher
 Source: End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and the
Trafficking of Children for Sexual Exploitation (ECPAT). 1996.
Europe and North America Regional Profile (issued by the World
Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,
held in Stockholm, Sweden, August 1996, p.70.)
 Fact: These numbers are “estimates” of individuals “at risk”
youth. Actual risks for sex trafficking are far lower than
 Total sex trafficking arrests (Jan. 2008-June 2010) 410 suspects
and 460 victims, of which 248 are under age 18. [Duren Banks
and Tracey Kyckelhahn (2011) “Characteristics of Suspected
Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010.
Other Myths
 Child Trafficking Myths cont’d, by ECPAT
 Followup source: Estes, Richard J. and Neil Alan Weiner, “The
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada
and Mexico”, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2001, p.10
 “A Cautionary Note: These estimates reported in Exhibit ES.2a
reflect what we believe to the number of children in the United
States ‘at risk’ of commercial sexual exploitation, i.e., children who
because of their unique circumstances as runaways, thrownaways,
victims of physical or sexual abuse, users of psychotropic drugs,
members of sexual minority groups, illegally trafficked children,
children who cross international borders in search of cheap drugs
and sex, and other illicit fare, are at special risk of sexual
exploitation. The numbers presented in these exhibits do not,
therefore, reflect the actual number of cases of the CSEC in the
United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of
children ‘at risk’ of commercial sexual exploitation.”
Other Myths
 Myth: Myth “up to 100000 sex
traffickers” will flock to Super Bowl.
 "The Super Bowl is the greatest show
on Earth, but it also has an ugly
underbelly. It's commonly known as
the single largest human trafficking
incident in the United States.“ Texas
Attorney General Greg Abbott told
USA Today in 2011
 Actual
prostitution for Super Bowl in
Miami (2010) – 16, according to
Klaas Kids and Kristi House
Part III :
Becoming a myth buster
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting Tips #1. Consider the Source
 University studies trump media reports/ polls; victim
industry advocates being least reliable
 Rand Corp., Gallup, Pew Center polls tend to be better than
media polls, especially the online polls
 Is the study peer reviewed? Are these merely preliminary
 Watch out for “estimates,” “round numbers,” “One In”
stats, and “Goldilocks Numbers”
 Be wary of media reports on the study, they tend to
simplify/ misread results
 Keep everything in perspective: Media loves spotlighting
small numbers
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting Tip #2: Read the source
 Who is the author? Who does this person represent? Be especially
wary of victim advocate studies (NCMEC, PFML)
 When was the study? Anything before the 1990s may not reflect
today’s sex offender climate
 What is the sample size? The more people participating, the better.
 Brush up in your math and semantics (Ex: how do they define
recidivism? What is the correlation between X and Y?)
 Time savers: Introductory paragraphs summarize previous
 Pay greatest attention to the results, discussion, and limitations
 Watch for critiques of studies
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting Tip #3: Watch out for and arm yourself
against common deflection tactics:
1. Watch for logical fallacies: Ad hominem (personal
attacks): Appeals to emotion; ad ignorantiam (stats
that can’t be proven or disproven); Appeal to
authority; Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc; Red herrings,
Cherry picking, The Moving Goalpost, Straw Man,
“Data Soup,” and Twististics
2. “Stick to your guns:” Have a game plan and don’t
deviate from it. Reporters want that “deer in the
headlines” look (the “gotcha!” moment)
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting Tip #4: Don’t rely solely on stats to
prove a point
 We may have the facts on our side, but many people
will say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I’ve made
up my mind.”
 Using emotional testimony is not always a fallacy
 We ALL have a story to tell, and we have tragedies
on our end. Fight fire with fire, or in this case,
emotion with emotion.
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting Tip #5: “Know Thy Enemy”
 If gearing up for a debate or response, read the
opposition’s works, watch them on TV/ Youtube
 Practice your talking points (take a Verbal Assertive
Training class, find someone to role play/ quiz you,
memorize short catchphrases)
 Don’t be afraid to “turn the tables” – Make THEM
prove themselves, “show me the proof”
Myth Busting
 Myth Tip #6 “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”
 Accentuate the positive: It is all about perspective. Instead of
saying “Sex offenders have a 5% recidivism rate” say “Over
95% of registrants never reoffend.” the larger number is in OUR
favor. Emphasize it!
 Eliminate the negative: Know your sources, compound the
positive numbers, & force the other side cite their sources
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting In Action
 Example #1: The “Butner” study by Michael Bourke and Andres
Hernandez (2007) that claimed 85% of C.P. viewers also committed a
“hands on offense” (Sample size: 155)
 The US Bureau of Prisons, who funded the study, requested the study
be retracted because it did not meet their standards
 Henrandez himself says this about the study: ““Some individuals have
misused the results of [BOP study] to fuel the argument that the
majority of CP offenders are indeed contact sexual offenders and,
therefore, dangerous predators. This simply is not supported by the
scientific evidence.”
 R.W. Wollert points out that the study was inadequately designed and
misleading in its results. Former Butner patients have disclosed that
“they were expected to disclose new offenses on an ongoing basis as
part of their treatment participation.” (i.e., Coercion under the guise of
Myth Busting
 Myth Busting In Action
 Example #2: Study claims “1 in 6 RSOs are intentionally manipulating
data to hide in plain sight”
 Source: Donald Rebovich, Ph.D., executive director of Utica College’s
Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP) – a
Data analyst, NOT a criminologist
 The study is still unavailable for review
 Preliminary findings indicated that several of the most frequent identity
manipulation methods utilized by sex offenders to avoid detection were:
Using multiple aliases.
Using various identifying information such as SS#s or date of birth.
Stealing identifying information from family members.
Manipulating either their own name, or changed name through marriage.
Using the address of family members or friends.
Altering physical appearance.
Moving to other states with less stringent laws.
Created by Derek W. Logue of Once Fallen © 2013, All Rights Reserved

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