Analyzing Criminal Justice Student Attitudes Towards Sexual Offenders




Ard, Paige

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Numerous studies within the criminal justice (CJ) field have evaluated public attitudes towards sexual offenders to investigate whether they are disproportionately vilified as compared to other criminal groups. Generally, these studies have found that public perceptions of sex offenders are misconstrued (Corabian, 2021). A dire consequence of such beliefs is that unfounded stigmas misguide public opinions to enact harsh and discriminatory laws that may perpetuate criminality. For example, it has been acknowledged elsewhere that strict sex offender legislation is counterproductive to community safety as harsh restrictions stigmatize and prevent societal reintegration of sex offenders. Although numerous studies have evaluated public perceptions towards sex offenders, few studies have analyzed the perceptions of students, especially those who have a CJ focus. As CJ students begin their career paths, evaluating their attitudes towards sexual offenders may provide insight into future policies and approaches to working with sexual offenders by those most likely to work in this field. Using a sample of 98 undergraduate CJ students from Texas State University, this study explores attitudes towards sexual offenders using the Community Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders (CATSO) scale (Church, Wakeman, Miller, Clements & Sun, 2008). Differences in attitudes are then investigated based on participants’ sociodemographic information, educational levels, political affiliations, past/current enrollment within a sex offender class, and the intended career paths. Implications of the findings are discussed.



sex offenders, perceptions, attitudes, CJ students, careers, Honors College


Ard, P. E. (2022). Analyzing criminal justice student attitudes towards sexual offenders (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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