The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Registered Sex Offenders: An Examination of the Role of Stressors as Disinhibitors on Deviant Sexual Thoughts and Fantasies
The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed led to social isolation, and by extension, widespread negative mental health consequences among the general population. There is little known about these negative mental health effects among registered sex offenders (RSOs). However, prior research has shown that RSOs may be especially vulnerable to the mental health effects of the pandemic due to their propensity for social isolation, stigma, social and economic consequences as a result of their sex offender status. Thus, the goal of this study was to qualitatively assess eight registered sex offenders (RSOs) in central Texas using thematic analysis. Their perceptions of the stressors that occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic were recorded and analyzed. Moreover, RSOs stressors with regard to the potential to become precursors to sexual recidivism such as experiencing deterioration of their mental health and subsequently relying on poor coping strategies such as increased sexual fantasies or thoughts of alcohol use were also assessed. The results of the study determined that RSOs perceived, no changes to their mental health (stress, social isolation, depression or anxiety) or poor coping strategies (sexual ideations, alcohol craving), and minimal changes to their finances, employment and resources to during the Covid-19 pandemic. RSOs perceived social, societal and relational stigma as far more stressful and isolation-inducing than the Covid-19 pandemic. Future research should further clarify the relationship between stress, isolation, self-esteem, non-sexual recidivism, and triggers to sexual abuse.
COVID-19, pandemic, sex offenders, negative psychological effects, sex offender stressors, anxiety and depression, registered sex offenders
Loeber, B. (2023). The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on registered sex offenders: An examination of the role of stressors as disinhibitors on deviant sexual thoughts and fantasies (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.