Sex offenders and sex offending in the cambridge study in delinquent development: Prevalence, frequency, specialization, recidivism, and (dis)continuity over the life-course

Alex R. Piquero, David P. Farrington, Wesley G. Jennings, Brie Diamond, Jessica Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


The study of criminal careers has resulted in important descriptive information about the longitudinal patterns of offending over the life-course. Much of this research has examined more common patterns of general offending, typically among street offenders. An under-explored question is the extent to which distinct types of offenders display similar patterns on key criminal career dimensions. The current study examines this particular issue with a focus on sex offenders using longitudinal data from a cohort of South London males participating in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. Results show that, contrary to popular opinion, sex offending is quite rare, with less than 3% of the Cambridge males being convicted for 13 sex offenses through age 50. Further, there was no continuity in sex offending from the juvenile to adult periods and very few recidivist sex offenders. Directions for future research are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-426
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuity
  • Criminal careers
  • Longitudinal
  • Sex offenders
  • Sex offending

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