This is the second of two Q & A posts, over the next couple of weeks, on upcoming special editions of SAJRT. There is currently a call for papers out on a special edition related to “Connecting Theory With Research: Testing Hypotheses About the Causes of Sexual Offending”, please read the blog below and if you are interested in submitting an article follow the instructions on the SAJRT website (http://sax.sagepub.com/content/28/1/73.full.pdf+html) – Kieran
What is the topic of the special issue?
We are very happy to be guest editors of this special issue of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment! (Follow this link to see the call for papers: (http://sax.sagepub.com/content/28/1/73.full.pdf+html.) This special issue is meant to take stock of the state of the available evidence regarding theoretical assertions about the causes of sexual offending and to provide guidance for future research. We are hoping to receive manuscripts that focus on questions such as the following: What evidence do we have regarding assertions about the causes of sexual offending made in theories/models of sexual offending? What evidence is missing? How credible is the available evidence? What methodological approaches (e.g., design, measurement, analysis, etc.) will yield more conclusive evidence?
What is the story behind this special issue?
We wanted to facilitate discussion in the field about research on the causes of sexual offending. We got things started by conducting a pre-conference seminar with Michael Seto, Tony Beech, and Patrick Lussier at last year’s ATSA conference in Montreal. We received generous funding and other support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Connection grant), ATSA, and the Carleton University Psychology Department for our pre-conference seminar—thank you very much! (The handouts from our pre-conference seminar are available on Kevin’s lab website: www.carleton.ca/acbrlab) We are now aiming to take the discussion further with this special issue of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. We thank Michael Seto for his support and SAGE for generously providing complimentary open access publishing through toll-free linking for articles in this special issue—thank you very much!
Why is this topic (communicated through the pre-conference seminar and special issue) important for researchers and practitioners who work to prevent sexual abuse?
Identifying causes of sexual offending is the foundation of effective and efficient assessment and intervention aimed at managing and reducing sexual offending. Practice is often guided by implicit or explicit assumptions about the causes of sexual offending. For example, if you believe that changing attitudes (or any other factor you think is important) through treatment reduces the likelihood of sexual offending, then you believe that attitudes are a cause of sexual offending. Thanks to the efforts of pioneering researchers and practitioners, impressive advances have been made in our field. Numerous theories and models provide carefully considered and well-informed hypotheses about the causes of sexual offending. However, credible tests of these hypotheses are remarkably rare. Even more remarkable is that this important gap in scientific knowledge seems to be recognized or acknowledged by so few people in our area, researchers and non-researchers alike. We know that testing such hypotheses is very difficult, but methodological rigor is a matter of degree and there is certainly room for improvement. In part, the scarcity of rigorous tests may be due to uncertainty about the relevant empirical evidence available and the optimal methodological approaches required. Our hope for this special issue is that it will raise awareness about important gaps in knowledge regarding the causes of sexual offending and identify ways to narrow those gaps. We believe this will help researchers to do more rigorous and informative studies on the causes of sexual offending, which, ultimately, will help practitioners and policy-makers to more effectively and efficiently reduce sexual offending.
Kevin L. Nunes, PhD, and Chantal A. Hermann, PhD.