For years, we have all been reactive to an ever increasing list of policies that affect adult sex offenders as well as children and adolescents who have sexual behavior problems.  Over the past year, MASOC and MATSA have been working hard to educate policy makers about:

  1. Problem: Policies are often implemented without asking the important question - does this policy have any evidence for making our communities safer?

    Progress: We have been seeing a slow shift among among many policy makers towards asking whether any proposed legislation or regulation is based in research and/or proven to be effective.

  2. Problem: Adult sex offenders MUST be treated differently than teens or children with sexual behavior problems.

    Progress: Research has shown how children or adolescents who sexually abuse are markedly different from adult sex offenders. We are collaborating with a number of groups to begin to align Massachusetts with the progress made in many other parts of the country.

  3. Problem: There is very little investment in preventing sexual violence and not enough of our resources are invested in treatment for victims and survivors of sexual violence.

    Progress: We are fortunate to have many victim based organizations working with us to ensure that we continue to bring both of these issues into discussion with legislators, public administrators and other key stakeholders.

Focus of our work in Massachusetts

Our current “one-size- fits all” approach to sex offender policy fails to recognize the fundamental developmental differences between adults and adolescents/children that have guided our criminal justice responses for several decades. It also fails to acknowledge and integrate the volume of scientific research that clearly delineates the neurological, social, and environmental factors that influence adolescent and child behavior in a manner that is notably different from adults.

MASOC’s policy work aims to educate legislators, policy makers, clinicians, case managers, and other professionals about the need to provide different standards for care, different treatment and management options, and different policies for youth that are distinctly different from what is offered and mandated for adults.

If you want to learn more, sign up for MASOC’s FREE membership on your registration form to receive policy alerts.

Rethinking Our Approach to Adolescents: Considering Age-Appropriate Responses to Problematic Adolescent Sexual Behavior in Massachusetts

This paper provides an overview about how the differences in adolescent development should beconsidered when developing policies that address the problem of sexual violence, and they should serve as the foundation for creating systemic responses and interventions that are demonstrably different for adolescents and adults in the vast majority of cases.

 Rethinking Adolescent Policies 8.1.16
 registration and community notification


Registration and Notification: Does Including Adolescents Make us Safer

Given the substantial body of research that shows how damaging adult sex offender laws can be to the still-developing youth and the larger community, there is a growing movement in the USA to clarify the distinction between adults who sexually abuse and the children or adolescents who engage in sexually abusive behaviors. This paper outlines the problem in Massachusetts, provides a systematic presentation of relevant research, and suggests a path to rectifying that problem.


Massachusetts Child/Adolescent Assessment Protocol (M-CAAP)

The M-CAAP provides a process for evaluating adolescents who have sexually abusive behavior or other problematic sexual behaviors. The M-CAAP is a comprehensive exploration of a youth’s life that reviews a group of historical, personal and contextual factors that lend themselves to a more complete understanding of the youth and the circumstances that may have contributed to the abusive behaviors.

 MASOC ChildAdolescent  

Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative (SOMAPI)

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Recognizing the important role scientific evidence plays in the assessment and treatment of adults and adolescents who have sexually abused, the SMART Office developed the Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative (SOMAPI).  This project is designed to assess the current state of research and practice in sex offender management and as a result, offers an excellent summary of what is known as well as key recommendations for professionals in this field.


Considering Family Reconnection and Reunification after Child Sexual Abuse: A Road Map for Advocates and Service Providers

Joan Tabachnik and Peter Pollard

This guide is written for sexual assault program advocates working with families who are considering reunification with someone who has sexually offended. It provides an overview of the reunification process and how to navigate the process of clarification, reconnection, and reunification.