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Ages 12-19

Rating: Level 2


The Sexual Abuse, Family Education, and Treatment (SAFE–T) Program is a specialized, community-based program that provides sexual abuse–specific assessment, treatment, consultation, and long-term support to 1) child victims of incest and their families, 2) children with sexual behavior problems and their families, and 3) adolescent sexual offenders and their families.

The program is initiated with a comprehensive clinical and psychometric assessment that assists in the development of individualized treatment plans for each offender and family. Although the course of treatment depends on the clinical need, availability, and willingness of family members, offenders are typically involved in concurrent group, individual, and family therapy. SAFE–T uses a repertoire of cognitive-behavioral and relapse prevention strategies. Related treatment goals include the enhancement of social skills, self-esteem, body image, appropriate anger expression, trust, and intimacy.


The evaluation of the program used a quasi-experimental design with nonequivalent comparison groups. The sample included all 148 adolescent sexual offenders (139 males and 9 females) assessed at the SAFE–T Program between 1987 and 1995. The offenders were ages 12 to 19 at the point of initial contact. Fifty-eight youths were assigned to the treatment group and received at least 12 months of specialized treatment at SAFE–T. Ninety youths were assigned to the comparison group and received only an assessment (n=46), refused treatment (n=17), or dropped out before 12 months (n=27). The follow-up period ranged from 2 to 10 years.

Offenders completed a battery of psychological tests to provide standardized data regarding social, sexual, and family functioning. The tests include the Assessing Environments Scale, the Tennessee Self-Concept, the Youth Self-Report, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Buss Durkee Hostility Inventory, the Socialization Scale for the California Psychological Inventory, and the Multiphasic Sex Inventory–Juvenile Male Research Edition. The study also employed data from the Canadian Police Information Center. Criminal charges were used as the dependent measure. Limitations of the study include 1) a lack of random assignment, 2) an exclusive concentration on official data to estimate recidivism, and 3) the inability to isolate the specific intervention that caused success in each offender.


The evaluation results support the efficacy of SAFE–T for reducing the risk of adolescent sexual recidivism. Relative to the comparison group, there was a 72 percent reduction in sexual recidivism for adolescents completing at least 12 months of assessment and treatment. Further, although previous research had found that many treated sexual offenders are likely to be charged with subsequent sexual offenses, participation in the SAFE–T program was associated with a 41 percent reduction in violent nonsexual recidivism and a 59 percent reduction in nonviolent offending.


Worling, James R., and Tracey Curwen. 2000. “Adolescent Sexual Abuse Offender Recidivism: Success of Specialized Treatment and Implications for Risk Prediction.” Child Abuse and Neglect 24(7): 965–82.


Barbara Rodgers, Director
SAFE–T Program
51 Panorama Court
Thistletown Regional Centre for Children and Adolescents
Toronto, Ontario M9V 4L8
Phone: (416) 326-0647
Fax: (416) 326-6581