a third of sex crimes against juveniles are committed by juveniles,
according to new research commissioned by the Justice Department.
Juveniles are 36% of all sex offenders who victimize children. Seven out of eight are at least 12 years old, and 93% are boys, says the study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
The report comes as states toughen penalties for adult sex offenders and wrestle with how to handle juveniles.
"They are different from adult sex offenders," says study co-author David Finkelhor. They are more likely than adults to commit sex offenses in groups, and their victims are younger and more likely to be male.
Finkelhor says only about 10% of juvenile offenders have signs of "sexual preoccupation," an indicator of a pedophile. He says teen offenses include date rape. In the case of offenders age 12 or 13, it is often sexual experimentation with younger kids.
Early sex education is key to teaching boundaries and preventing such experimentation, Finkelhor says.