Date of Conferral







Susan Rarick


Personal characteristics of mental health professionals can impact their attitudes toward juvenile sex offenders (JSOs) and affect treatment. The correlation between mental health professionals' religiosity and their attitudes has not been examined, and there is limited research about the correlation between professionals' gender and attitudes. The purpose of this study was to examine how mental health professionals' religiosity and gender related to their attitudes toward JSO treatment. Labeling theory provided the theoretical foundation for this study. This theory posits that individuals label certain populations, such as sex offenders, as deviant and this labeling perpetuates a cycle of criminal behavior. Using a quantitative approach, 123 mental health professionals completed an Internet survey that included demographic information, the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire, and the Attitudes Toward Treatment of Sex Offenders survey. These served to identify gender and measure religiosity and attitudes toward JSO treatment. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was then used to examine the research questions and hypotheses. There were no statistically significant findings about how participants' religiosity and gender relate to their attitudes toward JSO treatment. However, further analyses revealed that type of profession and race of the participants affected their attitudes toward treatment. The findings can guide training programs to educate professionals that personal characteristics may affect their attitudes toward treatment. The potential for social change is that professionals' increased awareness may improve treatment effectiveness, which might ultimately lower offenders' recidivism and increase protection for the public.