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Eric W. Hickey


Public perception may have formed a consensus belief regarding sex offending. Males have considerably outweighed females with offenses, which may have created a bias against males. This study was a quantitative examination and review of the public's perceptions of female sex offenders (FSOs) as it related to their crimes and differences in sentencing when compared to male sex offenders (MSOs). There may be many reasons why females sexually offend, but there is a lack of understanding of these reasons and how FSOs are viewed by the public and the sentencing by the judicial system. The theoretical framework for the study centered around social learning theory, which views peoples' words, thoughts, and actions as having been influenced by someone else. Data collection was via 2 social media sites: Facebook and LinkedIn. The online survey presented 20 questions centered around the research questions, along with 6 questions focused on demographics of participants. Data were collected from 157 participants with no inclusion criteria necessary for participation and analyzed by finding key words to identify common trends among the participants that took part. Key findings for the study included beliefs that FSOs did not exist; FSOs and MSOs having no difference; FSOs existing because of being victims themselves as a minor; societal biases regarding women being the nurturer, carer, and mother of children; FSOs being coerced by MSOs; FSOs receiving less of a punishment than MSOs despite the crime being the same; a lack of media awareness for FSOs; the difference of gender and genitalia; and a lack of legal fairness between genders. Findings may be used by the judicial system to better understand FSOs, resulting in positive change.

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