Essay on Sex Offenders: Nature or Nurture?

6 pages
1591 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Sex offenders refer to individuals who have been convicted of sexual crimes. The definition of sexual crimes varies depending on cultural orientations and legal jurisdiction. However, most of them consist in crimes which are of the sexual nature where the offender violates an individuals right to engage in a sexual interaction. Sexual crimes are a common occurrence in America. According to NSWOP (2017), more than 18% of all American women have been sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime. NSWOP (2017) also reports that the perpetrators of the sexual crimes are predominantly white. Coyne and Wright (2013) state that a discussion has been undergoing inside and outside criminology circles on whether sex crimes are nurtured or induced by nature. The debates discuss whether the sexual deviant behavior is inherited or is groomed in an individual through their environment. Although there are different views on sexual offences, it is clear that sexual offenders become what they are by nature, not nurture.

Shriver (2015) believes that there is a genetic proclivity that paves an individual's way towards sexual offenses. Shriver (2015) analyzes a study conducted in Sweden across more than 20,000 cases of male sexual offenses over a span of more than 35 years. The study showed that an individual whose father or brother has been convicted of a sexual offense was five or more likely to be convicted of a sexual crime when compared to an average person. The study attempted to explain the findings by connecting the families with a shared environment but it found out that in only 2% of the cases the cases of the family could be explained the shared environment. The genetic factors were found stronger for cases of child molestation when compared to adult rape (Horan & Widom, 2015). The implication of this study is that there is a genetic markup for one's potential to commit a sex crime.

Many theories have been developed on the causes of sex offenses with speculations ranging from psychological problems and celibacy to past abuse. However, as more studies are conducted on the disorder, the results seem to point to the genetic markup of the individuals. Weaver (2016) explains a case where a distraught mother found out that her son, who seemed harmless, had abused children from his church. The son suffered from pedophilia, a mental disorder in adults that is defined by persistent sexual attraction to pre-adolescent children. According to Weaver (2016), pedophilia affects approximate 1% to 2% of the male population as well as a smaller percentage of women. Science has suggested that pedophiles tend to be short, have low IQ and are likely to be left-handed (Weaver, 2016). MRI scans on brains of pedophiles illustrate that these individuals usually have less connective tissues in their brains. This has led to speculations by scientists that their parts of brains that control and nurturing and sexual responses may be cross-wired. These studies show that pedophilia, which may lead sexual offenses, could be attributed to our genetic blueprints.

People who study the evolution of the human culture, anthropologist, have argued that evolution has wired males to attract young females as a means of spreading genes (Horam & Widom, 2015). The men are aroused by the young women but the society frowns against it and has made laws to prevent sexual interaction between adult males and young females by raising the age of consent. A normal man utilizes the cortex of the brain to make decisions that any sexual interactions with the underage are morally wrong or will have dire consequences if he is caught. However, pedophiles usually lack such inhibition due to poor impulse control and they end up engaging in sexual interactions with minors to satisfy their primitive needs.

A genotype that leads to increased aggression and a higher risk of violent behavior in certain environments has also been attributed to sexual offenses. The gene has even been successfully used in courts of law to reduce the length of sentences for violent crimes (Garcia-Arocena, 2015). If this gene dubbed the the criminal gene' induces violent behavior in presence of individuals targeted in sexual offenses such as children and women, it may lead to sexual crimes. This makes it clear that there are genetically induced behaviors and these behaviors can lead to heinous crimes such as violence or sexual assault.

Additionally, researchers have blamed neurochemicals for triggering criminal behavior and tendencies in individuals. This has motivated scientists to determine the list of chemicals that may trigger deviant behavior in human beings such as monoamine oxidase epinephrine and norepinephrine (Elliot, 2000). Such chemicals have been associated with antisocial behaviors and low levels in it triggers aggression and violent behaviors. Presence of other neurochemicals such as serotonin affects individuals personality traits and it may lead to impulsivity and aggressive behavior towards members of the opposite gender. The levels of these neurochemicals are affected by the genetics of an individual. This demonstrates that the genetics of an individual can lead to criminal behavior and sex offenses.

Also, Netland and Miner (2012) attribute sex offenses to people suffering from psychopathy. These are people who demonstrate personality traits that depict persistent and pervasive anti-social behaviors and the lack remorse. Psychopaths also tend to be egocentric, manipulative, impulsive unreliable and superficially charming. According to Lynam et al. (2005), the aspects of psychopathy associated with impulsivity, instability and antisocial behavior were associated with low agreeableness, low conscientiousness, and high neuroticism. This has led scientists to study the relationship between psychopaths and sex offender. Research has shown that male rapists are three times likely to be rapists compared to child molesters (Netland & Miner, 2012). Although the early childhood environment may contribute to the development of psychopathy, the roots of the disorder are based on genetics. It can be argued that genetics plays a vital role in the development of psychopathy which is a pathway to sexual violence.

Nevertheless, some scholars argue that some cases of sex offenses are nurtured. The environment in which one grows up in determines their future behavior. According to Laurance (2010), if you examine the background of a sexual offender, it is very easy to understand what went wrong in their early lives. In most cases, the offenders experience a difficult childhood (Laurance, 2010). The offenders in their childhood lived in an insecure household, without support and guidance from their parents and their peers and these acts as seeds for late day dysfunction. Laurance (2010) gives an example of men who watch pornography. He categorizes the men into three groups. The first group watches the pornography out of curiosity and it is repelled by what they see and they never watch it again. The second group watches the pornography and uses it to fuel their fantasies and for masturbation. The third group watches the pornography and then acts on their fantasy by getting a child to have sexual relations with. If these men in group one and two are kept in dangerous situations such as babysitting children, they will utilize the opportunity to actuate their fantasy and they will end up abusing the children. This is a very clear case of a sex offender who has been nurtured.

Finally, although sex offenders can be nurtured, it is vivid that most of their behavior can be attributed to nature. Psychopathy, which is a major motivator of sex offenders, is caused mainly by genetic disorders and it is inherited across family lines. The presence of abnormal neurochemical levels in the brain may trigger aggressive and impulsive episodes that may lead to sexual offenses. Scientists have discovered a genotyped nicknamed the criminal' gene which is triggering aggressive behaviors in people leading them to commit crimes. Anthropologists have demonstrated that the evolution of humans has wired men to be attracted to young women in order to spread the genes for continuity of the human race. Whereas most men are able to control this wiring', some men such us pedophiles are unable to control it and this leads to sexual encounters with children. Some scientists have argued that pedophiles have brains which are not adequately developed and this interconnects their sexual and nurturing responses leading to sexual attraction to very young children. Therefore, essay proves that the major cause of sexual offenses is based on the nature of human beings but not the environment in which they live.


Elliot, F. A. (2000). A neurological perspective of violent behavior. In D. H. Fishbein (Ed.), The science, treatment, and prevention of antisocial behaviors: Application to the criminal justice system (pp. 19-1 to 19-21). Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

Garcia-Arocena, D. (2015). The genetics of violent behavior. Retrieved October 14, 2017 from

Horan, J., & Widom, C. (2015). From childhood maltreatment to allostatic load in adulthood. Child Maltreatment, 20(4), 229-239.

Laurance, J. (2010). Born bad or made bad? The debate is reignited. The Independent. Retrieved October 14, 2017 from, D. R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (2007). Longitudinal evidence that psychopathy scores in early adolescence predict adult psychopathy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 155165. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.116.1.155

Netland, J., & Miner, M. (2012). Psychopathy traits and parental dysfunction in sexual offending and general delinquent adolescent males. Journal Of Sexual Aggression, 18(1), 4-22.

NSOPW. (2017). Facts and statistics. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from

Shriver, L. (2015). Dont be so hysterical about sex crimes | Lionel Shriver. the Guardian. Retrieved October 14, 2017 from

Weaver, C. (2016). Nature vs nurture: Are you raising a paedophile?. Now To Love. Retrieved October 14, 2017 from

Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: