William E. PRENDERGAST, Treating Sex Offenders: A Guide to Clinical Practice with Adults, Clerics, Children, and Adolescents. Second Edition. New York: Haworth Press, 2004 pp. 331 Paperback ISBN: 0-7890-0931-5 $34.95; Hard Cover ISBN: 0-7890-0930-7 $49.95.
Reviewed by Biff ROCHA, University of Dayton, Dayton OH 45420

Used by such diverse groups as Planned Parenthood and the Roman Catholic Church, Treating Sex Offenders, is a practical and informative guide to understanding and providing service for an often misunderstood population. The second edition updates the original 1991 work with new material on both adolescent and adult sex offenders, analyzing similarities and differences in personality type, typical behavior, and treatment options.This book is a useful guide for professionals and laity on the identification and treatment of both perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse.

The U.S. Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and its accompanying Essential Norms, provide for the establishment in every Catholic diocese of a diocesan review board. Dr. Prendergast served as a member of the diocesan review board in Metuchen, New Jersey, assessing allegations of sexual abuse and determining a cleric's suitability for ministry. As a certified sex therapist Dr. Prendergast has nearly a half century of clinical treatment experience. In 1991 he was recognized by the New Jersey Child Assault Prevention Project with their Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the training of other professionals in the treatment of sex offenders. He has also authored Treating Sex Offenders in Correctional Institutions and Outpatient Clinics: A Guide to Clinical Practice (1991) and Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents: A Preventive Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Counselors (1996). The latter work is primarily aimed at a non-professional audience which makes it extremely helpful for parents and abuse survivors. While Treating Sex Offenders deals with some of the most recent theories and controversies in its clinical field, it is written in a straightforward manner that makes it readable for the non-specialist.

As someone who works with juvenile sex offenders, I found Dr. Prendergast's book to be very practical. His work is divided into two sections. The first section examines the characteristics of a sex offender and how to identify potential offenders. Dr. Prendergast claims that the offender pathology can be identified as early as age seven. He notes that compulsive sex offender behavior involves the whole person: body, mind, spirit and emotions. The second section naturally moves to the treatment of sex offenders. For each technique presented, he discusses its inception, the principles behind the technique, the technique's evolution with differing populations and the successes and failures of the technique. Each chapter of his book is illustrated with enlightening case studies. When case studies were carried over from the first edition, Dr. Prendergast has updated the progress of the clients in these case studies.

Since the Treating Sex Offenders was written amidst the 2002 disclosure of sexual offenses by American Catholic priests, Dr. Prendergast concludes his second edition with a chapter on religious personnel who molest children and adolescents. Along with a discussion of prevention and the reasons for clerical abuse, Dr. Prendergast also confronts some of the frequent misconceptions regarding clerical abuse. These popular beliefs include the notion that the majority of child sex abuse is perpetrated by Catholic priests, that a majority of priests are offenders, and that the vow of celibacy with the Roman Catholic Church is the cause of priests becoming abusers.


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