Desistance From Sexual Offending: Do The Mainstream Theories Apply?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Anne Marie McAlinden
  • Mark Farmer
  • Shadd Maruna


The literature on desistance from crime has become well established in recent years with strong bodies of evidence supporting the role of factors such as employment, relationships and identity change in this process. However, the relevance of this literature to individuals convicted of sexual crimes is not known as such individuals are almost always excluded from this research. This article presents the results from one of the first empirical studies on desistance from sexual offending based on 32 in-depth life story interviews with adult males previously convicted of child sex offences. In this analysis we explore the significance of work, the role of relationships, and changes in imagined selves in the self-identities of individuals successfully desisting from sexual offending. The findings provide support for all three factors in helping to sustain desistance from sex offending, but also suggest clear differences between desistance from sex offending and other types of crime in these regards.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Early online date27 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017