Author ORCID Identifier

Cynthia J. Najdowski:

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-20-2023



A policy's general deterrent effect requires would-be offenders to be aware of the policy, yet many adolescents do not know they could be registered as sex offenders, and even adolescents who do know may still commit registerable sexual offenses. We tested whether peer influences shape the perceived costs/benefits of certain sexual offenses and, subsequently, registration policy's general deterrent potential in a sample of policy-aware adolescents. The more adolescents believed their peers approve of sexting of nude images, the more likely they were to have sexted. For forcible touching, having more positive peer expectations about sex and perceiving forcible touching as more prevalent among peers related to adolescents' likelihood of engaging in that behavior. Perceiving registration as a possible consequence was unrelated to sexual offending. Findings highlight the nuanced roles peers play in adolescent sexual decision-making and support emerging evidence that juvenile registration policy has limited general deterrent efficacy.


This is the Author's Accepted Manuscript. The Version of Record can be found here: Najdowski, C. J., Cleary, H. M. D., & Oja, P. M. (2023). Relations between peer influence, perceived costs versus benefits, and sexual offending among adolescents aware of sex offender registration risk. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 41(2-3), 109-123.



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