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Incorporating sociocultural and situational factors into explanations of sexual offending

Leigh Harkins


This workshop will involve comprehensive consideration of the wide range of sociocultural and situational factors that influence sexually violent offending.  Although each individual ultimately decides whether or not to engage in criminal activity, numerous additional factors can impact this decision. A previously prescribed multifactorial model of multiple perpetrator sexual offending (Harkins & Dixon, 2010; 2013) has been expanded to more fully inform explanations of different types of interpersonal violent crime, including types of sexual violence more generally (Dixon, Harkins, & Wegerhoff, 2019). Factors within the sociocultural and situational contexts of the model will be reviewed, as well as the interactions between them and the individual context, to examine their role in explaining a broad range of sexually violent crimes. Attendees will interactively consider how better recognition of the role of these sociocultural and situational factors could be used to inform prevention, assessment, and treatment. 


Leigh Harkins is an Associate Professor at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Her current research interests focus on understanding sexual aggression and aggression in groups including factors influencing perceptions of the acceptability of sexually coercive behavior, sexual violence related to dating app use, and multiple perpetrator sexual offending. Dr. Harkins’ previous work has focused on understanding and improving assessment and treatment of people who have committed sexual offenses. She also has practice experience working in treatment groups for sexual offenders, and completing psychological assessments in prisons and community criminal justice settings in Canada and the UK. Leigh has published numerous manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and has co-edited a book in the area of forensic psychology.