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Juvenile Forensic Research Group

Amanda M. Fanniff, Ph.D.

Positions are available for 3 students to join this research group focused on development, sexuality, and juvenile justice issues. Some areas of interest include:

  1. developmentally and empirically informed assessment, treatment, prevention, and policy regarding adolescents and young adults who have committed sexual harm;
  2. juvenile competence to stand trial, including assessment and the impact of development on competence; and
  3. cultural considerations in forensic contexts.

You will be expected to attend biweekly lab meetings throughout your participation in the research group (including your dissertation year) as well as additional small group meetings. You will be expected contribute to research group activities (eventually including your own projects) for a total of about 8-10 hours per week. Most of the work you do for the research group will be able to be completed on a schedule of your choosing. Descriptions of selected current projects follow.

  1. Multidimensional Inventory of Development Sex and Aggression in a Community Sample of College Students. This study focuses on early exposure to pornography and how it impacts and interacts with other childhood experiences as well as personality characteristics to predict sexual coercion. Other exploratory aspects of the project include investigating the perceived impact of pornography use (positive and negative) in men and women and questions regarding concerning behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, intimate partner violence) that may co-occur with sexual coercion. All students in the group will be expected to assist with data collection (current site is Dominican University of California, hoping to expand to community colleges as well), data entry, data analysis, and manuscript preparation. 
  2. Cultural Influences on Self-Reported Child Maltreatment. Using data from the project above, students are working on exploring differences between racial/ethnic groups on self-reported child abuse and neglect and determining whether the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire functions similarly in different groups. Although new group members might not be actively involved in this project, we are looking to expand to further explore cultural influences on assessment tools that may be used in forensic settings.
  3. Gender, Sexuality, and Cultural Influences on Rape Myth Acceptance. Although young people today are less likely to endorse many blatant rape myths (e.g., “A woman can resist a rape if she really wants to”), endorsement of more subtle myths is likely more common and the impact of individual characteristics of victims and respondents in terms of gender, sexual orientation, and culture is unknown. We are currently developing a project designed to assess endorsement of subtle rape myths across different victim/respondent combinations. Our hope is that understanding such factors may inform prevention practices (e.g., on college campuses). New students may be involved in the analysis and writing of results for this project or in the development of follow-up research.
  4. Assessment of amenability to treatment in juveniles adjudicated for sexual offenses. This project will build on research I have been engaged in regarding factors associated with amenability, and will involve developing the measure, pilot testing, and examining the psychometric properties of the measure when used by a local treatment facility. Students may assist in writing items for the amenability measure and may be involved in data collection, data analysis, and manuscript preparation. We are in conversation with local providers regarding starting this project, and should this proceed we will likely include a component investigating the impact of polygraphy on the treatment of juveniles adjudicated for sexual offenses.
  5. Our group is also collaborating with Dr. Sita Patel on the Trajectories of Risk and Resiliency among Newcomer Immigrant Adolescents project. Projects may include analyses focused on whether risk and protective factors identified in the broader delinquency literature function in the same way in this unique population.

Other duties for the research group may include preparing brief statistics presentations for the research group or contributing to other projects that may be developed. Students may be involved in the preparation of non-empirical publications (e.g., chapters solicited for inclusion in edited books) and will be encouraged to develop proposals for empirical research using existing datasets that include both juveniles adjudicated for sexual offenses and other delinquents. The research group is open to formulating new study ideas; students would have the opportunity to be involved in development of new projects as well.


How to Apply:

Students interested in applying should send the following to Dr. Fanniff at by the 2017 Research Group application deadline:

  • Cover letter (2 pages max) that includes (1) your research interests, (2) a brief description of your career goals (e.g., professor, clinician, etc.) and populations of interest (e.g., adult offenders, juvenile offenders, sex offenders), and (3) a description of how the juvenile forensic research group might contribute to your broader career goal
  • Current Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing samples: the first version and the current version of your first year Research Methods proposal and up to one additional writing sample (not required) that best conveys your writing ability, preferably a research paper. 


Applicants will first meet with current members of the juvenile forensic research group. In addition to providing an initial interview, you can also use this opportunity to learn more about the research group to determine if this group is a good fit for you. Based on your application materials and the feedback resulting from the first round of interviews, Dr. Fanniff will interview a select group of highly qualified applicants. New group members will be selected based on merit and degree of fit regarding research interests.

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