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Resident Faculty
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Resident Faculty

David L. Burton, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

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Dr. Burton retired from the Smith College School for Social Work in 2014, but retains the title and honor of professor emeritus.

David Burton teaches research and cognitive behavioral theory and methods courses at Smith. He is also involved in research with Ph.D. students. Burton has worked in the field of sexual aggression for over 20 years as a clinician with adolescents and children. He researches the childhood victimization and etiology of child, adolescent and adult sexual abusers. Current research interests include trauma histories of sexual abusers, nonsexual criminality of sexual abusers, attachment, cognitive behavioral theory and treatment, pornography, masculinity, psychopathy, substance abuse, self-cessation methods, evidence-based practice, effectiveness of treatment for adolescent sexual abusers and racial discrimination of sexual abusers.

Dr. Burton has been published in several journals including Child Abuse and Neglect; Sexual Aggression; Evidenced Based Social Work; Smith College Studies in Social Work; Violence and Victims; Journal of Forensic Nursing; and Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Practice. Burton serves on the editorial board of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment and is the associate editor of Smith College Studies in Social Work. He is an active member of CSWE, NASW, SSWR, NAPN and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) and serves on the board of the Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Current research projects include collaboration with Delaware Department of Youth Services, Ohio's Department of Youth Services, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and John Joseph Peter's Institute in Philadelphia.

In 2014, Dr. Burton was awarded the Lifetime Significant Achievement Award by the Association for the Treatment of Sex Offenders.


Ph.D., University of Washington School of Social Work

M.S.W, University of Houston

B.S., University of Houston

Professional Interest Areas

Clinical social work, trauma, prevention of sexual aggression, treatment of adolescent and adult sexual abusers and children with sexual behavior problems, treatment of issues of concern to GLBT clients and research and evaluation.

Areas of Current Research

The role of trauma in sexual aggression, etiology and treatment of sexual aggression, attachment disorders of sexual abusers, personality of sexual abusers, racial disparity among sexual abusers in treatment, evaluation of delinquents, nonsexual crimes and trauma correlates and related areas.

Selected Recent Publications

Burton, D. & Booxbaum, A.J. (In Press). Self-reported methods of cessation of adult male child abusers: A pilot study. Orthopsychiatry.

Burton, D., Hedgepeth, M., Ryan. G., Leibowitz, G. & Compton, D. (In Press). The relationship of trauma to non-sexual crimes committed by adolescent sexual abusers. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma.

Gockel, A. & Burton, D. (In press). Can God help? Religion among adolescent male sex offenders. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma.

Leon, C., Burton D. & Alvare, D. (In press). Net-widening in Delaware: The Overuse of Registration and Residential Treatment for Youth Who Commit Sex Offenses. Widener Law Review, 17(1).

Burton, D. & Duty, K. & Leibowitz, G. (2010 - In press). Differences between sexually victimized and non-sexually victimized male adolescent sexual abusers: Developmental antecedents and behavioral comparisons. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse.

Burton, D. (2008). An exploratory evaluation of the contribution of personality and childhood sexual vicitimization to the development of sexually abusive behavior. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. 20(1), 102–115.

Burton, D. & Meezan, W. (2007). A preliminary examination of racial differences in trauma and sexual aggression among adolescent sexual abusers. Smith Studies, 77(1), 101–121.

Burton, D. & Meezan, W. (2004). Revisiting recent research on social learning theory as an etiological proposition for sexually abusive male adolescents. The Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 1(1) 41–81.

Lyn, T. & Burton, D. (2004). Adult attachment and sex offender status. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74(2), 150–159.

Burton, D. (2003). Male adolescents: Sexual vicitimization and subsequent sexual abuse. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 29, 4, 277–296.

Burton, D. Miller, D., & Schill, C.T. (2002). A social learning theory comparison of the sexual victimization of adolescent sexual offenders and nonsexual offending male delinquents. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26, 893–907.

Burton, D. (2000). Were adolescent sexual offenders children with sexual behavior problems? Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 12, 1, 37–48.

Burton, D. (1999). An examination of Social Cognitive Theory with differences among sexually aggressive, physically aggressive and non-aggresive children in state care. Violence and Victims, 14, 2, 161–178.

Nesmith, A., Burton, D. & Cosgrive, T. (1999). Gay, lesbian, bisexual youth: Social support in their own words. Journal of Homosexuality, 37, 1, 95–108.

Burton, D. & Smith-Darden, J. (2001). North American survey of sexual abuser treatment and models summary data. Brandon,, VT: Safer Society Foundation, Inc.

Burton, D. & Smith-Darden, J., with Levins, J., Fiske, J. and Freeman-Longo, R. (1999). The 1996 Safer Society Survey of sexual offender treatment programs. Brandon, VT: Safer Society Foundation, Inc.

Selected Recent Presentations

April 13, 2007: Burton, D. & Caserta, D. Substance use and drug related crime in juvenile sex offenders. A workshop at the annual Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Marlborough, MA.

September 28, 2006: Burton, D. & Duty, K. Families of adolescent sexual abusers. A workshop presentation for the National Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers Conference in Chicago, IL.

July 8, 2006: Burton, D. & Knight, R. Comparisons of adult versus juvenile sexual abusers. Presentation at the 10th International Family Violence Research Conference in Portsmouth, NH.

April 24, 2006: Burton, D. Evidenced based trauma therapy for children and adolescents. A workshop at the annual meeting of the National Adolescent Perpetiation Network, Atlanta, GA.

April 12, 2006: Burton, D. & Lagoy, M. The top ten mistakes of new staff at residential facilities that treat adolescent sexual abusers. Presented at the annual Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Marlborough, MA.

November 17, 2005: Burton, D. Battling misconceptions about adolescent sexual abusers' exposure to pornography. A poster presentation for the National Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.