Objective. This research was designed to validate a brief measure of self-esteem in sexual offenders: the Short Self-Esteem Scale (SSES).

Method. The SSES was administered to 1,376 adult males serving a prison sentence for a sexual offence, and 40 non-offending males.

Results. The internal consistency and test–retest reliability of the measure were excellent. The measure was able to discriminate between different types of sexual offender, and between sexual offenders with differing levels of static risk. The instrument's sensitivity to sexual offender treatment intervention was also demonstrated.

Conclusions. The SSES is a useful screening tool for self-esteem deficits in sexual offenders. However it cannot identify problematic high self-esteem and it does not differentiate between types or domains of self-esteem.