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Forensic & Applied Cognitive Psychology Sexual Offending: Paedophiles & Child Molesters Dr Ann Henry Tuesday 12 th November 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic & Applied Cognitive Psychology Sexual Offending: Paedophiles & Child Molesters Dr Ann Henry Tuesday 12 th November 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Forensic & Applied Cognitive Psychology Sexual Offending: Paedophiles & Child Molesters Dr Ann Henry Tuesday 12 th November 2013

2 Sexual Offending  Media coverage – recent Jimmy Saville case & other cases of paedophilia/ child sexual abuse/ abusers  Extreme hostility & negative stigma towards paedophiles  Recidivism comparatively low  Megan’s law (USA) Megan abducted & murdered in 1994  Sarah’s Law (UK) abducted & murdered in   its-naming-of-sex-offenders html its-naming-of-sex-offenders html  Controversial & inconclusive research on role of pornography & sexual offending  Internet paedophiles (discussed fully in week 8 lecture)

3 Media images of Jimmy Saville story 

4 Sexual Offending  Classifications of child molesters (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978)  Fixated Offenders  Developmentally fixated on a permanent or temporary basis. Sexual interest in children rather than adults.

5 Sexual Offending  Regressed Offenders  Men matured in their sexuality but return to an earlier level of psychosexual development.  Psychosexual history shows primary interest in peer aged or adult individuals, rather than younger ones

6 Sexual Offending: Definitions Paedophilia (Pedophilia in US): Persistent sexual interest in pre-pubescent children as reflected by one’s sexual fantasies, urges, thoughts, arousal patterns or behaviour. Hebephilia: refers to a sexual interest in young postpubescent children. Ephebophilia: denotes interest in children in mid-to-late adolescent range. Seto, 2009 (cited in Miller, 2013) argues that Hebephilia & Ephebophilia maybe distinct from Pedophilia. DSM-V – Paedophilia under ‘Paraphilic Disorders’.

7 Sexual Offending: Paedophilic offender typologies  Holmes & Holmes (1996) extended earlier work  a) Situational child molester – four sub-types  b) Preferential child molester – three subtypes

8 a) Situational child molester  Does not have preferential interest in children per se – but will molest them as targets of opportunity if other outlets are unavailable  Further divided into four sub-types:

9 a) Situational child molester: Regressed pedophile  Usually molest female children in response to some ego- threatening situation.  Can engage in sex with adults – but likely to regard child as ‘pseudoadult’ –

10 a) Situational child molester: Morally indiscriminate pedophile  Has sex with adults, but may forcefully or coercively abuse children as a way of heightening his excitement  Enjoys controlling helpless victims  Fantasises using bondage-related pornography

11 a) Situational child molester: Sexually indiscriminate pedophile  No particular preference for children, but abuses them – often his own children or stepchildren  Part of a more generally sexually omnivorous pattern involving a wide variety of common & unusual sexual practices and partners

12 a) Situational child molester: naive/ inadequate child molester  Suffers from some form of brain syndrome, intellectual deficiency or mental disorder that makes him unable to understand the wrongfulness of his actions and/or control his impulses.  Abuse children because he is regarded as too weird or undesirable by peers to obtain sex through usual social channels

13 b) Preferential child molester  Prefers children to adults as sexual objects – divided into two sub-types  Seductive molester  Fixated molester  Sadistic pedophile

14 b) Preferential child molester: seductive molester  Courts & grooms his victims with gifts & attention  Likely to rationalise that he and child have special relationship based on mutual affection  He may concurrently molest several children  Least likely of three sub-types to use violence

15 b) Preferential child molester: Fixated molester  Fixated at a primitive stage of psychosexual development  Finds children attractive because he is psychologically a child himself – often appearing socially immature and socially inept  Not likely to physically harm victims  Slowly wins victims over by gradual process of seduction & physical affection  Intimacy with the children is as important as actual sex

16 b) Preferential child molester: Sadistic pedophile  This is the most violent type of molester  Erotic gratification is based on fusion of sexual arousal & sadistic aggression  Premeditated & ritualized- moves from place to place  Typically prefers young boys – will stalk them & abduct them  Enjoys torturing, sexually assaulting & mutilating the children.  Gains max pleasure from fear, pain & horror of victims  Child often dies, but sometimes lives with disfigurement or permanent disability  Like a serial killer or serial killer with children as victims

17 Sexual Offending  How common is Paedophilia?  Unclear as depends on definition of sexual abuse used e.g. indecent assault, gross indecency, buggery, intercourse, rape.  Non-paedophile sexual arousal – using volume or circumference phallometry (aka plethysmography) conflicting findings (Hall et al, 1995)  Youthful offenders  Graves et al (1996) in USA found that up to half of child sexual abuse carried out by persons under age of 21

18 Sexual Offending: Theories of Paedophilia  Preconditions model  Psychotherapeutic/ cognitive model  Sexualisation model  Pathways model

19 Sexual Offending  Preconditions model of child molestation  Araji & Finkelhor (1985)  1) Emotional congruence with children (lack self-esteem, psychosocially immature, may have need to dominate)  2) Social arousal by children (child pornography, hormonal abnormalities/ imbalances)  3) Blockages preventing adult contact (lack effective social skills, problems relating to adult females, repressive sexual socialisation in childhood)  4) Disinhibition of norms against adult/child sex (offenders may be senile, alcohol may decrease inhibitions, incest- tolerant subculture)

20 Sexual Offending  Psychotherapeutic/ cognitive model  Suggests 4 steps  1) Cognitive distortions/ distorted thinking e.g. having sex with a child is a good way of an adult teaching a child about sex. Beliefs about sexual nature of children.  2) Grooming (bribes of sweets, other treats, trips out, threats of violence)  3) Planning through fantasy  4) Denial – denying the consequences of their actions

21 Sexual Offending  Sexualisation model  Howitt (1995) Experience of sexual abuse in childhood is a developmental process which can lead to paedophilia.  Early sexual abuse – especially if extreme or repeated - possible sexual experience with peers- adolescent paedophile career – paedophile adult  Controversial theory as women are more likely to be victims of childhood sexual, but less likely to be sexual offenders

22 Sexual Offending  Pathways model (Ward & Siegert, 2002)  Multi-factorial model – combining elements of previous models/ theories  Distal & Proximal factors  Distal factors (predispositions e.g. genetic/ childhood development)  Proximal factors (that might trigger predispositions e.g. environment, negative mood state)

23 Pathways Model  4 psychological mechanisms  1) Intimacy & social skills deficits  2) Deviant sexual scripts  3) Emotional dysregulation  4) Cognitive distortions

24 Cognitive Distortions  Children as sexual objects  Entitlement- to have their sexual needs met  Dangerous world – children seen as reliable & trusting & gives offender comfort against danger  Uncontrollable – claims not to be on control of own actions & blames outside factors e.g. drugs/ alcohol  Nature of Harm – believes not all sexual activity is harmful & children can benefit from sexual activity with adults

25 Female child sex offenders (FCSOs)  Strickland (2008) true figure of FCSOs is unknown  In USA – average age of FCSOs 26-36, but can also be younger & much older women  Finkelhor et al (1990) 17% of male victims reported being abused as a child by women & 1% of female victims  FCOSs may choose victims of convenience of opportunity e.g. may be family caregivers or take jobs working with children as teachers/ child care workers etc.  Usually known to their victims & more likely to commit offences with male co-perpetrator  Tend to use less physical force than men – rely more on seduction or coercion  Less likely to use drugs or alcohol at time of offence

26 Female child sex offenders (FCSOs): Developmental Background  Tend to come from more deprived backgrounds than non-sexual female offenders.  Often subjected to poor living conditions, food deprivation & lack of medical care  Frequently suffered extreme emotional, verbal, physical & sexual abuse within their own families of origin  (Gannon & Rose, 2008)

27 Female child sex offenders (FCSOs):Psychological traits & Disorders  Emotional immaturity & dependency  Low self-esteem  Physical/ psychological abuse as children  Domestic violence  Social isolation & impaired intimacy  Sexual dysfunction  Deficient or confused interpersonal boundaries  Suppressed needs & repressed anger  Substance abuse  View themselves as victims & powerless to change their lives

28 Female child sex offenders (FCSOs):Psychological traits & Disorders  Factors listed on previous slide might result in a stunting effect of normal developmental pathways needed to build appropriate coping and social skills, healthy personality organisation, communication skills, social relationships, and feelings of self-worth.  Borderline and paranoid personality characterise many FCSOs – little evidence for psychopathy or anti-social personality disorders (which are common with male sex offenders)

29 Female child sex offenders (FCSOs): Typologies  Predisposed (intergenerational) FSO  Teacher/ Lover FCSO  Male-coerced FCSO  Psychologically disturbed FCSO  Heterosexual nurturer  Non-criminal heterosexual offender  Homosexual criminal offender  Female Sexual predator  Young adult child exploiter  Aggressive homosexual offender

30 Female child sex offenders (FCSOs): typologies summarised  1) True Sexual predators of young adolescent boys  2) A romantic relationship with a young teenage boy to compensate for unmet needs for intimacy and approval  3) Career criminals who exploit children & adolescents for profit  4) Mentally disordered offenders  5) Female sex offender under the influence or coercion of a male partner

31 Sexual Offending  Internet Paedophile offending  Controversial topic – whether linked to contact paedophilia or not  Robbins & Darlington (2003) 27,000 people in the world go onto child pornography sites every day. A million images of child sexual abuse in circulation.  Internet chat rooms  Sexual fantasy vs contact sexual acts with children

32 Useful references  Craissati, J.,Falla, S., McClurg, G & Beech, A. (2002). Risk reconviction rates & pro-offending attitudes for child molesters in a complete geographical area of London, The Journal of Sexual Aggression, 8 (11),  Davidson, J (2006). Victims speak: comparing child sexual abusers & child victims accounts, perceptions & interpretations of sexual abuse. An international journal of evidence-based research, policy, & practice. 1,  Middleton, D. Elliott, I.A., Mandeville-Norden, R. & Beech, A,R, (2006). An investigation into the applicability of the Ward & Siegert pathways model of child sexual abuse with internet offenders, Psychology, Crime & Law, 12 (6)  Miller, L. (2013). Sexual offenses against children: patterns & motives. Aggression & Violent Behavior, 18,  Murphy, W.D. & McGrath, R. (2008). Best Practices in Sex Offender Treatment, Prison Service Journal, 178, 3-9.  Mark E. Olver, Stephen C.P. Wong (2013) Treatment programs for high risk sexual offenders: Program and offender characteristics, attrition, treatment change and recidivism. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18, 579–591  Ward, T. & Brown, M. (2004). The Good Lives Model & conceptual issues in offender rehabilitation. Psychology, Crime & Law, 10 (3),


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