Examining Subtypes of Sex Offenders

A very interesting study has recently been published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, discussing the various subtypes of sexual offenders and their corresponding personalities.

A distinction was made between four groups: paedophilic offenders, non-paedophilic offenders, rapists and a control group of non-sexual offenders.

What is a non-paedophilic offender?

It might sound like an oxymoron, considering that we’re discussing people who commit sexual crimes against children, but a distinction is made in the literature between those who claim to be attracted to children (paedophilic offenders) and those who claim to be attracted predominantly to adults, but who have committed sexual crimes against children. This latter subset are defined as ‘non-paedophilic’, due to the root words from which the term ‘paedophile’ is taken meaning ‘love of children’.

The study

The study aimed to look at different personality types of offenders, with a view to enabling social services and the justice system to provide useful intervention for the people who commit these crimes.

164 male convicted offenders were assessed, of whom 50 were rapists, 20 were paedophilic child molesters, 43 were non-paedophilic child molesters, and 51 were non-sexual offenders.

Four questionnaires were given to each participant: the Adult Attachment Scale, which measures a person’s levels of security, anxiety and avoidance; the Interpersonal Behaviour Survey, which distinguishes between assertive and aggressive behaviours and provides a scale for each; the Brief Symptom Inventory, which provides a brief assessment for psychological problems; and the Socially Desirable Response Set Measure, which evaluates a person’s tendency to give what they perceive to be socially desirable responses, rather than an accurate response.

The results

The results showed distinct differences between each group of offenders.

Paedophilic offenders were more likely to present anxiety in adult relationships than non-paedophilic offenders.

Non-paedophilic offenders were less aggressive compared to rapists and non-sexual offenders, and were less assertive than rapists.

Rapists were the group that scored the highest on aggression.

Further research is required – the group of paedophilic offenders in particular was quite small in comparison to the other groups studied – but the study seems to indicate that different types of offenders have different personality profiles, and therefore any interventions ought to be conducted in different ways depending on the type of offense committed.

The full study can be found in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine via ScienceDirect.

What Effects Does Child Sexual Abuse Have On Adult Life?

15301376636_8ace6d2f1eThe title of this post is quite broad, and so is the study we’re discussing. It’s an ambitious task: to look at a broad array of adult roles and see which ones are the most likely to be affected by historic child sexual abuse, and what the effects are.

The research was conducted through a literature review of studies published since 1980. De Jong et al looked at the fulfilment of adult roles such as marriage, employment and parenting, with a focus on whether – and to what extent – a history of sexual abuse had an effect on people’s psychological and physical functioning in these roles.

Perhaps surprisingly, the results were not entirely straightforward. The attainment of the roles per se wasn’t significantly affected by the abuse suffered in childhood; however, the quality of these adult roles was affected.

I’d be interested to read the full study, as I’d like to know how the researchers are defining ‘quality’, but it’s behind a paywall so unfortunately I can’t access it. I am intrigued though, and I think it’s certainly an interesting area of study – there’s no doubt that child sexual abuse has some effect on adulthood, but it’s interesting that it tends to affect the quality of life rather than its generic categories.

Apparently the most consistent findings showed a link between child sexual abuse and physical intimate partner violence in adulthood. In other words, people who were sexually abused as children are more likely to end up with a partner who abuses them physically. This isn’t entirely surprising and tallies with my own prior research, but I’d be interested in looking a bit more closely at this link and trying to get to the reasons behind it.

The study is published in Aggression and Violent Behaviour and will be available online from the 2nd of May 2015.

photo credit: Sometimes… via photopin (license)