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NCJ Number: 190802 Find in a Library
Title: Child Sexual Abuse: Offender Characteristics and Modus Operandi
Author(s): Stephen W. Smallbone; Richard K. Wortley
Corporate Author: Australian Institute of Criminology
Date Published: February 2001
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Publication Number: ISBN 0-642-24211-9
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This paper reports on the methodology and findings of an Australian study that examined the characteristics and modus operandi of offenders who sexually abuse children.
Abstract: Adult males currently serving sentences in Queensland (Australia) for sexual offenses against children were approached individually and invited to participate in the study. A total of 182 offenders agreed to complete anonymously a 386-item self-report questionnaire developed largely from Kaufman's (1989) modus operandi questionnaire. Study findings reinforced what had been learned from other similar studies, i.e., that child sexual abuse overwhelmingly involved perpetrators who are related to or known to the victim. Even when the victim was not related to or living with the offender, in most cases the parents knew that their child was spending time with the perpetrator. The study also found that the strategies used by offenders to gain the compliance of children more often involved giving gifts, lavishing attention, and attempting to form emotional bonds, rather than making threats or using physical coercion. Many sexual encounters with children were preceded by some form of nonsexual physical contact. Serial child sexual offending was found to be relatively uncommon. Further, perpetrators of child sexual abuse were found to be three times more likely to abuse female than male children. Finally, child sexual offenders were found to be involved in a number of other forms of criminal behavior. Two-thirds of the study participants had previous convictions, and these were twice as likely to be for nonsexual offenses as for sexual offenses; therefore, many child sexual offenses may be extensions of more general antisocial patterns of behavior, perhaps involving opportunism, the exploitation of interpersonal relationships, or the disregard of socially accepted codes of behavior. Such a reconceptualization of child sexual offending would allow a considerable body of knowledge from the broader crime-prevention and offender-treatment literatures to be brought to bear on sexual offending against children. 2 tables and 10 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child molesters; Child Sexual Abuse; Criminal methods; Foreign criminal justice research; Sex offender profiles; Sex offenders; Victim-offender relationships
Note: Australian Institute of Criminology Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No. 193, February 2001; downloaded October 8, 2001.
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