Research: Pedophiles in the criminal population

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If pedophilia is defined as a preferential orientation towards prepubescent children, it is incredibly rare in the population of "child sex offenders" (including all minors under the age of consent) and strikingly absent in many adult-prepubescent sex offenders. Most child sex offenders are motivated by opportunism and anti-social traits rather than a sexual preference for children.

  • Okami, P., & Goldberg, A. (1992). "Personality Correlates of Pedophilia: Are They Reliable Indicators?," Journal of Sex Research, 29(3), 297-328.
    ". . . most data suggest that only a relatively small portion of the population of incarcerated sexual offenders against minors consists of persons for whom minors (particularly children) represent the exclusive or even primary object of sexual interest or source of arousal (Freund, Watson, & Dickey, 1991; Gebhard et al., 1965; Howells, 1981; Lang et al., 1988; Langevin, 1983; McCormack & Selvaggio, 1989; Marshall, Babaree, & Butt, 1988; Marshall & Eccles, 1991; Mohr et al., 1964; Quinsey, Chaplin, & Carrigan, 1979; Righton, 1981; Rowan, 1988; Schofield, 1965; Swanson, 1968)."
  • World Health Organization (1986). "Child sexual abuse: report on a consultation, Copenhagen, 11-12 December 1985."
    "Some sex offences against children are committed by pedophiles, that is, persons who are sexually attracted to children rather than adults. Most child molestors, however, are not particularly attracted to children, but merely seeking sexual stimulation through encounters with children to compensate for a preferred, but unobtainable or inadequate (sexual) relationship with adults."
  • Lautmann, Rüdiger (1994). "Attraction to Children." Ingrid Klein Pubs. Inc., Hamburg. ISBN 3-89521-015-3.
    "This exhaustive and authoritative work is based on a three-tiered typology of offen[ders] against children, [the first type being] the true pedophile [who] has a general interest in social contact with children, including a sexual dimension. […] In this book I am concerned exclusively with the first type, which constitutes approximately 5% of all pedosexually active men."
  • Joint submission from the Northern Territory Government and Police, 9 March 1995, p. 4. Cited by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority.
    "Of [extrafamilial child sex offenders from 1990 to 1995], only ... 14.8% of the total ... had been identified as paedophiles or suspected paedophiles."
  • Wilson, Singer, & Dowd (2006). Handbook of Children, Culture, And Violence, p. 68.
    "Indeed, Howells (1981) maintains that "There is good reason to think that such persons [pedophiles] form a minority in the total population of people who become sexually involved with children" (p.76). Other researchers have come to a similar conclusion (Bromberg & Johnson, 2001; Mohr, Turner, & Jerry, 1964; Swanson, 1968)."
  • Seto, M. C., Cantor, J. M., & Blanchard, R. (2006). "Child pornography offenses are a valid diagnostic indicator of pedophilia," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 610-615.
    "The proportions of men in each of the nine study groups—two groups of child pornography offenders, three groups of offenders against children, three groups of offenders against adults, and one group of general sexology patients [who had no history of charges for child pornography or sexual offenses] —who met a diagnostic criterion for pedophilia used at the Kurt Freund Laboratory (pedophilic index greater than .25; Blanchard et al., 2001) are shown in Figure 1. There was a significant difference between groups in the proportions who met this diagnostic criterion: 61% of child pornography offenders, 35% of offenders with child victims, 13% of offenders with adult victims, and 22% of general sexology patients." According to the authors, the 35% figure may be inflated because study participants were referred due to clinical or legal concerns about their sexual interests or behavior, and the study included an inordinate number of people who had convictions for both child pornography and child molestation.
  • Kutchinsky, Berl (1973). "The effect of easy availability of pornography on the incidence of sex crimes: The Danish experience," Journal of Social Issues, 29(3), p. 178.
    "According to Gebhard et al. (1965), only one-fourth to one-third of the sexual offenders of girls examined were classified as pedophiles, and in about half of those cases "some degree of socio-sexual deprivation existed at the time of the offense, which may have triggered the behavior [p. 74]." Gebhard et al. further mention that "the term 'pedophile' is somewhat unfortunate since these men did not consciously prefer children as sexual partners, but simply found them acceptable [p. 74]." In other words, to the majority of sexual offenders against children the criminal interference with children was not a coveted goal in itself; rather it served as a poor substitute for a preferred, but unobtainable normal heterosexual experience. A number of other facts about the heterosexual offender of children (discussed by Gebhard et al., 1976) are relevant: [...] his masturbation fantasies are quite average, that is, he does not especially fantasize about children."
  • Frenzel, R. R., & Lang, R. A. (1989). "Identifying sexual preferences in intrafamilial and extrafamilial child sexual abusers," Annals of Sex Research, 2, 255-275.
    "Erotic preference profiles among child sexual abusers, both familial and nonfamilial, are heterogeneous. Some men prefer adult females, others exclusively a male or female child, while others exhibit a pan-gynephilic profile, in which any aged female apparently has a similar erotic valence. Precisely how many of these incestuous or nonincestuous men are 'true' pedophiles is uncertain; possibly as many as 1 in 4 (Langevin, & Lang, 1988), or as few as 1 in 10, as suggested by the present data."
  • Howells, K. (1981). "Adult sexual interest in children: Considerations relevant to theories of aetiology," in Cook, M. & Howells, K. (eds.), Adult sexual interest in children, London: Academic Press, pp. 55-94; as summarized on MHAMic.
    Some have a persistent sexual preference for children beginning in adolescence, while others have a preference for adults but act with children due to situational factors (e.g., marital problems, loss of wife, abuse of alcohol, or stress). Most theories focus on the former type since the latter type are really not pedophiles. However, most clinical and criminal studies find the latter type to be the majority of those who offend.
  • James, A. J. (2004). "Plethysmograph: a disputed device,", version of 12 April 2006.
    [The citation's use of "pedophile" is almost certainly in reference to offenders - NewgonWiki].
    "Bradford (1997) candidly reviews the problems in penile response in testing. He collected data from a group of 200 subjects, 100 of whom were admitted child molesters and 100 of which were volunteer "community control" subjects. Even using an admitted population of child molesters, Dr. Bradford's penile tumescence testing could only correctly classify 62% of the admitted homosexual child molesters and 52% of the admitted heterosexual child molesters. According to the report, twenty-five (25%) accuracy in classification would have been expected from mere chance. Other studies report that plethysmography has an even poorer accuracy record. Simon & Schouten cite a study (Wormith) in which 42% of the pedophiles were classified as having normal sexual preferences. Another study they cite (Barbaree and Marshall) found that only 35% of pedophiles demonstrated the "pure" child-preference profile (Simon 1993, at 508). See also McAnulty 1990. [...] For instance, according to Bradford (1997), only 40% of child molesters are classified as pedophiles (p. 213). Johnston (1997) notes one-third of the molesters in study identified as fixated and 2/3 as regressed.; Abel (1988) states that the majority of subjects in the study could become involved with adult partners; paraphilic and nonparaphilic behavior and coexisted in most subjects."
  • Levine, J. (2002). Harmful to Minors, p. 25-26
    "More important, sexual contact with a child does not a pedophile make. "The majority of reported acts of sexual abuse of children are not committed by pedophiles," but by men in relationships with adult women and men, said John Money, of Johns Hopkins, a preeminent expert on sexual abnormalities."