Fast Facts About Child Sexual Abuse
Fact 1: Children tend to know the person who abused them.
Most people who molest children know their victims and abuse from a position of trust or power. Abusers can include family members, trusted family friends, babysitters, coaches, teachers, ministers, and others who work with children. Stranger-on-stranger child molestation is extremely rare.
Fact 2: There is no “typical” child abuser.
There is no typical profile of someone who commits sexual abuse. People who sexually offend cross all socioeconomic, educational, gender, age, and cultural lines. Although most individuals who sexually abuse children are male, 5-10% are female. Adolescents account for approximately 35% of all sexual offenses against minors.
Fact 3: Children who have been sexually abused may display behavioral changes.
Children who have been sexually assaulted may act out sexually with other children and display unusual interest in genitals. Younger children may display anxiety, depression, anger, and bedwetting. Older children may display withdrawal, depression, and anger, and may engage in substance abuse and self-harm such as cutting.
Fact 4: Children can recover, with the right help.
Children and teens who have been sexually abused need to receive acknowledgment and treatment immediately and for as long as they need it. It is not true that all children who have been sexually abused will go on to abuse others, but without treatment, there is a higher likelihood this may happen, as well as a higher likelihood that the child will suffer long-term depression and other negative consequences.
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The following citations reflect research, publications, and presentations by current ATSA members.
- Clinical characteristics associated with paedophilia and child sex offending: Differentiating sexual preference from offence status: Gerwinn, Weiss, Tenbergen, Amelung, Fodisch, Pohl, Massau, Kneer, Mohnke, Kargel, Wittfoth, Jung, Drumkova, Schiltz, Walter, Beier, Walter, Ponseti, Schiffer, & Kruger (2018)
- Diminished fronto-limbic functional connectivity in child sexual offenders: Kneer, Borchardt, Kargel, Sinke, Massau, Tenbergen, Ponseti, Walter, Beier, Schiffer, Schiltz, Walter, & Kruger (2018)
- Legal decision-making in child sexual abuse investigations: A mixed-methods study of factors that influence prosecution: Duron (2018)
- An opportunity view of child sexual offending: Investigating nonpersuasion and circumstances of offending through a criminological lens: Leclerc & Proulx (2017)
- Desistance from sexual and other violent offending among child sexual abusers: Observations using the Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS): Lasher & McGrath (2017)
- The influence of intelligence, cortical thickness, surface area, and white matter connectivity on child sexual abuse behavior by pedophiles: Lett, Mohnke Amelung, Brandl, Schiltz, Pohl, Gerwinn, Kargel, Massau, Tenbergen, Wittfoth, Kneer, Beier, Walter, Ponseti, Kruger, Schiffer, & Walter (2017)
- Child molestation and psychopathy: A taxometric analysis: Walters, Knight, Looman, & Abracen (2016)
- The puzzle of intrafamilial child sexual abuse: A meta-analysis comparing intrafamilial and extrafamilial offenders with child victims: Seto, Babchishin, Pullman, & McPhail (2015)
- Anxious attachment, social isolation, and indicators of sex drive and compulsivity: Predictors of child sexual abuse perpetration in adolescent males?: Miner, Romine, Robinson, Berg, & Knight (2014)
- Are child abusers sexually attracted to submissiveness? Assessment of sex-related cognition with the Implicit Association Test: Kanters, Hornsveld, Nunes, Huijding, Zwets, Snowden, Muris & van Marle (2014)
- Prioritizing child pornography notifications: Predicting direct victimization: Smid, Schepers, Kamphuis, van Linden, & Bartling (2014)
- The socially skilled child molester: Differentiating the guilty from the falsely accused: Van Dam (2014)
- Emotional congruence with children and sexual offending against children: A meta-analytic review: McPhail, Hermann, & Nunes (2013)
- A theoretical framework for understanding deviant sexual interest and cognitive distortions as overlapping constructs contributing to sexual offending against children: O Ciardha (2011)
- Intimacy deficits and attribution of blame among sex offenders: Garlick, Marshall, & Thornton (2011)
- Misperceptions about child sex offenders: Richards (2011)
- The cognitive distortions of child molesters are in need of treatment: O Ciardha & Gannon (2011)
- How safe are trick-or-treaters? An analysis of child sex crime rates on Halloween: Chaffin, Levenson, Letourneau, & Stern (2009)
- Sexual grooming of children: Review of literature and theoretical considerations: Craven, Brown, & Gilchrist (2007)
- Identification of five fundamental implicit theories underlying cognitive distortions in child abusers: A preliminary study: Marziano, Ward, Beech, & Pattison (2006)
- A comparison of incest offenders based on victim age: Firestone, Dixon, Nunes, & Bradford (2005)
- Distorted attitudes and perceptions, and their relationship with self-esteem and coping in child molesters: Marshall, Marshall, Sachdev, & Kruger (2003)
- Toward a comprehensive theory of child sexual abuse: A theory knitting perspective: Ward & Siegert (2002)
- A brief screening scale to identify pedophilic interests among child molesters: Seto & Lalumiere (2001)
- Childhood attachments, sexual abuse, and their relationship to adult coping in child molesters: Marshall, Serran, & Cortoni (2000)
- Motivated self-deception in child molesters: Wright & Schneider (1999)
- Victim to abuser: Mental health and behavioral sequels of child sexual abuse in a community survey of young adult males: Bagley, Wood, & Young (1994)
- Emotional congruence in sexual offenders against children: Wilson (1991)
- Child molesters' implicit theories: Ward & Keenan (1999)
- Self-esteem and coping strategies in child molesters: Marchall, Cripps, Anderson, & Cortoni (1999)
- The differentiation of intrafamilial and extrafamilial heterosexual child molesters: (Barsetti, Earls, Lalumiere, & Belanger (1998)
- Assessing the cognitive distortions of child molesters and rapists: Development and validation of the MOLEST and RAPE scales: Bumby (1996)
- Sexual fantasies of child molesters: Looman (1995)
- Assessing child sexual offenders' modus operandi: Accuracy in self-reported use of threats and coercion: Kaufman, Hilliker, Lathrop, & Daleiden (1993)
- Cognitive distortions among child sex offenders: Neidigh & Krop (1992)
- Profiling child sexual abusers: Murphy & Peters (1992)
- The coping strategies of child sexual abusers: Neidigh & Tomiko (1991)