Paedophiles and Sexual Offences against Children

Dennis Howitt

Loughborough University, UK

John Wiley & Sons
[Out of sale]

Table of contents

About the Author  vii
Series Preface  ix
Acknowledgements  xi
1. Introducing the Paedophile 1
2. What is Different about Child Abusers? 33
3. What Paedophiles Think and Do  73
4. Qualms over Technical Assessments  103
5. Theories of Paedophilia 129
6. Paedophilia and Fantasy  159
7. The Treatment of Paedophiles  189
8. The Future of Paedophilia 229
 References 253
Author Index 275
Subject Index  281


About the Author

Dennis Howitt is Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. Formerly he was Research Officer at Leicester University's Centre for Mass Communication Research. He has a long-standing research interest in applying psychology to social issues and has written a number of books in this area, including the Home Office published report Pornography: Impacts and Influences (1990) and Child Abuse Errors: When Good Intentions Go Wrong (1992), which dealt with the mistakes of professionals in child protection work.

Series Preface

The Wiley Series in the Psychology of Crime, Policing and Law will publish concise and integrative reviews in this important, emerging area of contemporary research. The purpose of the series is not merely to present research findings in a clear and readable form, but also to bring out their implications for both practice and policy. In this way it is hoped that the series will not only be useful to psychologists but also to all those concerned with crime detection and prevention, policing, and the judicial process.

If one wished to pick a topic on which everyone has a view tinged with a strong emotional overtone, there is little doubt that sexual offences against children would rightly figure high on the list.

Alongside much media coverage, the topic of child sexual abuse has attracted the attention of many academic' disciplines -- including criminology, psychology , and sociology -- while being of direct concern to many practitioners-including social workers, probation officers, forensic and clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, police, and forensic nurses. With so many vested interests and concerns it is perhaps inevitable that a myriad of different views, even myths, have been constructed about the perpetrators of sexual offences against children.

It is all too easy to lose sight of the fact that many of our views on the perpetrators of sexual offences are based on anecdote and theoretical speculation, rather than research evidence. The drift from myth and stereotype to socially constructed reality is easy to make but often difficult to question.

Those who query orthodox beliefs face a difficult task as their questions can raise many anxieties. Awkward questions can cast doubts over academic research and theories; can cause policy makers and practitioners to wonder about their role; and make educators worry about the messages they pass on to their students.

Dennis Howitt has a fine history of asking awkward questions about sensitive topics that other might well prefer to avoid. His review, with Guy Cumberbatch, of the effects of pornography contributed significantly to that debate.

Moreover, he has published regularly on institutional racism, generating a fierce controversy within the British Psychological Society. His book, Child Abuse Errors: When Good Intentions Go Wrong, took a long, hard look at the world of child protection; asking fundamental questions about policy, research, and practice.

With a trenchant discussion of paedophilia, this book continues his tradition of tackling the hard issues. In an across-the-board sweep of theory, research, and practice, Howitt simply refuses to accept the core assumptions and methods that are often "taken as given" by workers in this difficult and demanding field.

It is certain that some of what Howitt has to say will generate controversy, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will agree with everything he has to say. If that is the case, as we suspect that it will be, then, in our view, this text will have helped to achieve the aim of this series in generating constructive debate. A truly useful contribution to knowledge should make us pause, and look, and consider, and question: academics and practitioners alike should read on with interest and perhaps a little trepidation.



I am grateful to Peter Beaman for some of the transcriptions, Guy Cumberbatch for ideas and some interviews and Rosalie Shute for checking the manuscript and ideas. Ray Wyre and Charles Forte in the UK and Leo Cotter and Sharon McAvoy in the USA were of enormous help in providing offenders for the research.