Chapter 3 - Different Approaches ...

Here below: (1) Summary, (2) Some quotes


Different Approaches to Stuying Pedophilia

A promising approach to studying pedophilia is to use the Internet for participant
recruitment and/or data collection. This approach has the strength of providing
some assurance of anonymity, especially if combined with the use of technical
options that anonymize Internet protocol addresses, the use of free web-based email
accounts for communication, and file encryption. The main limitation of Internet
research is the possibility of self-report biases, because pedophilic respondents might
alter their reports of problems to present themselves in a socially desirable manner,
and anonymity precludes verifying the self-reports.

For example, Riegel (2OO4) found that 87% of his respondents reported that their
interest in mentoring a boy was equal or more important than their interest in sex.
This may be a true reflection of their interests, but these statements cannot be fully
accepted without speaking to the boys as well.

Another methodological limitation is that some respondents may not actually be
persons with pedophilia and may instead participate out of curiosity or mischief.
Nonetheless, researchers have opportunities to test hypotheses about pedophilia that
are less susceptible to socially desirable responding.

For example, as I discuss again in Chapter 5, Blanchard et al. (2003) demonstrated
that pedophilic sex offenders are significantly more likely than non-pedophilic sex
offenders to report having a head injury resulting in unconsciousness before the age
of 13 but not after the age of 13. It is unlikely that either reporting or denying a
childhood head injury is socially desirable, so a future study of self-identified
persons with pedophilia could be conducted to replicate this finding, which has
implications for the understanding of the etiology of pedophilia.

Whatever research approach is used, comparing the findings obtained from different
study groups is a productive strategy in identifying common and unique factors.
Garber and Hollon (1991) discussed how group comparisons of this kind can be very
informative. I discuss the results of group comparisons in the next two chapters, first
on the origins of sexual offending against children (by comparing sex offenders with
other offenders and then sex offenders against children with sex offenders against
adults) and then on the etiology of pedophilia (by comparing male persons with
pedophilia with other men).

Some Quotes from Chapter 3

Page 57 & 58
Most research on pedophilia has drawn on studies of men who have been charged or
convicted of sexual offenses involving children, usually contact sexual offenses.
Some research has been conducted on noncontact offenses as well, including
indecent exposure or voyeurism involving children, child pornography offenses, and
online sexual solicitations of minors.

The criminal justice population has received the most attention because of the
clinical and public interest in sexual offenses involving children.
The advantages to studying pedophilia in criminal justice samples are that

  • (a) the clinical and social needs mean more funding and institutional support for
  • (b) collateral information obtained by police and other authorities is available; and
  • (c) research on etiology, assessment, and intervention has applied value.

The disadvantages to studying pedophilia in criminal justice samples
include that

  • (a) the self-report bias is likely strongest with this group, given they are facingserious consequences, including sentencing, treatment, and release decisions; and
  • (b) only about half of the men who have committed contact sexual offenses
    involving children have pedophilia.

As I discuss further in the next chapter, non-pedophilic offenders against children
might seek sex with an non-preferred person because of a desire for sexual
gratification and an indifference to the possible harm to the child, disinhibition
because of substance use or cognitive impairment, opportunism, or a lack of other
sexual options because of their unattractiveness, lack of resources, or poor social

Men who have committed sexual offenses have, by definition, engaged in criminal
and antisocial behavior. They are likely to differ in meaningful ways from persons
with pedophilia who have not committed such offenses or who have committed
sexual offenses that have not yet been detected.

For example, one would expect pedophilic offenders who have been detected by
authorities to be more persistent (more offenses mean a greater likelihood of being
reported), more antisocial (to overcome any inhibitions they have against offending),
and possibly higher in sexual preoccupation than non-offending persons with
pedophilia or undetected offenders.

Page 59
It would be very valuable to have more research on self-identified persons with
pedophilia who were not seen in clinical or criminal justice settings. This research is
more feasible now thanks to online surveys that can protect participant anonymity
and confidentiality.

Page 80
Focusing on the phenomenology of pedophilia, evidence is converging regarding its
age of onset, stability over time, and role in orienting sexual, romantic and social

Page 81
These group differences [*]

  • [* i.e. between pedophilic/non-pedophilic, offending/non-offending, contact or non-contact cases – Ipce]

… have major implications for policies and practices, which can be misguided to the
extent that groups are confused with each other or combined.

For example, policies and practices that view all sex offenders against children as
having pedophilia will overestimate the risk posed by non-pedophilic sex offenders,
all other things being equal, and might require non-pedophilic sex offenders to
participate in interventions that do not make sense (e.g., aversive conditioning of
pedophilic sexual arousal, sex drive-reducing medication).

As a second example, child pornography offenders do not pose the same risk of
sexual recidivism as contact offenders, on average, so treating all child pornography
offenders as either undetected or soon-to-be-contact offenders misuses scarce

An unintended (and counterproductive) consequence of conflating pedophilia and
sexual offending against children is that the understandable fear and anger elicited
by men who commit sexual crimes against children is also directed at pedophilic or
hebephilic individuals who have never acted upon their sexual interest in children.

As I discuss in Chapter 9, the powerful stigma associated with pedophilia prevents
many from seeking support from their family or friends, and from seeking
professional help. As a result, pedophilic or hebephilic individuals who might not
offend if they received social and professional support are left to sink or swim, with
potentially terrible consequences for themselves, for victimized children, and their