Circumstantial and preferential

Brown, Kevin; Jun 26 2007
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The following article I wrote in 2005 addresses your question peripherally. It is released under terms of the GNU copyleft agreement v 2.0.

Rate of incidence of committing the act of child molestation within the heterosexual/homosexual adult male population and the pedophilic adult male population

Kenneth Lanning, a retired FBI specialist in the field of child sexual abuse investigations, has published a number of papers over his long career to assist law enforcement officers in understanding the problem of CSA.

Mr. Lanning draws a clear distinction between "Preferential Molestors", those individuals who in addition to having molested a child also possess a sexual attraction to minors, and "Situational Child Molestors", who do not. [*1]

  • [*1] Kenneth Lanning (1981). Child Molestors, A Behavioral Analysis For Law Enforcement Officers Investigating Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation

It has been routine practice for an extended period of time to determine an offender's sexual interest in children by intake and penile plythysmograph testing as defendants guilty of the crime of child molestation are routinely sentenced differently based on their sexual orientation. "Pedophilia" is a mitigating circumstance and frequently brings life imprisonment for commission of that crime.

There are two published estimates of what percentage of the total population of sex offenders fall into the "Preferential" and "Situational" categories. The FBI's Mr. Lanning stated that the proportion is 10% Preferential / 90% Situational.[*2]

  • [*2] Kenneth Lanning (1981). Child Molestors, A Behavioral Analysis For Law Enforcement Officers Investigating Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation

The Australian Government reported a study with the intent of adequately understanding the risk of organized pedophile criminal activity that showed a proportion of 15% Preferential / 85% Situational.[*3]

  • 3 Organized Criminal Pedophile Activity, The Parliament of Australia

There is a measurable rate of pedophilia in the male general population and it is problematic to determine. In testing utilizing penile plythysmograph monitoring, a large percentage of men experience some arousal to children when presented with audio stimuli. A study utilizing a college-student population found this number to be 26.25%.[*4]

Twenty percent self-reported that they had experienced sexual thoughts about children in their lives. The American Psychological Association's definition of pedophilia in the DSM IV requires a "sustained interest for six months in duration or longer". The before-mentioned study on a male college-student population found the rate of pedophilia to be 3.75%.

One study is certainly not definitive but is useful as a starting point. There is too little known about female pedophiles to attempt to draw any conclusions about that population. The calculations below use 85% / 15% for the number of child sex offences committed by "Situational" and "Preferential" molestors; 225,000 as the annual US incidence of child sexual abuse cases reported to CPS agencies nationwide; 132,000,000 as the male American population aged sixteen or over (fitting the DSM criteria for pedophilia); and 3.75% as the rate of pedophilia in that population of adult males.

Heterosexual/homosexual men
Rate of Incidence.........1.5 per 1,000 annually

Pedophilic men
Rate of Incidence.........6.75 per 1,000 annually

This rate is applicable only to the commission of crimes which have been recognized, and it is known that there is significant underreporting. The variance between the two populations is likely narrower because nearly all cases of incest are committed by the population of heterosexual men in the US and these are the cases with the greatest elements of coercion and hesitancy to report on the part of victims.

The increased risk of the commission of the crime of child molestation among the population of pedophilic men is exceedingly small. Heterosexual men are as great a danger to children as pedophilic men in terms of the likelihood that they will commit the crime of child molestation.