Few abuse victims become paedophiles
The study challenges perceptions about sexual abuse
7 February 2003, BBC News
Most men who were sexually abused as boys do not go on to abuse children themselves, a study suggests. Researchers at the Institute of Child Health in London have found evidence to suggest that just one in eight continues the cycle of abuse.
They said the finding indicate that the risks of victims becoming abusers is much less than previously thought.
The risk of childhood victims of sexual abusers becoming abusers themselves is lower than previously thought.
Researchers found that other factors play an important role in determining who is most likely to go on to abuse.
Professor David Skuse and colleagues identified 224 men who had been sexually abused as children.
They examined their medical and social services notes and also any criminal record files.
They found that 26 of the 224 former victims went on to commit sexual offences.
In almost all cases, these involved children outside their family. The average age at which they began to abuse others was 14.
The researchers discovered that a number of key factors appeared to increase the chances of a former victim becoming an abuser:
This compares to just one in 20 of victims who did not go on to abuse children themselves.
Writing in The Lancet, the researchers said:
They suggested that the findings could be used to develop new treatments for victims of child abuse to prevent them becoming abusers.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Paul Bouvier from Service de Sante de la Jeunesse - a child protection agency in Geneva, called for further research to examine why some victims did not become abusers.