Forensic Psychology

Specific Forms of Crimes

Are there different types of child molesters?

All professionals who work with child molesters are struck by the variety within this population. There is clearly no one type of child molester. In a 2008 article, Robert Prentky, Raymond Knight, and Austen Lee proposed several subtypes of child molesters, based on their own clinical experience and the research literature. The most important distinction is between fixated and regressed child molesters. Fixated child molesters have a long-standing sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. They have a higher rate of reoffending, show greater sexual arousal to pedophilic stimuli, and have a much larger number of victims than other types of child molesters.

Regressed child molesters are not primarily pedophilic, but turn to children for sit-uational reasons. They might have impulse control problems, poor social skills, psychopathic tendencies, or a substance abuse disorder. A second dimension involves social competence. Some child molesters turn to children because they have inadequate social skills to engage with adults. Together, this results in four categories: high fixation/low social competence; high fixation/high social competence; low fixation/low social competence; and low fixation/high social competence. Child molesters are then further differentiated according to the amount of contact, physical injury, and sadism involved.


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