Forensic Psychology

Specific Forms of Crimes

What do we know about child molesters?

Perhaps because of the extremely damaging effects of child sexual abuse, forensic psychologists have put a fair amount of effort into studying sexual molesters of children. Child molesters tend to be older than other criminals and are probably not as impulsive, although there is likely a subset of highly impulsive child molesters. Most child molesters use bribery, manipulation, and seduction to access their victims, although a sizeable proportion use instrumental force, that is, only enough force to attain their goals. Although there is a small fraction of highly violent child molesters, the vast majority are not violent. While most child molesters are heterosexual males who molest girls, the men who molest boys tend to have far more victims, hundreds or thousands in some instances. In general, the majority of child molesters have only a few victims, while a small fraction with persistent pedophilic tendencies can molest hundreds or thousands of children over a lifetime.


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