Recidivism of child molesters: a study of victim relationship with the perpetrator
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OBJECTIVE: To compare the rates among of recidivism or re-offense among convicted child molesters who offend against biological children, stepchildren, and relationships where the child is an extended family member, acquaintance or stranger to the victim. METHOD: Four hundred male subjects 18 years of age or older and at least 5 years older than the victim at the time of the index offense, were convicted of a hands on sexual offense against one or more children under the age of 16. Subjects were grouped into five categories according to the type of relationship the perpetrator had with the victim. The subjects records of criminal arrests and convictions was obtained from the national Royal Canadian Mounted Police data. Subjects were then followed-up for a period of up to 15 years after conviction when they were at risk to re-offend in the community. Survival outcome data after the index sexual offense was collected for all new sexual, violent, and any criminal offenses. RESULTS: A larger proportion of men ( 16.2%) who sexually offended against children who were acquaintances, were charged with a new sexual offense than men who sexually offended against biological (4.8%) or their stepchildren (5.1%). The percentage of men who were subsequently charged with any type of criminal offense and who offended against their biological children (19%) was smaller than men who offended against children where the relationship is an extended family member (40%), acquaintances (35.9%) or strangers (45.2%). CONCLUSIONS: When comparing the different categories of relationship the victim had with the perpetrator, the category of stranger has been highlighted as a group with a higher risk for re-offense. Our results have shown that comparatively, the risk of acquaintance group is a significantly higher risk category than was previously thought. Although professionals are principally concerned with sexual recidivism, general criminality appears to present in relatively large proportions of all child molesters with the stranger group at the highest risk level. While no single factor will predict recidivism in itself, the importance of defining the relationship between the perpetrator and victim is evident from this study.
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