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Edited by Richard Wortley and Stephen Smallbone
Explanations of sexual offending against children have traditionally focused on the intrapsychic forces that are assumed to drive the offender's deviant behavior. The situational crime prevention perspective, on the other hand, examines the immediate behavioral setting to identify factors that encourage or permit sexual abuse. Empirical evidence increasingly indicates that sexual offenses against children are significantly mediated by opportunities and other environmental conditions. It is argued in this chapter that the primary prevention of the sexual abuse of children may be effected by systematically identifying and altering these problematic environmental elements.
Although child molestation, as with other human behavior, is widely recognized as a product of the interaction of individual dispositions and immediate situations, theoretical and empirical research has tended to concentrate more or less exclusively on the dispositional features of child molesters. While research has identified some reasonably stable features of child molesters, it is our lack of knowledge concerning situational and transitory influences that limits our capacity to understand, prevent, and treat child molesters. In this chapter, we present an overview of current clinical evidence for the role of stable and transitory dispositions, and of situational factors, in child molestation.
Legislation targeting sex offenders was enacted in the U.S. during 1980s and 1990s with the goal of prevent ing child molestations. These sex offender policies generally aim to prevent sex crimes by focusing on some aspect of the offender, and they range from offender registration with the police to participation in sex offender treatment. In contrast, sit national crime prevention (SCP) methods bypass offender-focused approaches, emphasizing modification ofsituational factors that, initiate or facilitate the commission of crimes. This chapter makes suggestions for legislation, prevention, and investigation of child molestation based on empirical data that compare sex crimes with three other violent felonies. Findings indicate that: most sex crimes involve child victims; sex crime rates are comparable to rates of other violent crimes; sex crimes are rarely perpetrated by strangers; most male sex crime victims are victimized under the age of 12; most female sex crime victims are victimized during and after puberty; sex crimes have a decreased probability of arrest compared to other violent crimes; and sex crimes committed by family members and acquaintances have a decreased probability of arrest compared to sex crimes committed by strangers. Implications of the findings for legislation, prevention, and investigation are explored.
Situational crime prevention focuses on the reduction of opportunities to engage in criminal behavior, and has been successfully applied to prevent general crimes (Clarke, 1995). While this model seems to offer promise, an attempt has not yet been undertaken to apply the model to preventing child sexual abuse. The purpose of this chapter is to outline the development of a situational prevention model to enhance our understanding of child sexual abuse risks and potential prevention approaches. The chapter begins with a discussion of the historical context underlying the child sexual abuse prevention movement, and then summarizes the empirical literature on sexual offenders' modus operandi (i.e., patterns of perpetration) as a foundation for model development. Details are provided to describe the proposed model and its components. Prevention strategies are presented to address the various risks related to model components, and directions for future research and programming are discussed.
Crime opportunity theorists argue that offender convergence settings rather than criminal groupings provide structure and continuity for offenders seeking like-minded offenders. A convenience sample of offenders violating ageof- consent prohibitions was asked about their interactions with other companions sharing similar dispositions. Self-reported interactions among this subset of sexual offenders were not conducted for the primary purpose of obtaining direct assistance (finding accomplices, for example). For socially isolated pedophiles, the search for "human companionship'' was a salient concern, and Internet technology provided a virtual solution to the absence of physical convergence settings. Urban gay villages, on the other hand, have provided a convenient niche for male adolescent prostitution markets. Indeed, interactions among hebephiles interviewed in this study were mainly steered or instigated by male adolescent hustlers searching for provider's.In both cases opportunities for interactions among age-of-consent offenders have expanded, and this could partly explain the aggregate increase in reported sex offences. Viewing sex offenders as "social isolates" is thus misleading. The paper argues instead that these convergence settings are best understood as social arrangements originating in a cultural emphasis on self-fulfillment and authenticity.
This paper addresses the issue of Internet crimes against children expressed through the viewing, trade, distribution and production of abuse images of children. It develops an approach to understanding this problem drawing on the rational choice perspective (Cornish and Clarke 1986), and develops a situational or contextual model of the process of engagement with abuse images, emphasizing searching as the rate-limiting factor. It further seeks to explore links between the rational choice model and a related cognitive-behavioral model of offending, followed by a discussion of the applications of this to abuse images and the Internet. The concepts of search, pre-criminal situations and opportunities are emphasis ed as having particular relevance for understanding Internet crimes against children. Whilst the discussion focuses on this relatively narrow area, the issues raised have a broader relevance to understanding how notions derived from rational choice theories might apply to criminal activity involving the Internet, and the new communication technologies more generally.
Child sex offenders with an intellectual disability (ID sex offenders) have historically been treated far differently from other sex offenders. Due to their lower levels of intellectual functioning they have, for example, been viewed as being more dangerous than other sex offenders. The path to initial conviction of the ID sex offender has typically been characterized by a continuing denial and minimization of their evolving "inappropriate" behaviors, or has in other cases led to an over-reaction, resulting in the implementation of harsh restrictive practices that further entrench the initial behavior. The treatment approach that has been developed at the Statewide Forensic Service (SFS) located in Fairfield, an inner northern suburb in Melbourne, not only involves modified cognitive behavioral, skills-based and whole-of-life programs, butt also places a strong emphasis on the environmental management of this client group. Factors such as the training of carers and significant others in relation to the observation of client behaviors in the community, and the subsequent redirection of offender behavior, play an integral role in the treatment process. A comprehensive awareness of these factors and subsequent appropriate action by carers and/or significant others would be a significant crime prevention approach in this population.
The focus of this chapter is the relationship between situational risk in sex offenders and the "good lives" model of rehabilitation. It briefly reviews situational theories of offending and the risk management approach to sexual offending. It acknowledges that standard rehabilitation and treatment approaches to sexual offenders concentrate on changing internal implicit theories and controlling external situational conditions related to their offending behavior. It suggests that the treatment of sexual offenders places too much emphasis on avoidance goals and seeking a range of primary negative goods in their environment, and argues that rehabilitation involves more than accepting environmental influences. A balance must be achieved between risk management and need fulfillment to ensure that approach goals and primary goods are more effective. It goes on to propose a good lives model" for the treatment of sexual offenders in which individuals might be equipped with the necessary internal and external conditions to secure primary human goods in adaptive ways to reduce their situational risk of offending.
The aim of the present study was to determine whether offenders who adopted a manipulative or a coercive strategy to involve their victim in sexual activity could be distinguished from those who used a non-persuasive strategy. Four categories of factors were considered: 1. Offender characteristics; 2. Characteristics of the criminal activity of the offender; 3. Victim characteristics; and, 4. Situational factors. Two hundred and twenty-six subjects who had sexually abused at least one child of 13 years old or younger were included in this study. Data were obtained from a semi-structured interview conducted with the offenders, and from official sources of information, such as police reports and victim statements. The results of polytomous logistic regressions suggest that prior offending achievement, victim age and the presence of deviant sexual fantasies 48 hours before the crime are related to the adoption of a manipulative strategy. Implications of these results for the elaboration of prevention measures are discussed.