Multiple Indicators of Sexual Interest in Prepubescent or Pubescent Children as Predictors of Sexual Recidivism

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Abstract

Objective: Sexual interest in children is a well-known risk factor for sexual reoffending (recidivism). The present study examined the relationship between sexual interest in prepubescent children (pedophilia) or pubescent children (hebephilia) and sexual recidivism. It extended previous work by using multiple indicators of sexual interest, using a more sensitive phallometric procedure that measures change in penile blood volume, and examining both hebephilia alongside pedophilia, as well as noncontact sexual recidivism. Method: Six hundred fifty-six men who had committed a sexual offense underwent a comprehensive sexological assessment that included multiple sexual interest measures: volumetric phallometry, self-report, and sexual behavior. Criminal record data were acquired to examine recidivism. Offenders were followed for an average of 10 years of opportunity. Results: Indicators of hebephilia and pedophilia were significantly associated with noncontact sexual recidivism, but inconsistently associated with contact recidivism. The relationship with phallometrically assessed pedophilia and contact sexual recidivism was significant after controlling for offender age statistically. Phallometrically assessed sexual arousal to children did not add to risk appraised by an actuarial measure. Conclusion: Both hebephilia and pedophilia were predictive of noncontact sexual recidivism. The results for contact sexual recidivism are discussed, including a potential confound in previous work on the assessment of sexual interest in children.

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