Do child victims of sexual abuse become sex offenders?

 

IMG_0503In JAMA Pediatrics, NIJ-funded researcher Dr. Cathy Widom discusses findings of a longitudinal study following 908 abused and neglected children and a matched control group into middle age. The study examined commonly held beliefs about the consequences of childhood sexual abuse and the likelihood that these child victims will grow up to “specialize” in sex offending, that is, commit only that one type of offense.

Results showed that while physically abused and neglected boys had an increased risk of being arrested for a sex crime as an adult, compared to controls, sexually abused children of both genders were not at unique risk to be arrested for a sex crime.

The study also found that most individuals arrested for a sex crime had arrests for other types of offenses, suggesting that sex offenses are part of a larger pattern of violent and antisocial behavior and not a specialization.

Read the article abstract.

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