Does Victim Age Differentiate Between Perpetrators of Sexual Child Abuse? A Study of Mental Health, Psychosocial Circumstances, and Crimes

Anita Carlstedt, Thomas Nilsson, Björn Hofvander, Agneta Brimse, Sune Innala, Henrik Anckarsäter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (SciVal)

    Abstract

    To test the theory that sexual offenders who abuse very young children (0-5 years) have more severe mental health and psychosocial problems than those who victimize older children, authors compared psychiatric diagnoses, social circumstances, and crime-related data in all sexual offenders against minors referred to forensic psychiatric investigation in Sweden during a 5-year period. Thirty-one men had committed index crimes involving victims between the ages of 0 and 5 years (Group 1), 90 had 6- to 11-year-old victims (Group 2), and 41 had 12- to 15-year-old victims (Group 3). All three offender groups were characterized by severe mental health problems, in many cases fulfilling American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) criteria for both Axis I and Axis II diagnoses, but these problems did not differ between groups. Neither did social situation or sexual orientation. Offenders with 0- to 5-year-old victims significantly more often abused both boys and girls. Frequencies of retrospectively diagnosed childhood-onset behavior disorders were high in all three offender groups. The authors' data did not support previous findings of increasingly severe mental health problems with decreasing victim age.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)442-454
    JournalSexual Abuse
    Volume21
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Subject classification (UKÄ)

    • Psychiatry

    Keywords

    • childhood-onset behavior
    • psychiatry
    • sexual child abuse
    • victim age
    • gender crossover
    • disorders

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