Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Child Abuse Negl. 2002 Jan;26(1):73-92.

Developmental risk factors for sexual offending.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Australia.



The aim of the study was to identify the general, common, and specific developmental risk factors for pedophilia, exhibitionism, rape, and multiple paraphilia, and to address five methodological issues observed in this area of research.


This study involved 64 sex offenders and 33 nonsex, nondrug-related, and nonviolent property offenders. The group of 64 sex offenders was further divided into eight subgroups, some of which overlapped in memberships because of multiple diagnoses. To overcome the methodological problem associated with overlapping group memberships, a special approach involving comparisons of sets of logistic regression analyses was adopted. Offenders were clinically assessed for evidence of paraphilias, and their adverse childhood experiences were measured by a battery of tests.


Childhood Emotional Abuse and Family Dysfunction, Childhood Behavior Problems, and Childhood Sexual Abuse were found to be general developmental risk factors for paraphilias. Furthermore, Childhood Emotional Abuse and Family Dysfunction was found to be a common developmental risk factor for pedophilia, exhibitionism, rape, or multiple paraphilia. Additional analyses revealed that childhood emotional abuse contributed significantly as a common developmental risk factor compared to family dysfunction. Besides, Childhood Sexual Abuse was found to be a specific developmental risk factor for pedophilia.


The study has supported the value of conceptualizing certain childhood adversities as developmental risk factors for paraphilic behaviors. The role of childhood emotional abuse as an important developmental risk contributor, and the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and pedophilia are of theoretical significance. Furthermore, the results have significant implications for the prevention of childhood abuse and treatment of sex offenders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk