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Sex Abuse. 2018 Oct;30(7):869-882. doi: 10.1177/1079063217729158. Epub 2017 Sep 5.

An Opportunity View of Child Sexual Offending: Investigating Nonpersuasion and Circumstances of Offending Through Criminological Lens.

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1 Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.
2 Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada.


The empirical evidence indicating that sexual offenders against children manipulate their victims to participate in sexual activities dominates the literature on sex offenders and their modus operandi. However, recent evidence suggests that a high proportion of these offenders do not try to persuade their victims for sexual contact in the first place by using coercion or manipulation but simply assault them when an opportunity arises. Using self-reported data from a sample of incarcerated adult sexual offenders against children, we investigate whether sexual offenses against children committed by the use of nonpersuasion are characterized by little planning and by offense features that are indicative of opportunistic offending. We also examine the interaction between the type of offending strategy and the context of abuse. Findings reveal that offenders using nonpersuasion do not seek out potential victims, but rather seize an opportunity to offend. The type of offending strategy also interacts with the context of abuse for most preoffense and offense variables. These interactions are informative of the conditions favoring opportunistic sex offending against children.


child sexual abuse; context of abuse; criminal opportunity; offender modus operandi; sex offenses


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