Taken with thanks from Mental Health Matters .
Though there is no hard and fast profile of a pedophile, here are some general characteristics:
- Popular with both children and adults.
- Appears to be trustworthy and respectable. Has good standing in the community.
- Prefers the company of children. Feels more comfortable with children than adults. Is mainly attracted to prepubescent boys and girls. Can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
- “Grooms” children with quality time, video games, parties, candy, toys, gifts, money.
- Singles out children who seem troubled and in need of attention or affection.
- Often dates or marries women with children that are the age of his preferred victims.
- Rarely forces or coerces a child into sexual contact. Usually through trust and friendship. Physical contact is gradual, from touching, to picking up, to holding on lap, to kissing, etc.
- Derives gratification in a number of ways. For some, looking is enough. For others, taking pictures or watching children undress is enough. Still others require more contact.
- Finds different ways and places to be alone with children.
- Are primarily (but not always) male, masculine, better-educated, more religious than average, in their thirties, and choose jobs allowing them greater access to children.
- Are usually family men, have no criminal record, and deny that they abuse children, even after caught, convicted, incarcerated, and court-ordered into a sex offender program. The marriage is often troubled by sexual dysfunction, and serves as a smokescreen for the pedophile’s true preferences and practices.
- Are often, but not always, themselves victims of some form of childhood sexual abuse.
- Even if the pedophile has no children, his home is usually child-friendly, with toys, books, video games, computers, bikes, swing sets, skateboards, rec room, pool, snacks – things to attract children to his home and keep them coming back. Usually the items reflect the preferred age of his victims.
- A female pedophile usually abuses a child when partnered with an adult male pedophile, and is often herself a victim of chronic sexual abuse.
A pedophile can act independently, or be involved in an organized ring, including the Internet, NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association), and other pro-pedophilia groups.
Some pedophiles recognize that their behavior is criminal, immoral, and unacceptable by society, and operate in secrecy.
Some are quite open and militant about their practices and advocate the normalization of pedophilia under the guise of freedom of speech and press, and uses innocuous language like “intergenerational intimacy.”
Pedo means “child” in Greek. Phile is a derivative of Greek, Latin, and French, meaning “love.”
The Exclusive type of pedophile is attracted to children only. The Non-Exclusive is attracted to both children and adults.
A pedophile will not stop on his own, and will not turn himself in, because he does not take responsibility for his behavior and denies that he’s doing anything harmful. He will abuse until he’s caught.
A child not always recognizes when he or she is being abused, manipulated, or groomed by a pedophile. Unless the pedophile is a sexual sadist, he does not have to threaten a child into silence. The trust, gifts, secrecy, and “relationship” are enough.
In some cases, the abuser will coerce the child into silence by saying that if anyone finds out, he would go to jail, or the child would, and maybe the child’s parents. In other cases, threats to harm the child, pets, and family are used.
Pedophiles can be “treated” but never cured, because their sexual preference has always been, and always will be, children. Their urges will always be present. Therefore, treatment focuses on changing, curbing, or re-directing the acting-out behaviors of pedophiles.
Knowing the profile of a pedophile, does this mean that the little league coach who has a great rapport with kids and treats them to pizza at his house is suspect? Or that the teacher who throws pool parties is? Of course not.
The majority of people who like and work with children are not pedophiles. It does mean that we should be observant of all the adults in our children’s lives, whether they wear a white collar, a blue collar, or a clerical collar.
Cleo’s Note: After having researched the British pedophile ring of Colin Blanchard, Vanessa George, Angela Allen, Tracy Lyons and Tracy Dawber, I thought it might prove interesting and informative to include research findings about female pedophiles. They are far more prevalent that I had previously thought, and do as much damage to their victims as do male pedophiles.
From the Health Canada report of 1996
The Invisible Boy: Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens
As recently as 10 years ago, it was a common assumption that females did not or could not sexually abuse children or youth. Even some professionals working in the field believed that women represented only about 1% to 3% of sexual abusers at most. However, mounting research evidence about sexual abuse perpetration at the hands of teen and adult females has begun to challenge our assumptions, though these earlier and dated views still tend to predominate.
The percentage of women and teenage girl perpetrators recorded in case report studies is small and ranges from 3% to 10% (Kendall-Tackett and Simon, 1987; McCarty, 1986; Schultz and Jones, 1983; Wasserman and Kappel, 1985). When the victim is male, female perpetrators account for 1 % to 24% of abusers. When the victim is female, female perpetrators account for 6% to 17% of abusers (American Humane Association, 1981; Finkelhor and Russell, 1984; Finkelhor et al., 1990). In the Ontario Incidence Study, 10% of sexual abuse investigations involved female perpetrators (Trocme, 1994). However, in six studies reviewed by Russell and Finkelhor, female perpetrators accounted for 25% or more of abusers. Ramsay-Klawsnik (1990) found that adult females were abusers of males 37% of the time and female adolescents 19% of the time. Both of these rates are higher than the same study reported for adult and teen male abusers.
Dynamics of Female-Perpetrated Abuse
Some research has reported that female perpetrators commit fewer and less intrusive acts of sexual abuse compared to males. While male perpetrators are more likely to engage in anal intercourse and to have the victim engage in oral-genital contact, females tend to use more foreign objects as part of the abusive act (Kaufman et al., 1995). This study also reported that differences were not found in the- frequency of vaginal intercourse, fondling by the victim or abuser, genital body contact without penetration or oral contact by the abuser.
Females may be more likely to use verbal coercion than physical force. The most commonly reported types of abuse by female perpetrators include vaginal intercourse, oral sex, fondling and group sex (Faller, 1987; Hunter et al., 1993). However, women also engage in mutual masturbation, oral, anal and genital sex acts, show children pornography and play sex games (Johnson, 1989; Knopp and Lackey, 1987). The research suggests that, overall, female and male perpetrators commit many of the same acts and follow many of the same patterns of abuse against their victims. They also do not tend to differ significantly in terms of their relationship to the victim (most are relatives) or the location of the abuse (Allen, 1990; Kaufman et al., 1995).
It is interesting to note in the study by Kaufman et al. (1995) that 8% of the female perpetrators were teachers and 23% were babysitters, compared to male perpetrators who were 0% and 8% respectively. Finkelhor et al. (1988) also report significantly higher rates of sexual abuse of children by females in day-care settings. Of course, Finkelhor’s findings should not surprise us given that women represent the majority of day-care employees.
Research on teen and adult female sexual abuse perpetrators has found that many suffer from low self-esteem, antisocial behaviour, poor social and anger management skills, fear of rejection, passivity, promiscuity, mental health problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorders (Hunter et al., 1993; Mathews, Matthews and Speltz, 1989). However, as in the case of male perpetrators, research does not substantiate that highly emotionally disturbed or psychotic individuals predominate among the larger population of female sexual abusers (Faller, 1987).
There is some evidence that females are more likely to be involved with co-abusers, typically a male, though studies report a range from 25% to 77% (Faller, 1987; Kaufman et al., 1995; McCarty, 1986). However, Mayer (1992), in a review of data on 17 adolescent female sex offenders, found that only 2 were involved with male co-perpetrators. She also found that the young women in this study knew their victims and that none experienced legal consequences for their actions.
Self-report studies provide a very different view of sexual abuse perpetration and substantially increase the number of female perpetrators. In a retrospective study of male victims, 60% reported being abused by females (Johnson and Shrier, 1987). The same rate was found in a sample of college students (Fritz et al., l 981). In other studies of male university and college students, rates of female perpetration were found at levels as high as 72% to 82% (Fromuth and Burkhart, 1987, 1989; Seidner and Calhoun, 1984). Bell et al. (1981) found that 27% of males were abused by females. In some of these types of studies, females represent as much as 50% of sexual abusers (Risin and Koss, 1987). Knopp and Lackey (1987) found that 51% of victims of female sexual abusers were male. It is evident that case report and self-report studies yield very different types of data about prevalence. These extraordinary differences tell us we need to start questioning all of our assumptions about perpetrators and victims of child maltreatment.
Finally, there is an alarmingly high rate of sexual abuse by females in the backgrounds of rapists, sex offenders and sexually aggressive men – 59% (Petrovich and Templer, 1984), 66% (Groth, 1979) and 80% (Briere and Smiljanich, 1993). Male adolescent sex offenders abused by “females only” chose female victims almost exclusively.