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Are Internet offenders emotionally avoidant?

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Internet child sexual offending through the use of images of child sexual abuse is a prevalent problem. Defining the characteristics of this group has become a research focus, with emotional avoidance having been investigated as one potential precipitating psychological feature. There are grounds, therefore, for investigating emotional avoidance in this group. This study investigated emotional avoidance in Internet child sexual offenders. Four groups of men recruited from the community were compared: Internet child sexual offenders; contact child sexual offenders; non-sexual offenders; and non-offenders. Self-report assessments of emotional avoidance; and measures of potential confounds (e.g. psychological distress and socioeconomic status) were used. Analyses showed that non-sexual offenders were most emotionally avoidant. Several covariates correlated with the dependent variables. Mostly not reaching statistical significance, the findings did not support current views that Internet child sexual offenders have particular difficulties with emotional avoidance. This has implications for clinical work based on such assumptions.

Keywords: Internet child sexual offenders; contact child sexual offenders; emotional avoidance; non-offenders; non-sexual offenders

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Adult & Community Services, Neuropsychology Community Rehabilitation, Oldham, Manchester, UK 2: Mersey Forensic Psychology Services, Merseycare, Liverpool, UK 3: Liverpool University, Liverpool, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2011


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