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Ward and Siegert's Pathways Model of child sexual offending: a cluster analysis evaluation

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In the Pathways Model of child sexual offending, Ward and Siegert originally hypothesised the existence of five pathways or subtypes of child molesters, each characterised by a unique configuration of psychological deficits. We administered a battery of 10 psychometric measures to a sample of 97 UK child molesters and then attempted to identify and validate five unique configurations using a k-means cluster analysis. The results suggested that a five-cluster resolution provided the best fit for the data. Three of the extracted clusters showed some resemblances to the pathways originally hypothesised by Ward and Siegert (namely the intimacy deficits, antisocial cognition, and multiple dysfunction pathways). However, two clusters did not fit comfortably with any of the predicted pathways proposed by Ward and Siegert. These two clusters were labelled ‘impulsivity’ and ‘boy predators’ to reflect their psychological vulnerabilities. We describe our findings with reference to future research, treatment implications, and a tentative reworking of the pathways model.

Keywords: child molesters; child sexual offenders; cluster analysis; pathways model; theory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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