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Self-Reported Sexual Interest in Children: Sex Differences and Psychosocial Correlates in a University Sample

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A sample of 180 female and 99 male university students were surveyed regarding their sexual interest in children. Males reported sexual attraction to at least one child more often than did females (n = 22 [22.2%] and n = 5 [2.8%], respectively). Both males and females reported very low rates of sexual fantasies about children, masturbation to such fantasies, or potential likelihood of sexual contact with a child. Males' sexual attraction to children was associated with lower self-esteem, greater sexual conflicts, more sexual impulsivity, lower scores on the Socialization scale of the California Psychological Inventory, greater use of pornography depicting consenting adult sex, and more self-reported difficulty attracting age-appropriate sexual partners. Childhood victimization history and attitudes supporting sexual aggression did not discriminate self-reported sexual attraction to children.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: California State University, Dominguez Hills 2: University of Southern California School of Medicine

Publication date: January 1, 1996

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