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Female perpetrators of child sexual abuse: characteristics of the offender and victim

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This study investigates the prevalence rates of female perpetrated child sexual abuse in Ireland and explores the victim and perpetrator characteristics associated with the abuse. Data were from a nationally representative survey investigating sexual violence among adults living in Ireland (n = 3120). Descriptive statistics and regression analysis investigated the characteristics of female versus male perpetrated sexual abuse. Approximately 6% of all the victims of child sexual abuse in the sample were abused by a lone female, which represents 1.5% of the overall adult population. Analyses indicated that male and female perpetrated abuse differ mainly in terms of the demographic characteristics of the perpetrators and victims: female perpetrators are more likely to be younger, and are more likely to abuse male victims and older children and adolescents (9–17 years), compared with male perpetrators. In addition, female perpetrators are less likely to be a stranger to the victim and in a position of authority, compared with male perpetrators. Treatment services should be particularly tailored for female perpetrated abuse, as the dynamics between the victim and perpetrator are likely to be different to male perpetrated abuse. The study adds to this relatively neglected area of research.
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Keywords: child abusers; child sexual abuse; females; gender differences; prevalence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Education Department, St. Patrick's College, Dublin, Ireland 2: Division of Population Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland 3: School of Psychology, University of Ulster, Londonderry, UK 4: School of Medicine, Perdana University–Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Perdana, Malaysia

Publication date: September 14, 2014

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