Development of an aetiological model of online child sexual exploitation material offending

Perkins, Derek and Merdian, Hannah Lena (2014) Development of an aetiological model of online child sexual exploitation material offending. In: European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) International Conference 2014 : Actual Problems of Psychology and Law, 24-27 June 2014, St Petersburg.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
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Abstract

The use of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) online has become a major issue in forensic psychology; however, psychological research in this area is still at a developing stage. This paper proposes an aetiological model of CSEM offending based on pilot studies in the UK on the histories, situational factors and modus operandi of men who have admitted, or are convicted of accessing CSEM through the internet. Research participants were CSEM offenders at different stages in the judicial process.
Data has been collected on early life experiences including attachments and abuse experiences, early exposure to sexual material and behaviours, adult relationships and sexual history, forensic and psychiatric history, and circumstances surrounding the offending behaviour. The research employed a multi-modal methodology, including semi-structured interviews and structured psychometric assessments of personality and mental health, sexual behaviours and interests, and sex offending risk.
Previous research has suggested a subgroup of CSEM offenders who display “cross­over" to contact sex offences against children, either prior to or following their CSEM usage (Howard, Barnett, & Mann, 2013; Seto, Hanson, & Babchishin, 2011). The identification of cross­over behaviour is an issue of major concern to criminal justice services and treatment providers. Research to date has shown these men to be typified by a combination of paedophilic sexual interests and general antisociality, i.e., offence-supportive attitudes, lack of empathy for child victims, lack of guilt about offending (Babchishin, Hanson, & VanZuylen, in press). Validation of these, and other potential predictors of cross-over, is a priority in the current research.
A major anticipated outcome from the research is the development of CSEM offender typologies, according to different risk levels and treatment needs. Risk assessment of CSEM offenders has typically focused on both the likelihood of CSEM recidivism and potential escalation into contact sexual abuse of a child, but the latter is not part of conventional sex offender risk assessments.
The research is combining quantitative and qualitative methods in the development of a more targeted risk assessment tool for this offender group. The emerging aetiological model for CSEM offending, which is being compared with data from control group subjects (with problematic legal pornography use) has highlighted the importance of dynamic interactions between (a) early life attachments and relationships, (b) early sexual experiences with pornography, adults and other children, (c) life circumstances in the lead up to initial offending and (d) infrastructure of the internet - anonymity, accessibility, and availability (Cooper, 1998).
1 Consultant Clinical & Forensic Psychologist (Broadmoor Hospital, Berkshire, UK) and Professor of Forensic Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK
2Lecturer in Forensic Psychology, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, and Consultant Advisor to Lincolnshire Probation Service, UK

Keywords:child sexual exploitation material
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:14424
Deposited On:01 Jul 2014 08:19

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