Identifying the implicit theories of child sexual exploitation material users: findings from interview data

Bartels, Ross, Rowland, Rebecca, Merdian, Hannah Lena and Perkins, Derek (2016) Identifying the implicit theories of child sexual exploitation material users: findings from interview data. In: bi-annual conference of the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders, 7-10 September 2016, Rigshospitalet, University Hospital of Copenhagen.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Child abusers’ offence-supportive cognitions are thought to result from underlying implicit theories (ITs) about oneself, others, and the world (Ward & Keenan, 1999). Since online child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) users are argued to be a distinct type of sexual offender, Bartels and Merdian (2016) proposed that CSEM users may hold their own set of ITs. From a qualitative analysis of the literature, Bartels and Merdian identified five ITs related to CSEM use, labelled Unhappy World, Self as Uncontrollable, Child as Sexual Object, Nature of Harm (CSEM variant), and Self as Collector, each of which is underpinned by an assumption about the Reinforcing Nature of the Internet.
The present paper reports the results of the first study to test this initial conceptualization. The study involved analysing and coding 10 interviews conducted with male CSEM users in the UK. The results provide support for all five proposed ITs, and highlights their interrelationships. Some of Ward and Keenan’s ITs were also identified. The results suggest that different ITs may be associated with different types of CSEM users (e.g., contact-driven versus fantasy-driven users). The implications for assessing and treating CSEM-related cognitions are discussed. The limitations and ideas for future research are also discussed.

Keywords:child protection, online sex offending, implicit theories
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C840 Clinical Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:24671
Deposited On:15 Oct 2016 21:13

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