The following research studies focus on statistics relating to the
crime of child molestation perpetrated by adult victims of childhood
From "Protecting Our Children." Rape Crisis Center. Brazos Valley
* According to a study done by Dr. Nicholas Groth, at least 80% of
sexual offenders were sexually abused or exposed to sexual abuse of
other family members when they were children.
(Although there are numerous studies attributed to Dr. Roth, I could
not find out which study includes these statistics)
From "Developmental Risk Factors for Differential Sexual Offending:
Child Sexual Abuse and Rape," by Dominique Simons. University of
Colorado. Colorado Department of Corrections.
"Findings support the cycle of abuse hypothesis of sexual offending:
offenders in the present study appeared to replicate the
characteristics of their own abuse experiences."
"In contrast to rapists, the majority of child molesters reported
experiencing sexual abuse as children. Consistent with previous
findings, child molesters were more likely to report intrafamilial
sexual abuse, abuse by a male perpetrator, and multiple abuse episodes
that were more severe."
From "THE ABEL AND HARLOW CHILD MOLESTATION PREVENTION STUDY (page 4)"
Excerpted from The Stop Child Molestation Book, by Gene G. Abel, M.D.,
and Nora Harlow (Xlibris 2001) (Study text revised April 2002)
"There was a difference in our molester group between the 53 percent
of men who had never been sexually abused as children (2,066) and the
47 percent of men who had been sexually abused (1,832). The molesters
who had been sexually abused children started to molest at an earlier
age, and they molested more children. The most striking difference
occurred with the adult molesters who, as children, had been severely
sexually abused (molested more than 50 times)."
"In our analysis of 2,294 pedophiles, those who were never abused
reported that only 9 percent of them molested before the age of 10
years and another 28 percent between the ages 10 and 15. Severely
sexually abused pedophiles reported that 25 percent of them molested
before the age of 10 and 40 percent between the ages of 10 and 15. In
all, 49 percent of the never-abused pedophiles molested before the age
of 20, while 76 percent of the severely sexually abused pedophiles
molested before the age of 20."
"An analysis of the total group of 3,952 admitted child molesters
revealed a dramatic difference between the never-abused molesters (53
percent) and the severely abused molesters (47 percent) in the number
of their victims. Never-abused molesters averaged 7 child victims
while severely sexually abused victims averaged 25 victims. On
average, severely sexually abused molesters committed well over 100
more acts (142 acts) than never-abused molesters (37 acts)."
The most conclusive study I have uncovered concerning childhood sexual
abuse and repeat behavior was published in the February 2003 issue of
"Risk of sexually abused children becoming adult abusers lower than
once thought." Lancet (February 2003)
"Authors of a UK study in this week's issue of THE LANCET suggest that
most male victims of child sexual abuse do not abuse children later in
life-however there are specific factors that increase the chances of
sexually abused children becoming abusers."
"David Skuse and colleagues from the Institute for Child Health,
London, UK, assessed childhood experiences and personal
characteristics of male child victims who became abusers in later life
in order to identify risk factors for sexually abusive behaviour."
"26 of the 224 former victims (12%) had subsequently committed sexual
offences-in almost all cases with children-mainly outside their
families. Several factors during childhood increased the risk (around
threefold) of male victims becoming abusers: material neglect, lack of
supervision, and sexual abuse by females. A third of abused children
who later became abusers had inflicted cruelty on animals during
childhood, compared with only 5% of abused children who did not become
sexually abusive. Abused children who witnessed violent behaviour
within their families were more than three times more likely to become
abusers in later life."
** However - most interesting to the researchers is the question of
how some childhood victims of sexual abuse develop a resilience
towards a tendency to commit similar future acts.
"An accompanying Commentary (p 446) by Paul Bouvier from Service sante
jeunesse, Geneva, Switzerland, focuses on the abused children who do
not become abusers later in life as a target for future investigation.
He comments: "..it would be most interesting to study those victims
who became resilient. About 20-44% of previous victims of child sexual
abuse seem to experience no symptoms or mental health problems. How
did these individuals manage to get out of the circle of repetition of
the abuse, to avoid other risks, and to develop a meaningful life in
spite of their terrible history? There is much to be learnt from
resilient individuals. Resilience, just as vulnerability, is
influenced by genetic and environmental factors, which interact, most
probably with a contribution of the will of the subject."
Also read "Violence plays role in cycle of child sex abuse." Health Info Center.
Some believe that the 12% offense rate by prior abuse victims cited in
the above study is actually too low. They contend that many child
abusers never enter the criminal justice system and their crimes are
Read the following excerpts from "Sexually Abused Kids Don't All
Become Adult Abusers," by Serena Gordon. Health Scout.
"Dr. Kenneth Skodnek, chairman of the departments of psychiatry and
psychology at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, N.Y.,
believes the study may have missed a large number of abusers."
"There is an assumption here that all abuse situations get involved
with the criminal justice system," Skodnek says. And that, he adds, is
often not the case. "The better the victim knows the perpetrator, the
less dramatic the abuse, the less likely it is that there would be any
criminal justice evidence," he says.
"I think the 12 percent figure is quite low," Skodnek says.
"Skuse acknowledges that could be a possibility. "We do not know that
the other 88 percent were innocent, merely that we had no evidence
they had abused from official records," he says."
"Whether the figure is low or not, Markey says that someone who has
been abused still runs a high risk of becoming an abuser as an adult,
and shouldn't be placed in situations where they are alone with
You can read more about the study by filling out a free registration
on the Lancet website.
Simply go to http://www.thelancet.com/, click on Search the Journal,
paste in the title of the Lancet artice (noted above) and then fill
out the free registration to read the text.
I hope these research studies are useful! Let me know if I can be of
Google Search Strategy
do sexually abused children become abusers?
were child molesters sexually abused?
research in offense after sexual abuse
Dr. nicholas groth