Reported Child Sex Abuse Declined Sharply In 90s


GPS monitoring for life? Castration? Post-prison confinement in mental hospitals? States are trying varied measures to prevent sex offenders from abusing again. David Burton of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers disucssed with the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families what the research shows. Asked if sexual offenses against children are on the rise, Burton said, “No, in fact, there is evidence of decline.” David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones found about a 40 percent decline between 1992 and 2000 in substantiated sexual abuse cases involving children. Burton said, “That could be a reflection of several factors, including the effectiveness of treatment, more public awareness and more education in schools.”

Burton said those who abuse people of their own age, including date rapists, show more criminality show more criminality and overall aggressiveness than do pedophiles. They are younger, on average, than child molesters because a lot of rape and that sort of aggression decreases with age. Child molesters have fewer other crimes. Said Burton: “Both groups have crime-related cognitive distortions, or thoughts that don't reflect social standards. Child molesters may think a child wants sex because they look at them, and a rapist may think the way a woman looks means she wants sex. So treatment needs to address those cognitive issues. Both groups may have other difficulties in life, for instance they're not having their intimacy needs met. I think that the most promising treatment is holistic, such as the Good Lives Model, recently developed by Bill Marshall of Canada, and Tony Ward and Mark Brown of Australia. ”


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