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Sexually Abusive ChildrenEtiological and Treatment Considerations (From Handbook of Sex Offender Treatment, P 51-1 - 51-13, 2011, Barbara K. Schwartz, ed. - See NCJ-243091)

NCJ Number
Alexis O. Miranda, Ph.D.; Kathleen Davis, M.Ed.
Date Published
13 pages
This chapter reviews plausible etiologies and correlates of children's sexual aggression and recommends treatment components.
Although no single theory has been credited with the power or comprehensiveness to explain the behaviors of sexually aggressive children (SAC), there is considerable support for the victim-to-perpetrator hypothesis. This hypothesis asserts that children's sexual aggressive behaviors are a response to or a reenactment of their own sexual abuse victimization. Studies used to support this hypothesis found that the younger a child is at the onset of sexually aggressive behavior, the more likely it is that his/her sexual victimization occurred. Friedrich (1991) suggested that sexualized aggressive behavior by children is a reliable marker for the child's own sexual abuse victimization if the sexual behaviors are developmentally inappropriate, frequent, chronic, and persistent. SACs may engage in a wide range of sexual behaviors, including fondling; obsessive masturbation; oral sex; vaginal and anal penetration with fingers, objects, or penis; voyeurism; exhibitionism; and the use of pornography. The role of attitude and cognition in the perpetration of sexual abuse has been extensively documented. In treatment, the SAC may be encouraged to identify thoughts that occur before, during, and after a sexual abuse event. The aim is for the SAC to learn how to identify and constructively manage cognitive cues and environmental stressors that affect his/her attitude toward potential victims. The chapter also discusses treatment approaches for SAC comorbid conditions and families of SACs. 57 references