Child sex offenders (CSOs) tend to justify their sexually abusive behaviour. To clarify the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the offending process of CSOs, this thesis aimed to extend the knowledge about CSOs’ problematic attitudes and beliefs about sex with children, i.e. offense-supportive cognitions, and to unravel the relationships between offense-supportive cognitions and own abuse experiences, empathy and the interpretation of children’s’ behaviour. Sixty-seven male CSOs and 40 male non-offenders participated. Results showed that CSOs are distinctively characterized by deviant cognitions about sex with children, and by implicit associations between children and sex. Especially men who have committed a contact sexual offense against a child are more distorted in their cognitions about sex with children than men who have committed a non-contact sexual offense against a child. The proportion of CSOs that has been sexually abused in childhood is almost three times larger than the proportion of non-offenders that was sexually abused in childhood. A history of childhood sexual abuse was especially prevalent among men who have committed contact sexual offenses against children. However, own sexual abuse experiences in childhood were unrelated to the seriousness of offense-supportive cognitions. Nevertheless, holding cognitions that justify child sexual abuse influenced the way in which behaviour of children was interpreted, increasing the risk of sexual offending against children. These results highlight the profound character of offense-supportive cognitions, especially in contact CSOs, and the need for intensive treatment of these cognitions to prevent future offending.

Additional Metadata
Keywords child sex offenders, offense-supportive cognitions, cognitive distortions, sexual offending, interpretation
Promotor H.J.C. van Marle (Hjalmar)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISBN 978-90-6464-711-6
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/50121
Hempel, I.S. (2013, November 27). Sexualized Minds: Child Sex Offenders Offense-supportive Cognitions and Interpretations. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/50121