I also predicted that the difference in heterosocial competence between child molesters and non-sex-offenders would be significantly larger than the difference between rapists and non-sex-offenders. This hypothesis was also supported (Dreznick, 2003,pg 170)."
The researcher also hypothesized that the variation in heterosocial competence amongst child molesters and nonincarcerated non-sex-offenders would be considerably larger than the variation amongst child molesters and incarcerated non-sex-offenders (Dreznick, 2003). The findings of the meta-analysis were consistent with this hypothesis.
The author of this meta-analysis concluded that because child molesters have significant problems with heterosocial skills social skills training may assist in the treatment of these individuals. However the author points out that the treatment of heterosocial skills is only one component of an overall treatment program. Other components of a treatment program may include anger management and increasing empathy for the children that are victimized (Dreznick, 2003).
Additionally the author points out certain limitations of the study. For instance, that all of the child molesters that participated in the study were behind bars. Therefore, it could also be concluded that many sex offenders have very good social skills and have been able to avoid capture (Dreznick, 2003). In addition the author explains that predators that go to foreign countries so that they can get away with having sexual contact with children may also have high heterosocial skills. As such it may be important in the future to examine child molesters that are not in jail.
Child Molesters that are Socially Skilled
The assertions made by Dreznick (2003) related to the idea that some child molesters have very good social skills is confirmed in a book entitled "The Socially Skilled Child Molester." In this book the author, Van Dam (2006) explains that one of the reasons why child molestation is so prevalent can be attributed to the ability of the molester to behave charismatically. The author insists that those that are responsible for the well-being of children are often "enchanted" by the charisma, friendliness and support of socially adept molesters that the author refers to as groomers. In addition the author posits that parents and other adults are often so impressed with the groomers persona that even when they suspect that something is wrong they hesitate to confront the situation because they fear that the reputation of the groomer will be damaged by allegations (Van Dam, 2006).
A book entitled Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders: Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children, confirms the aforementioned tactics of child molesters. Although there are many factors that are consistent when one studies and examines the mind of a child molester, the truth of the matter is many child molesters are the person that you would least expect of such a crime. After all most people do not know what to look for in a child predator and as such molesters can often disguise themselves as a regular person that cares about children. This is why molesters are often referred to as 'the person you would least expect' (Salter, 2004). The author also explains that quite often a child molester will live a double life. In the words of one molester "I would do kind and generous things for people... I would go to nursing homes. Talk with the elderly. Pray with the elderly Salter, 2004 page31)."
Child Molesters perceptions of Early interpersonal relationships
In addition to the aforementioned meta-analysis, a study conducted by McCormack et al. (2003) sought to uncover the perceptions of child molesters early interpersonal relationships. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate these interpersonal relationships through the utilization of the grounded theory. The authors explain that little is known about the manner in which child molesters' perceive their early interpersonal relationships when compared with other criminals (McCormack et al. 2003). The grounded theory method allowed researchers to maximize the evaluation of the data gathered from the study. The authors also report three aims associated with the research. These aims are as follows:
To create a very specific depiction of the early experiences of sexual offenders, particularly those aspects associated with their offense-related problems including level of interpersonal trust, impaired independence, and difficulties controlling emotions, and the level to which participants saw themselves in a negative way (McCormack et al. 2003).
Examine the variation as it relates to the way sexual offenders perceived their early interpersonal experiences when compared to other types of criminals. The purpose of examining this issue was to ascertain if variations existed amongst various kinds of criminals in their early experiences, or their view of past experiences (McCormack et al. 2003).
To learn if offenders had dissimilar views of early relationships with their parents.
To conduct this study researchers utilized a semi-structured interview format because this type of format is believed to supply the most correct depiction of a person's early experiences than other formats. It is believed that correctness is enhanced with this format because individuals' interpersonal schemas are often tacit and therefore not easily accessible by direct questioning. They may not be aware of their underlying relationship models, and when asked directly about these may unconsciously distort their responses in some way. By allowing offenders to respond more freely to open-ended questions it is possible to develop a richer understanding of their underlying beliefs and models (McCormack et al. 2003, pg.85)."
Participants that were child molesters were a part of the Kia Marama Sex Offender Treatment Program that functioned inside a medium security prison in New Zealand (McCormack et al. 2003). Most of the men participated prior to receiving treatment. The other groups participating in the study included, sexual offenders with adult victims, violent nonsexual offenders, and nonsexual, nonviolent offenders (McCormack et al. 2003). These individuals were recruited from the same prison as the child molesters in addition to another medium security prison in the same region (McCormack et al. 2003). Only the child molesters were engaged in a treatment program.
A total of 147 men participated in the study. Of the 147, 55 were child molesters, 30 were sexual offenders with adult victims, 32 men with violent offenses, and 30 men incarcerated for something other than sexual or violent offenses. The authors point out that the crimes attributed by child molesters included everything from masturbating in front of a minor to intercourse or sodomy. The authors also note considerable differences in the ages of participant. For instance, the child molesters tended to be much older than the other groups and those that committed sexual offenses against adults were considerably older than the violent and nonviolent groups (McCormack et al. 2003). There were also noteworthy variation is the groups as it related to the number of offenses that had been committed. Those committing sexual crimes against adults and child molesters tended to have the most wide-ranging history, and nonviolent offenders had the shortest criminal histories (McCormack et al. 2003).
All participants were interviewed concerning early interpersonal experiences. A total of 35 questions were used from the attachment research literature. The interview included questions pertaining to parental interest and support, parental reaction to negative emotion, stability of parental actions, view of safety and security in the home and an overall evaluation of the relationship (McCormack et al. 2003).
The study found that child molesters tended to have significantly more sexual deviation and abuse than rapists and nonviolent offenders (McCormack et al. 2003). This is consistent with past researcher that has found that child molesters are at least twice as likely to report sexual abuse as those that commit sexual offenses against adults (McCormack et al. 2003). Additionally the study found that Child molesters and violent offenders tended to assess themselves in a more negative light than the other participants in the study (McCormack et al. 2003). This is consistent with the existing literature which asserts that "child molesters have a tendency toward fearful and preoccupied attachment styles, both characterized by negative views of the self (McCormack et al. 2003)." The authors point out that the findings of their research is consistent with many studies that have also found child molesters usually see themselves in self-depreciating light.
The authors explain that negative perceptions of self can be correlated to the feeling of personal worthlessness and to a decreased feeling of self-sufficiency (McCormack et al. 2003). This relationship is makes sense because-as the study found- child molesters experienced a reduced amount of independent attachment relationships when compared with other types of criminals including nonviolent offenders and even those that committed sexual offenses against adults (McCormack et al. 2003). Again this particular finding is consistent with existing literature positing that child molesters usually have dependent relationships with their mothers and that child molesters tend to not have clear boundaries in their parental relationships (McCormack et al. 2003).
Additionally the authors note that the decreased level of autonomy child molesters experience may occur as a result of their increased propensity to display fearful and anxious…