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Assessing child sexual offenders' modus operandi: Accuracy in self-reported use of threats and coercion


Recent evidence suggests that child sexual offenders' self-report can provide a reliable source of information regarding offenders' use of threats and violence. However, the majority of studies in this area have specifically focused on coercion occurring within sexually abusive acts. The current investigation examined the accuracy of offenders' self-report regarding their use of threats and violence with child and adolescent victims during two time periods: (1) while attempting to secure victims' cooperation in sexual activities; and (2) while seeking to maintain victims' silence regarding the abuse. The responses of 16 offenders in an incarcerated treatment setting and 16 in an outpatient treatment program were compared with treatment staff's responses on an anonymous questionnaire. Findings generally indicated a high level of concordance between offender and staff reports. However, both groups of offenders significantly under-reported their use of threats and violence for both time periods. While some of the under-reported items reflected overt forms of violence (e.g., forced participation), the majority represented subtle, manipulative, and/or implied threats. Implications for future studies and clinical applications are discussed.

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Kaufman, K.L., Hilliker, D.R., Lathrop, P. et al. Assessing child sexual offenders' modus operandi: Accuracy in self-reported use of threats and coercion. Annals of Sex Research 6, 213–229 (1993).

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  • Future Study
  • Clinical Application
  • Treatment Program
  • Sexual Activity
  • Current Investigation