Is there a typical profile of someone who sexually abuses children?
NO. You cannot pick out a sex offender in a crowd. People who may sexually abuse children are fathers, mothers, step-parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. They are neighbors, babysitters, religious leaders, teachers, and coaches. They come from all classes, racial and religious backgrounds and may be homosexual or heterosexual. Most of those we know about who sexually abuse children are men, but some are women.
Some people who abuse children have adult sexual relationships and are not solely, or even mainly, sexually interested in children. More than a third of those who engage in sexual activity with children are under the age of 18 themselves. In many of these instances, the abusive child may not understand that his or her sexual actions toward another child are harmful.
It’s important to remember that many terms used to describe people who sexually abuse children, like "pedophile" or "sexual predators," are often misused according to their clinical or legal definition. And, media stereotypes of "child predators" and "monsters" may actually make it more difficult for us to recognize or acknowledge inappropriate behaviors in those people we know.
- Warning Signs
- The Center for Sex Offender Management Fact Sheet: What you need to know about Sex Offenders
Return to FAQs