Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Abstract 1: Many researchers have commented on the insecure attachment styles common to sexual offenders. Models have been created to account for the role attachment plays in an individual's movement towards sex offending behaviors, and all suggest a complex relationship that may not be stable throughout the lifespan. A few researchers have explored the current, adult attachment styles of sex offenders in order to answer questions about differences both within the group, within the larger group of criminals, and in comparison to the general population. Both the fearful-avoidant style and the preoccupied style have previously been shown to be prevalent in the child molesting subset of the sex offender group. Based on this, we hoped to explore the adult attachment styles of a group of incarcerated adult, male child molesters, with attention to their current, romantic relationships. We hypothesized that there would be a relationship between their particular style and the ways in which they approached their victim, specifically, their use of force or use of courtship/grooming behaviors. Additionally, with the understanding that each style brings with it different internal templates for relationship-building, a relationship between attachment style and number of victims was proposed. The findings confirmed that for the group under review, preoccupied and fearful styles were represented in greatest numbers. A significant difference was found in the offenders' use of force, with the fearful group using more force than the preoccupied group. While there was not a significant difference in the number of victims in each style-group, there was a difference worthy of attention in future research. Abstract 2: The extent to which pornography use plays a role in the development of sexually offending behaviors has been debated in the literature. The question is a controversial one for many reasons, beginning with the very act of defining pornography, and continuing with those who view pornography as dangerous, those who view it as potentially cathartic, and those who suggest a more complicated relationship. Current research seems to point to pornography as potentially dangerous on a sub-set of the population who may be predisposed to sexually offend, for a variety of developmental reasons. Based on this, data from 105 adult, male sex offenders – most of whom were incarcerated, and primarily fell into the category of child molesters – was collected with the hope of getting a clearer picture of the relationship between the pornography they consumed and their offenses. Relationships between the frequency of use of pornography and the number of victims, the type of pornography viewed and the type of victims (by gender and age) abused, and the arousal rates to various types of pornography and victim types were all hypothesized. A relationship that we expected to see – that pornography use, especially in close proximity to the offenses, is associated with a greater number of victims, and greater victimization in general – did not hold true for this study. While frequency of use of child pornography was moderately related to the number of child victims, the relationship was not a strong one, as was predicted. Differences between male and female child victims were shown in a couple of different analyses, suggesting areas for further study. Arousal to various kinds of pornography was shown to be strongly related to numbers and types of victims, especially in the case of arousal to and abuse of female victims under the age of 10. More examination of the complex relationship between arousal, pornography viewed, and offending behaviors are suggested by the results of this project. Implications of this and further research include the identification of those prone to reoffend and programs to target and treat those individuals. Abstract 3: Many researchers have studied the constellation of factors that make up the early home environments of individuals who become sexual offenders. Focus has been paid to a few developmental antecedents, including violence in the home, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated against the sex offender, neglect, and poor emotional relationships with caregivers (Malamuth and Sockloskie, 1991; Stirpe and Stermac, 2003; McCormack, Hudson, and Ward, 2002). Limited research has been done on the family system – disruptions in who lives at home, criminality of parents, removals from the home, etc – as a whole, to determine if there's a relationship between a chaotic environment and the development of sexual offending behaviors. Based on what has already been studied, it was hypothesized for this study that the more chaotic an offender's home environment was, as indicated by presence of certain disruptive variables, the greater the number of victims he would report. Respondents – by-and-large incarcerated, severe, adult child molesters – indicated the presence or absence of the disruptive variables in their families-of-origin. Comparisons were made between the groups based on their yes-or-no responses. Significant group differences were found for those that reported sexual abuse in the home, - they reported a higher average number of victims than those who did not have sexual abuse in the home. An unexpected finding was a significantly lower, average number of victims for respondents who reported that children (other than themselves) were removed from the home. Differences, though not significant, were found for a few of the other variables as well, indications that further research is needed to determine the impact of chaotic environments on the etiology of sexual offending.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. vii, 76 p. : col. ill. Includes bibliographical references (p. 24-26,54-55, 75-76)