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Differences and similarities between violent offenders and sex offenders

by Gisli H Gudjonsson, Jon F Sigurdsson
Child Abuse & Neglect ()

Abstract

Objectives: To investigate differences and similarities between violent offenders and two types of sex offenders, rapists and child molesters, in terms of their personality, the nature of the victim, the role of alcohol, and their confession to their crime. Method: Thirty-six adult sex offenders, 23 child molesters, and 32 violent offenders were compared on personality measures, their relationship with the victim, the presence of alcohol intoxication, their confession rate and retraction at trial, and the reasons they gave for having confessed to the police. Results: Child molesters and adult sex offenders (rapists) were significantly more introverted than the violent offenders. The child molesters had higher social desirability scores than the other groups, they tended to assault relatives and friends, they were rarely intoxicated while committing the offense, and they had strong internal need to confess to the police. Rapists and violent offenders were more commonly intoxicated during the commission of the offense; the former tended to assault acquaintances, where violent offenders most commonly assaulted strangers. Exactly half of the rapists retracted their confession when the case went to trial; in contrast none of the other offenders retracted their confession. Conclusions: The results show that there are significant differences as well as similarities between the three groups of offenders, which have implications for assessment and treatment.

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