Understanding Men’s Self-Reported Sexual Interest in Children

  • Sandy K. Wurtele
  • Dominique A. Simons
  • Leah J. Parker
Original Paper


A few studies have found that even in the general population, a minority of adults—men as well as women—report some sexual interest in a young age group. The purpose of the present study was to identify factors associated with self-reported sexual interest in children among a community-based sample of men. Using an online survey methodology, we examined the extent to which different types of childhood adversities (witnessing parental violence, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse), atypical childhood sexual experiences, and participants’ self-reported likelihood of engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors (heightened sexual interest) were related to sexual interest in children (SIC) reported by a non-forensic/non-clinical sample of 173 men. Data were analyzed using hierarchical multiple regression. After controlling for physical and emotional abuse and witnessing parental violence, self-reported experiences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) significantly increased the amount of variance explained in SIC scores. However, only early masturbation and current heightened sexual interests contributed significantly to the final model. Total variance explained by the model as a whole was 24% (adjusted R2 = 20%). Early masturbation and heightened sexual interests significantly mediated the relationship between CSA and SIC scores. Findings add to the small but growing body of literature examining the etiology of pedophilic sexual interests in non-clinical samples.


Sexual interest in children Child sexual abuse Paraphilias Pedophilia DSM-5 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandy K. Wurtele
    • 1
  • Dominique A. Simons
    • 2
  • Leah J. Parker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Colorado, Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsUSA
  2. 2.Office of Behavioral Health, Colorado Department of Human ServicesDenverUSA

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