A Brief Screening Scale to Identify Pedophilic Interests Among Child Molesters

  • Michael C. Seto
  • Martin L. Lalumiére


Among child molesters, phallometrically measured sexual interest in children is associated with having male victims, multiple victims, younger victims, and extrafamilial victims. These sexual offense history variables are also associated with risk for sexual recidivism. The present study of 1,113 child molesters was conducted to determine if these sexual offense history variables could be used as items in a brief screening scale to identify pedophilic interests (SSPI: Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interests). Using a cutoff score that classified 90% of a sample of 206 nonchild molesters as not having pedophilic interests, SSPI scores identified pedophilic interests among child molesters significantly better than did chance. In phallometric testing, individuals with the highest SSPI score were more than 5 times as likely to show pedophilic interests than individuals receiving the lowest score. The SSPI is not intended to be a substitute for phallometric testing, but it may be useful for triage and risk management when testing is difficult to conduct, or as a research instrument when phallometric data are unavailable.

pedophilic interests child molesters screening scale sexual offense histories 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law and Mental Health ProgramCentre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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