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An Integrated Theory of Sexual Offending

  • Tony WardEmail author
  • Stephanie Fisher
  • Anthony Beech

Abstract

The empirical and theoretical achievements in the sexual offending field have been considerable, and researchers have formulated a number of rich and insightful accounts of sexual offending (Ward, Polaschek, & Beech, Theories of sexual offending, Wiley, 2006). The foci of these theories have been broad and included biological, psychological, and social/cultural levels of analysis. An important implication of this theoretical work is that a satisfactory explanation of sexual abuse is likely to be multifactorial in nature and allows for a diversity of etiological pathways leading to the onset and maintenance of sexual offending. The types of causes canvassed in the research literature include genetic predispositions (Siegert & Ward, Sexual deviance: Issues and controversies, Sage, 2003); adverse developmental experiences (e.g., abuse, rejection, attachment difficulties; Beech & Ward, Aggression and Violent Behavior 10:31–63, 2004); psychological dispositions/trait factors, e.g., empathy deficits, attitudes supportive of sexual assault, deviant sexual preferences, emotional skill deficits, and interpersonal problems (Thornton, Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 14:139–154, 2002); social and cultural structures and processes (Cossins, Masculinities, sexualities and child sexual abuse, Kluwer Law International, 2000); and contextual factors, such as intoxication and severe stress (Hanson & Harris, Criminal Justice and Behavior 27:6–35, 2000; The sex offender need assessment rating (SONAR): a method for measuring change in risk levels, 2001).

Keywords

Multifactorial Diverse pathways Comprehensive framework Genetic predispositions Adverse developmental experience Psychological explanations Biological factors Ecological nice factors Neuropsychological factors Motivation/Emotional Perception and memory Action selection and control 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Elsevier Science for giving us permission to use some material previously published in the following paper: Ward, T. & Beech, A. (2006). An integrated theory of sexual offending. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11, 44–63.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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