An Integrated Theory of Sexual Offending
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).
KeywordsMultifactorial 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
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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