Offending pathways: The role of lifestyle and precrime factors in extrafamilial child molesters

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Beauregard, Eric
Proulx, Jean
Leclerc, Benoit
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Proulx, J

Beauregard, E

Lussier, P

Leclerc, B

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Over the years, several attempts have been made to explain child molestation. Finkelhor’s (1984; Finkelhor & Araji, 1986) Precondition Model was the first multifactorial explanation of child sexual abuse and-probably due to its simplicity-has been one of the most popular and cited models of child sexual abuse (Ward, Polaschek, & Beech, 2006). The model rests on four preconditions that are temporally organized and that may interact with each other. The first precondition is that there must be a motivation to sexually abuse. According to Finkelhor (1984), there are three distinct motivations. Emotional congruence-i.e., child sexual abuse meeting an emotional need-is the first motivation. An example of this congruence would be the fulfillment of an aggressor’s need for affection and valorization through contact with children, who are perceived as naive and affectionate, as opposed to adults, whom he perceives as rejecting. The second motivation is a preferential arousal pattern to children. The third motivation is a desire to compensate for blockage, namely the inability to meet sexual and emotional needs in a socially acceptable way (due, for example, to marital problems or deficient social skills). In such situations, child sexual abuse is a compensating strategy. This leads to the second precondition: overcoming internal inhibitors. Finkelhor states that disinhibitors may be either internal (e.g., alcohol intoxication, severe stress, sexual arousal, cognitive distortions), or external (e.g., the consumption of child pornography). He also states that this precondition is a necessary but insufficient causal factor for sexual abuse. The third precondition is the overcoming of external inhibitors, i.e., obstacles that need to be removed in order to abuse the child. Strategies to overcome such obstacles include grooming the victim and cultivating a relationship with the victim’s parents. The last precondition is the overpowering of the victim’s resistance. Many strategies (e.g., giving gifts, using alcohol, desensitizing the child to sex by exposing them to pornography, using threats or force) may be deployed to this end. This last precondition is compatible with the rational choice approach

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Pathways to sexual aggression

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