Implicit theories of child sexual exploitation material users : can they differentiate those also at risk of contact offending?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Understanding the risk factors that contribute to contact offending among online sexual offenders is an important topic for both researchers and clinicians working with this population. The present study sought to validate a novel implicit theory (IT) framework developed by Bartels and Merdian (2016) designed to capture the common beliefs of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) users and assess the risk of contact offending within this group. To achieve this, 29 CSEM offenders (i.e., those with a CSEM offence but no history of child sexual contact offending) and 30 mixed offenders (those with both a CSEM offence and child sexual contact offences) were rated using file data and compared on their endorsement of a combined set of 11 ITs (six CSEM ITs, five contact sexual offender ITs developed by Ward & Keenan, 1999).
Analyses showed that both groups endorsed CSEM ITs to a similar degree; however mixed offenders endorsed significantly more Contact ITs in comparison to CSEM offenders. Logistic regression identified two key ITs that were predictive of contact offending, Entitlement and Children as Sexual Beings. Overall this study supports the CSEM IT framework as being able to identify a number of common beliefs in CSEM users, and that the Contact IT framework may provide a way to identify CSEM users who are at risk of committing a child contact sexual offence. Implications for the assessment and treatment of CSEM users are discussed.