Female Offenders

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Recently there has been much more discussion of women as possible perpetrators of child sexual abuse than in earlier years. Some researchers suggest it is not as rare as previously assumed. However, there is still considerable disagreement and confusion about just how frequently women sexually abuse children, what type of women do this, and under what circumstances. Finkelhor, Williams, and Burns (1988), in a national study of 270 day care cases, report that 40% of the perpetrators were women. These women tended to be intelligent, educated, highly regarded in their communities, and not likely to have a history of known deviant behavior. Many of these apparently normal women were alleged to have engaged in extremely deviant behavior including oral-genital penetration (www.ipt-forensics.com).

There are beginning to be studies which address the characteristics of female sexual abuse perpetrators. Many of these are based on small samples and case studies. As with any case study or small sample, the information may not accurately generalize the characteristics of many female perpetrators. However, this information provides a necessary starting point (www.ischool.utexas.edu). Mathews, Matthews, and Speltz (1987) and Patton (1987), report on a study of 16 female sexual offenders who were in the Genesis II treatment project in Minnesota. All but one of the women studied were victims of childhood sexual abuse and many were also victims of physical abuse. There were strong and consistent patterns of childhood social isolation, alienation, and lack of development of interpersonal skills in the women studied. Three categories of female sex offenders were described; the “Teacher/Lover,” “Predisposed” and “Male-Coerced” (www.atypon-link.com). The “Teacher/Lover” is generally involved with adolescent males that she may relate to as a peer. Her alleged motive is to teach her young victims about sexuality. The “Predisposed” offender is usually a victim of severe sexual...
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