Childhood maltreatment is common among pedophilic patients, according to a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study.
While sexual abuse is a frequent focus for papers on pedophilia, less is known about the potential effects of other types of childhood maltreatment, the authors noted. The current study considered emotional abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect, and physical neglect in addition to sexual abuse.
The researchers compared three groups of male participants in Germany:
- Patients with pedophilia. These 52 individuals (average age: 38 years) felt distress over their sexual attraction to minors and contacted a therapy program called “Don’t offend.” Just over half of the group said they had consumed child pornography in the past. Approximately 10% had committed sexual offenses. Over a quarter said they had done both, and 2% had not committed any offenses. About 48% were in relationships, and 67% were employed.
- Psychotherapy outpatients. This group included 1,127 males aged 17-72 with an average age of 38 years. They were not considered to have pedophilia. About 57% were in relationships, and 81% were employed.
- General population. Using data from an independent agency, the researchers used this sample of 1,002 men to represent men in the representative German population. The group’s average age was 47 years. About 57% said they were in a relationship, and 93% had steady jobs.
All of the participants completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, a 28-item tool that assesses emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.
The researchers found significant differences among the three groups. Patients with pedophilia were more likely to have experienced all types of maltreatment measured by the questionnaire, compared to psychotherapy patients and the general population. Except for sexual abuse, childhood maltreatment was more common among psychotherapy patients than the general population.
“The observed differences speak to a burdened and stressful childhood of patients showing pedophiliac impulses in later adulthood,” the authors wrote.
The results “can help establish more effective treatment and prevention programs for patients with pedophilia,” they concluded.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Marx, Caroline M., et al.
“Experienced Childhood Maltreatment in a Sample of Pedophiles: Comparisons With Patients of a Psychosomatic Outpatient Clinic and the General Population”
(Full-text. Published: February 20, 2020)