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Journal Article


Chopin J, Caneppele S. Child Abuse Negl. 2019; 91: 116-130.


School of Criminal Sciences, University of Lausanne, ESC - Sorge - BCH, CH - 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: For several years, the link between mobility, human behavior and crime have highlighted by criminologists. Nevertheless, due to the difficulty of compiling sensitive geographical data, the spatial behavior of extrafamilial child abusers has received little empirical attention.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to explore the spatial mobility of victims and offenders of extrafamilial child abuse under the lens of the crime mobility triangle methodology. The main objective is to analyze the distribution of the spatial mobility patterns and determine which factors are associated with these patterns. PARTICIPANTS: This study analyses the characteristics of 612 cases of extrafamilial child abuses recorded by the French police between 1979 and 2013.

METHODS: By using police data, this research analyses firstly the journey to crime and the victims of child abuse with descriptive analyses. Secondly, geographical data are merged to compute and classify the cases in the geometric and geographic mobility typologies. Thirdly, multivariate analyses are used to identify which factors are associated with each specific mobility pattern.

RESULTS: Results suggest that the journeys to crime and victimization are shorter compared to cases of adult sexual abuse. Over 50% of aggression occurred within 2.5 km of offenders' houses and 0.5 km of victims' residences. Acquaintanceship is more important when the victims are younger while the expansion of routine activities associated with secondary socialization increases the risk of aggression in public spaces.

CONCLUSIONS: Journeys to crime are affected by children routine activities and modus operandi parameters, whereas offenders' characteristics were found to have no impact on the spatial behavior.

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Crime patterns; Journey to crime; Modus operandi; Rational choice; Sexual crime; Spatial behavior


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