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Journal Article


McKillop N, Rayment-McHugh S, Bojack R. Child Abuse Negl. 2020; 107: e104630.


(Copyright © 2020, Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: There are no known studies that have directly compared factors associated with the onset of child sexual abuse (CSA) perpetration during emerging adulthood, with CSA perpetration in other life-stages.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated common and distinct factors associated with the onset of CSA perpetration (i.e., age at first child sexual offense) across the life course to inform, and tailor, current prevention efforts.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: The sample comprised 354 males, from custodial and community corrections, and sentenced for sexual offenses against children.

METHODS: Using self-report and official data, the sample was stratified into three age groups: adolescence (n = 214; 10-17 years), emerging adulthood (n = 39; 18-25 years) and later adulthood (n = 101; 26+ years). Bivariate analyses were conducted to compare developmental and contextual factors associated with CSA perpetration. A multinomial logistic regression was then performed to examine distinct risk factors for CSA-onset in emerging adulthood, compared to the other onset age groups.

RESULTS: Bivariate analyses identified similarities and differences among the groups. The multinomial regression identified several factors distinguishing the emerging-adulthood group from the adolescence and later-adulthood onset groups. The combined results point to some notable differences in the emerging-adulthood group, including the disproportionate number of offenses perpetrated against male children, strangers, and in public.

CONCLUSIONS: Implications for existing prevention and rehabilitation strategies are discussed in light of these findings, especially the need for a developmental lens to prevention and intervention efforts. Research to further delineate risks unique to onset of CSA in emerging adulthood is also warranted.

Language: en


Prevention; Child maltreatment; Emerging adulthood; Age at first offense; Developmental life-course; Sexual offending


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