Saturday, December 16, 2017
Supporting Men > Psychology > APA: Link between child pornography and child sexual abuse

APA: Link between child pornography and child sexual abuse

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/12/child-abuse.aspx

Clinical psychologists Michael Bourke, PhD, and Andres Hernandez, PsyD, have been making waves in the psychology and law enforcement communities with the recent release of a paper suggesting that men charged with Internet child pornography offenses and those who commit hands-on child sex offenses are, in many cases, one and the same.

“There is this assumption—in the treatment context, in courtrooms, in investigative circles and in the assessment literature—that these are dichotomous groups,” says Bourke, Chief Psychologist of the U.S. Marshals Service, who conducted the research with Hernandez between 2002 to 2005 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C. “However, in the course of treatment, these men would disclose to us that their use of the Internet was not the limit of their sexual acting out—it was in fact an adjunctive behavior.”

The study, published in the April Journal of Family Violence (Vol. 24, No. 3), analyzed data on 155 men convicted of possessing, receiving or distributing Internet-based child pornography, who took part in an 18-month treatment program. As part of their intensive therapy, the men filled out assessment measures including a “victims list,” where they revealed the number, though typically not the identity, of children they had sexually molested in the past.

At the time of sentencing, 74 percent of the men had no documented hands-on victimization. But by the end of treatment, 85 percent had admitted they had sexually molested a child at least once, with an average of 13.5 victims per offender, the study finds. The numbers are more than twice that of other studies, a discrepancy the authors attribute to the fact that this is the first study to examine offenders who have disclosed secret abuse over time, while other studies mainly look at criminal convictions or at admissions made by people outside treatment settings.

“Our treatment team worked for an average of 18 months with each offender, and the environment was one of genuine therapeutic trust” that encouraged the men to tell the truth about themselves, Bourke says.