INTERNET SEX OFFENDERS: What we know about them Professor David Middleton Childsafe Associates, London De Montfort University, Leicester Trends in Online child sex abuse 1. Internet Related sexual offences are increasing in volume in most countries 2. Producers may be commercial organised crime 3. Producers may be individuals involved in a private network 4. Demand for images leads to new child sexual abuse 5. Some countries will act to have sites with indecent images removed, some will block access Conclusions Internet Offenders are not a homogenous group 1. One of the sub groups are socially isolated people, with intimacy deficits who meet their need for pseudo intimacy, emotional and sexual needs through online sexual activity 2. The second major group are those who are use internet for emotional avoidance, soothing strategy in response to emotional distress 3. The term “internet offender” covers a broad spectrum of clinical presentation. A significant minority may not present with the psychological characteristics commonly found in child molesters. “Child Pornography Possessors: Trends in Offender and Case Characteristics” Wolak,J.;Finkelhor, D.; and Mitchell, K. Journal of sex abuse 2011;23 22-42 Online Victimization (N-JOV) Study Arrests for child pornography possession across 2,500 USA Law enforcement agencies Child Pornography Possessors: Trends in Offender and Case Characteristics Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor, and Kimberly Mitchell SEX ABUSE 2011;23 22-42 What is the volume of traffic to sites with child abuse images? International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) 33 hotlines in 29 countries 2004 – 2010 1.9m reports 60,200 unique reports per month 66% of these contained child sexual abuse material c.p. grew by 15% per yr a.p. grew by 24% per yr (source: www.inhope.org) Online sex offending. Downloading Trading Production Grooming Thanks to Dr Ethel Quayle Trends in the USA 2000 -2006 In both 2006 and 2000, most offenders were White, non-Hispanic males and socio-economically diverse. Few were convicted of previous sex crimes. Most had CP that depicted pre-teen children and serious sexual abuse. By 2006, a higher proportion of offenders were ages 18 to 25, used peer-to-peer (p2p) networks, had images of children younger than three and CP videos. P2p users had more extreme images (e.g., younger victims, sexual violence) and larger numbers of images than those who did not use p2p networks. Child Pornography Possessors: Trends in Offender and Case Characteristics Janis Wolak, David Finkelhor, and Kimberly Mitchell SEX ABUSE 2011;23 22-42 Deviant sexual interests - Sexual arousal to children - Sexual preoccupation Socio-Affective Functioning - management of relationships - view of self and others - Intimacy deficits Distorted Cognitions - Attitudes supportive of sex with children - sexual entitlement beliefs SelfManagement -Anti-social orientation -Impulsivity -Poor problem solving Structured Risk Assessment (Thornton, 2002) Do Sexual deviance risk factors apply to internet offenders? Sexual Deviance Evidence of sexual arousal to children? Evidence of sexual preoccupation? What about images collected? Sexual preference for children “60% of convicted child pornography users without contact offences, registered a PPG assessment indicative of paedophilia – a higher proportion than contact offenders” Seto et al (2006) Does severity of image tell us anything? Level 1 erotic posing no sexual activity Level 2 images depicting non-penetrative sexual activity between children; or solo masturbation by child Level 3 sexual activity between adults and children Level 4 penetrative sexual activity involving child/children, or both child and adults Level 5 images of child/children depicting sadism, or penetration of or by an animal Low risk 72.6% 85% viewed all images including Level 4 & 5 36% viewed level 5 images Medium risk 21.9% High risk 5.5% 15% viewed up to level 3 only No high risk offenders viewed level 5 images Very High risk 0% n = 72 25% of Medium risk and 35% of Low risk had level 5 images Osborn, Elliott, Middleton & Beech 2010 Do Sexual deviance risk factors apply to internet offenders? Sexual Deviance Evidence of sexual arousal to children? Evidence of sexual preoccupation? What about images collected? ) Evidence for Distorted Attitudes? Middleton et al (2006) less evidence of cognitive distortions c.f. Offline offenders (213 internet cf. 191 contact offenders) Bates & Metcalfe (2007) Online offenders less than offline on cognitive distortions and victim empathy Evidence for Distorted Attitudes? Elliot et al (2009) Internet offenders tended to be lower on Cognitive Distortions and higher on Victim Empathy than Contact offenders (n = 505 Internet n= 526 Contact) Webb et al (2007) Internet Offenders scored lower on “attitudes towards assault” than Contact Offenders (90/120) “Self-Distancing” was dominant theme The offence is construed as a privatised, imaginary affair where real others are physically absent (intimacy deficits). Sophisticated rationalisations - children are unaffected by (or even benefitted from) being photographed; Rejection of sex offender tag not the same as contact and flasher offences; Rejection of sexual interest in children. Winder, B. & Gough, B. (2010) “I never touched anybody –that’s my defence”: A qualitative analysis of internet sex offender accounts. Journal of Sexual Aggression 16,2. Pp.125-141 Distorted Attitudes Evidence of Distorted Attitudes? mixed Evidence of poor victim empathy towards child abuse? no Evidence of post offence rationalisations? YES Evidence of cognitive schema which precede or maintain offence? mixed Evidence for Problematic Socio-Affective Functioning? Contact offender data Intimacy deficits Internet data 25% 20% 21% 17% Anti-social cognitions 8% 3% Distorted sexual scripts 7% 5% Pathways 1 and 3 15% 10% n of sub-sample 124 135 n of Total sample 191 213 Emotional dysregulation Middleton et al (2006; 2008) Predominant pathways Middleton et al (2006) n = 72 of which 43 reported elevated scores Intimacy Deficits [35%/n = 15] - offend when lonely/rejected/adult relationships compromised - experience high levels of emotional loneliness, - difficulty in establishing age appropriate relationships, internet used for pseudo-intimacy Emotional Disregulation [33% n = 14] - experience strong negative mood states over which lack of control, combined with sexual desire, - become disinhibited, use sex as a soothing strategy, - internet pornography to alleviate negative emotions, increase feelings of well-being ON Other Studies Laulik et al 2006 (n = 30) Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI: Morey 1991) Compared internet offenders to normative population Internet offenders low on Warmth & Dominance “indicates a rejecting and submissive interpersonal style, which is thought to preclude effective interaction with others” Higher levels of depression Other Studies Webb et al (2007) found high levels of intimacy deficits in both online and offline offenders [90/120] Morahan-Martin & Schumacher 2000 “viewing indecent images of children may be used as a mechanism to escape from negative mood states” IBAQ DATA MARITAL STATUS HIGHEST QUALIFICATION Single 52 44.4% Married 32 27.4% Divorced / Separated 32 27.4% No Formal Qualifications 15 12.4% O-Levels, City & Guilds 27 22.3% A-Levels 17 14.0% University educated 40 33.0% Elliott et al 23.4% in relationship Webb et al 38% married 43% no co-habiting relationships +1yr Self-Management Contact offender data Internet data 31 (25%) 26 (21%) 27 (20%) 23 (17%) Anti-social cognitions 10 (8%) 4 (3%) Distorted sexual scripts 9 (7%) 7 (5%) Pathways 1 and 3 18 (15%) 14 (10%) Intimacy deficits Emotional dysregulation Total of sub-sample 124 135 191 213 Total sample Middleton et al 2006;2008 Self-Management Middleton et al (2006); Elliott et al (2009) Evidence for Impulsivity in internet offenders Elliot et al found contact offenders found to have higher levels of “making snap decisions “ Webb et al (2007) found Internet Offenders scored lower on PCL-R than contact offenders ” Self-Management Seto (2009) “Internet offenders score relatively low on measures of anti-social tendencies, (criminal history, antisocial personality traits, antisocial attitudes and beliefs) indicating they are less likely to act upon their sexual interest in children” Online escalating to offline? Seto & Eke (2005; 2006; 2008) Criminal records of child pornography offenders listed on Ontario Sex Offender Registry n= 201 adult males 2.5 yr follow up; 4% contact sexual offence 3.6 yr follow up 6.6% new contact sexual offence 5.9 yr follow up 8.5% new contact sexual offence Prior conviction for sex or violence was best predictor of new contact offence Studies based on Official records examining prior contact sex offences among online offenders Elliot et al. (2008) 494 10.9% (n = 54) Prior cons/Probation Seto & Eke (2005) 201 11.9% (n = 24) Prior charges Galbreath et al. (2002) 39 7.7% (n = 3) Prior charges/mental health Seto & Eke (2008) 301 5% (n = 15) Prior charges/convictions Laulik et al. (2007) 30 6.7% (n = 2) Prior convictions/Prob Webb et al. (2007) 90 14.4% (n = 13) Convicted and unconvicted charges/allegations Wolak et al. (2005) 1,713 11% (n = 188) Prior arrests/Police Self Report studies Online offenders admitting to past contact offences Study N % with contact offences Source Bourke & Hernandez (2009) 155 84.5% (n = 131) Self-reports Buschman & Bogaerts (in press) Neutze et al. (2009) 38 55.3% (n = 21) 108 57.4% (n = 62) Self-reports (polygraph) Self-reports Quayle & Taylor (2003) 23 47.8% (n=11) Self-reports About half admit to past offences Karl Hanson’s view: Official data on 3,212 1 in 8 (13%) caught for both online & offline sexual offences Self report on 452 1 in 2 (50%) admit to both Meta-analysis of 15 studies involving 3,536 offenders of which 18% appear to have committed contact sexual offence (Hanson & Babchisin 2009) Summary Reconvictions studies have produced a wide variance Prior convictions may be useful guide to future sexual risk Actuarial risk tools may be useful for rank order but may overestimate actual risk HYPOTHESIS Internet Offenders are not a homogenous group 1. One of the sub groups are socially isolated people, with intimacy deficits who meet their need for pseudo intimacy, emotional and sexual needs through online sexual activity 2. The second major group are those who are use internet for emotional avoidance, soothing strategy in response to emotional distress 3. The term “internet offender” covers a broad spectrum of clinical presentation. A significant minority may not present with the psychological characteristics commonly found in child molesters.