nextgenforensic

Long-term reconviction rates for individuals convicted of indecent image offences appear to be low

Ian A. Elliott

Although they’re a relatively small proportion of individuals convicted of sexual offences there is increasing concern about the behaviours and management of individuals with offenses relating to indecent images of children (IIOC) online. The consensus in the literature appears to be that, contrary to popular notions, sex offenders don’t reoffend at high rates and that the rate for IIOC offenders is lower than those who commit contact sexual offences. This post summarises the findings of our new study into (relatively) long-term reconviction rates for IIOC users.

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The truth about stories: How men desist from sexual offending

Ian McPhail

“The truth about stories is that’s all we are.” This is how Thomas King, America-Canadian First Nations author, begins his 2003 Massey Lectures.  That phrase has resonated with me since I read it over ten years ago; in fact, it’s never strayed too far from my mind.  There is a power in stories: we are drawn to tell stories and construct fictions about ourselves and our world.  In this post, my interest is in exploring some of the stories told by men who desist from sexual offending.

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Could ’empathy games’ play a role in treatment?

Ian A. Elliott

I occasionally take an interest in the ongoing “GamerGate” controversy, which is odd since the only game console I own is my mid-90s Game Boy loaded with Tetris. This post isn’t about GamerGate, but if you have an interest here’s a linkAlthough this post is not about GamerGate, it’s always good to read widely (it’s Habit #3 of Michael Seto’s advice to new researchers on this blog!). I would, however, encourage you to read this post by Liana Kerzner, which inspired this one, because it’s a wonderfully-written and objective examination of the issue of misogyny as it relates to video games. It also got me thinking about how we address empathy deficits in sex offender treatment – but we’ll get to that.

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Towards a more universal understanding of “grooming”

Ian A. Elliott

So could that explain how terrorists groom children for political violence too?

That was the question (paraphrased, admittedly) that I posed to terrorism gurus John Horgan and Mia Bloom, with whom I shared a corridor at Penn State, during a brainstorming mini-summit back in 2012. They were shaping the ideas that would form Small Arms, their upcoming book on the recruitment of children for political violence. We had engaged in a number of conversations about the similarities between recruitment processes in violence and terrorism and the “grooming” processes described in the sex offense literature, and had come to preliminary conclusions that there was likely to be some universal process that underlies those preparatory processes in both. I had just briefed attendees to our small meeting on the existing models of “sexual grooming” and set forth my initial half-baked ideas that would eventually become a newly-published attempt at a holistic model.

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Emotional congruence with children: Recent developments in an old concept

Ian McPhail

In the past number of years, a few colleagues and I have embarked on a line of research examining emotional congruence with children in sexual offenders against children.  The set of psychological processes typically included within this concept highlight the perceived intimate nature of relationships males who commit sexual offences against children have with children and their understanding of these relationships.  Basically, emotional congruence with children suggests the notion that some men feel more comfortable around children than adults, think of children as their friends, are emotionally attracted to children, and may even yearn for the trappings of childhood.

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Does lust make us stupid? Part II

Ross Bartels

At the 33rd ATSA conference, Jesse Bering (author of ‘Perv: The sexual deviant in all of us) gave an interesting opening keynote entitled ‘Does Lust Make us Stupid? The Effect of Sexual Arousal on Decision-Making’. This subject has clear relevance to the work undertaken by clinicians and researchers in the field of sexual offending. That is, it is likely to account (in part) for why some individuals engage in sexual activity with underage or non-consenting individuals. However, despite the importance of the topic, Bering argued that it has evaded empirical attention.

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Reinventing the wheel: Testing a new CoSA-based sex offender intervention

John Vaccaro

In 1994, a small-town event catalyzed the creation of a new method of supervising sexual offenders in the community. At that time, the residents of Ontario, Canada became aware that a high risk sexual offender, who had molested multiple children, was being released with no supervisory restrictions (Canada’s equivalent of “maxing out”). This led to immense upheaval in the local community. The situation seemed irresolvable until a Mennonite pastor of a local congregation offered to supervise the offender and keep him accountable through regular meetings, checkups, and guidance. After the situation turned into a success story – the offender was never rearrested – the Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario and the Correctional Service of Canada partnered to create what is now called Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA).

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Incest: What we know (and don’t know)

Lesleigh Pullman

Although this topic definitely does not make for good dinner conversation, attempting to understand the causes of sexual offending against children is an ongoing endeavour. But we’ve done pretty well so far. Much is known about the causes of child sexual abuse generally. Two key motivational factors that have been highlighted are atypical sexual interests and antisociality. However, much less is known about the causes of incest. Incestuous sexual offending is puzzling not only from a social and moral perspective (i.e., the incest taboo), but also from a biological perspective. Inbreeding depression (what happens when we have offspring with close relatives) increases the likelihood of birth defects and infant mortality. Presumably, we have evolved strong mechanisms for avoiding incest because sex with our relatives is bad for the survival of our genes!

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Community reboot: Getting former prisoners safely back online

Ian A. Elliott

For a number of years now I have been involved in a series of projects that have sought to answer a modern reentry conundrum: given the ubiquity and the professed positive effects of internet access, how can we safely incorporate ‘online reentry’ into parole and probation community practice, both generally and for those where internet access was a part of their crimes? How can we encourage and support internet use while at the same time impede potential criminal opportunities that such access may afford?

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Response to Ian McPhail – ‘Depth and usefulness in theories of sexual violence’

Tony Ward

In his recent nextgenforensic post commenting on my paper on theory construction in the sexual offending area (Ward, 2014) Ian McPhail identified a number of weaknesses that he believed would result in poor theory construction.  His major concern is my suggestion that integrative pluralism should guide theory construction will result in ‘bloated, ill-defined theories of sexual violence’. I take it that McPhail thinks I suggest that all researchers should pursue integrated theories in their own research programs, each attempting to build their own integrated (pluralistic) theory. That is incorrect. What I am suggesting is that the forensic/correctional research community should work in a more coordinated manner.

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