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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“The children in the images were not harmed”: Permission-giving thoughts relating to child sexual exploitation material offending

Danielle Kettleborough

Following on from the recent blog post detailing the development of the Children, Internet, and Sex Cognitions (CISC) scale, this post will further explore the findings from this research, focusing on the permission-giving thoughts endorsed by individuals with an offence related to child sexual exploitation material (CSEM).

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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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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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Procrastinating about laziness: Sometimes we forget that deviant sexual interests are a bit complicated

Caoilte Ó Ciardha

I’m great at procrastinating, or rather; when I procrastinate I am very good at tricking myself into doing something useful. When my house is tidy, the people around me know I’m avoiding work. When I’ve actually gardened they know I’m avoiding something huge. Today, I’m trying something different – procrastinatory blogging! In admitting this I also apologise to those waiting for papers or journal reviews from me, and I apologise to my flatmates who might have reasonably expected a clean house to result from my latest bout of writer’s block. However, toiling as I am with a current piece of work and an impending deadline, I was reminded of an article that I wrote in similar circumstances.

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New Article: Tony Ward on dynamic risk factors and integrative pluralism

Ian V. McPhail

Tony Ward has recently published two interesting conceptual articles in the journals Psychology, Crime & Law and the Journal of Sexual Aggression.  You can freely download the full text here and here.

In the coming days, I will be posting some commentary on the article by Tony Ward, as I think he raises some interesting ideas but misses out on some potentially fruitful avenues of conceptualizing dynamic risk factors as constructs involved in sexual offending.  My commentary will explore some of the concepts raised by Dr. Ward, critique their perceived value, and offer some alternative ways forward in this very important non-empirical work within forensic psychological science.  Stay tuned!