This may come as a surprise. There is a common misconception that all child sex offenders are men. But women child sex offenders do exist, although they differ from male counterparts in several ways. How many women abuse? The author of the UK report acknowledged the number may be lower than the reality.
A study looked at virtually every substantiated child sexual abuse case reported to child protective services in the United States in In , the BBC reported a large rise in the number of children calling the UK charity Childline to report sexual abuse by a female. Between and , 2, children reported they had been sexually victimised by a female. Why do women abuse? There are some important points of difference between male and female perpetrators of child sex abuse. Generally speaking, females tend to offend against younger victims and are less discriminant about victim gender.
There are a number of theories as to why women sexually abuse children. Researchers suggest some women abuse their own daughters as a result of narcissistic tendencies.
Some women abuse their own daughters as a result of narcissistic tendencies. This comprises women in their 30s who victimise males with an average age of 12 years. The women may see the relationship as based on love, and may not see it as abusive or recognise its inappropriate nature. Women in this group can be driven by a need for intimacy and trying to compensate for emotional needs not met elsewhere.
This group can include the female teachers who become sexually involved with male pupils. They are invested in the idea of a relationship, find adolescent boys less threatening than men of their own age, and have more control over the relationship. Women in this group often experience abuse themselves and may have addictive personalities.
Research has routinely indicated that women are 4. They may think co-abuse will actually bring them closer together as a couple. Many of the offences include forcing behaviours — such as forcing young girls into prostitution. Here the motivation might be more economic than sexual in nature. I worked on a case involving a childcare worker who took indecent images of children and distributed them across a paedophile network.
During the police interview she expressed no sexual gratification in the acts she photographed. In my experience, I have never seen a man involved in the sexual abuse of children or paedophile rings who did not express a sexual attraction for children.
But female child sex offenders are a mixed group and while for some, the sexual abuse of children is purely financially driven, other women engage in abuse as well. An example would be the infamous UK case of Marie Black , who was jailed in for 23 offences including rape, conspiracy to rape, and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Her victims were five young children: A key point of difference between male and female sexual abusers of children is in the power relationship with their victims. Sex crimes perpetrated by men are considered crimes of power over the victim. But while female sex offending can be control-driven, the need for intimacy seems to play a larger role than domination.
Is child sexual abuse by women on the rise? The evidence does not necessarily indicate child sexual abuse by women is increasing. But it may indicate that — due to increased media attention — more children feel comfortable to speak out without fear of stigmatisation.
Our current understanding of women who sexually abuse children is founded on very limited research. Therefore, we need to reconstruct our ideas about child sex offenders to include woman as a distinct sub-group, and undertake considerably more research to get a better understanding of the causes behind these offences.