Description: This study utilized a qualitative/phenomenological research methodology to study the development of child molestation. Five volunteer male juvenile perpetrators of child molestation and their consenting family members participated in three one-on-one in-depth interviews. The juveniles were referred by juvenile justice departments in Texas. The investigation was pursued along three paths: (1) what factors in the perpetrators' life experiences may have influenced the formation of molesting thought and behavior patterns? (2) how did the perpetrators construe social relationships? (3) in developing sexual preference, what process did the perpetrators utilize to achieve the degree of sexual arousal needed to motivate the act of molestation? During analysis, 16 categories and 9 subcategories were developed from the data; these were evaluated in order to address the lines of inquiry listed above. Factors contributing toward deviancy were identified: these included general environmental factors and relationship issues with both parents and peers. The data also elucidated the perpetrators' characteristic ways of viewing themselves and other people, as well as the strategies that they relied upon to cope with their lives. These same strategies were subsequently used in their molesting. The results revealed that the answers to the investigational questions posed above were synthesized by the individual across the lifespan, with origins in childhood when the concepts of self, others, social convention and interpersonal relationships were forming. It is likely that the typical interest in sexual expression that occurs at the onset of puberty was a catalyst that facilitated molesting behavior. The lack of ability to interact successfully with age mates appeared to influence the perpetrators' selection of children as targets. Recommendations were presented for consideration by the mental health and criminal justice communities based on the findings. Also, preventative measures for the public sector were offered.
Date: May 1996
Creator: Edmonds, Marilyn S. (Marilyn Sue)