Characteristics of minor attracted persons in the community: Developing a biopsychosocial-sexual typology of men with sexual interests in children

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University of New Brunswick


Research investigating causes and factors that affect sexual recidivism among heterogenous forensic populations of child sexual offenders has shown that not all child sexual offenders express pedophilic interests, and not all individuals with pedophilia sexually offend against children. Extending findings from existing studies to community populations of minor attracted persons (MAPs) who have not been involved in the criminal justice system may clarify what distinctions are related to potential risk of child sexual abuse. This dissertation employed online recruitment strategies to identify latent clusters of self-reported developmental, biopsychosocial, sexual, and behavioural characteristics of self-identified MAPs in the community. The final sample consisted of men with self-endorsed sexual interests in minors (n = 609; Mage = 29.7 years) and a comparison group of men with other paraphilic interests (n = 224; Mage = 35.3 years). Data were used to develop a psychometric typology of community members with pedohebephilic interests with no detected justice-involvement. The Vulnerability Typology emerged from latent cluster analysis, with three groups differentiated by relative of endorsement of biopsychosocial-sexual factors, labeled as low vulnerability (n = 165), moderate vulnerability (n = 270), and high vulnerability (n = 149). Multiple analysis of variance was utilized to investigate discriminating factors across groups, identifying prominent biopsychosocial-sexual characteristics within and across clusters. Overall, low vulnerability MAP profiles appeared largely healthy and unimpaired, moderate vulnerability MAPs displayed modest characteristic deficits, and MAPs in the high vulnerability group showed significant impairment across most measured vulnerability constructs. High vulnerability MAPs perceived themselves to pose highest risk for acting on pedohebephilic arousal, whereas lowest self-reported risk was observed among low vulnerability MAPs. Use of maladaptive or adaptive coping strategies did not moderate the relationship between MAP clusters and self-perceived risk of acting on sexual interest in minors. Results of this study provide guidance to inform secondary prevention and risk assessment approaches among community MAPs with no historical justice system contact related to their sexual interests in minors. Specifically, criminogenic needs and destabilizing factors in domains of antisocial cognitions, deviant sexual interests, and psychosocial functioning may be relevant targets for prevention and wellness approaches among minor attracted persons.