Key risk factors in paedophilia revealed
AT LEAST one in eight boys who were victims of sex abuse grow up to be paedophiles themselves, according to research published yesterday.
Among other revelations, the Great Ormond Street Hospital study found that boys who were abused by women and who had shown cruelty to animals were much more likely to be child abusers in later life. Scientists hailed the discovery of this and other key risk factors as "a significant step" for treating and preventing child sex abuse.
The research, published this week in the medical journal Lancet, found that 26 of the 224 former victims studied went on to commit sex offences, nearly all of which involved children.
This proportion of victims who turn offenders - 12 per cent - is lower than anecdotal evidence from those working in the field would suggest.
But the hospital team said that could be because its study focused on men who had been convicted of criminal offences.
If the boy had been abused by a woman, suffered material neglect or lack or supervision while a child, the risk of him becoming an abuser later rose three-fold, the study said.
One third of abused boys who later became abusers had been cruel to animals in childhood, the research found. An atmosphere of violence in the home - even if the boy was not the direct victim - also increased the risk.
Professor David Skuse, of the Institute for Child Health at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, said the findings should lead to better treatment programmes. " We hope this is a significant step towards tackling paedophilia at source," he said.
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