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'Victim-stancing' is quite common among
apprehended child sex offenders

Report: Reported Histories of Child Molesters with and without incentives for Honest Reporting.
Published by Jan Hindman in the South Dakota Law Review (1989)

Summary: The report sought to find the true number of perpetrators who had been childhood victims of sexual abuse themselves and to clarify the number of victims they had abused. The results showed that perpetrators use the victim excuse as a ploy to reduce their responsibility and the their numbers of victims was far higher than they had previously admitted.

Victim to Perpetrator?

Does being a victim of sexual abuse in childhood cause people to become child molesters in adulthood?

‘I’m a victim. Won’t you give me a break?’

  • ‘Victim-stancing’ is quite common among apprehended child molesters

  • Child molesters may play the ‘victim’ for a variety of reasons, e.g. to deflect blame and (responsibility), to elicit leniency in sentencing.

Realizing the deceptiveness of child molesters, sex offender specialist Jan Hindman conducted research designed to elicit truthful reporting.

Sample: approximately 300 child molesters nearly all of whom had pled guilty to incest.

Context: They were being evaluated for the purpose of sentencing recommendations court, i.e., prison, community control, etc.

When simply asked

1. Were you molested as a child?

Answer: 67% claimed they were.

2. How many children have you molested?

Answer: One or two (on average)

Incentives for Honest Reporting

  • Told that sentencing recommendations would be based on their level of ‘honesty.

  • Told that they would be polygraphed immediately after the interview.

  • Told that they would receive immunity for any previously undisclosed child molesters that they admitted (Certificate of Immunity from the District Attorney)

When provided with incentives for being honest, child molesters’ self-reports changed dramatically.

1. Were you molested as a child?

29% said yes (instead of 67%)

2. How many children have you molested?

9 victims on average (instead of 1.5)

Six times as many victims (than previously reported)


Addendum: Overlap between incest offenders and extra-familial offenders

Many child molesters molest children within and outside of the home. Many incest offenders also pose a risk to children outside the home.

  • Studies have shown that one third to one half of incest offenders also molest
    children who are not family members

  • In the Hindman study of primarily incest offenders they averaged 9 victims.
    Few families have 9 children living in the home.

About Jan Hindman: Jan Hindman studied and researched the problem of sexual abuse for thirty-four years, working with both sexual offenders and sexual victims through mental health endeavors, the educational realm, as well as private practice. She served in many national endeavors, most notably the Advisory Board of the National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse, the National Network for Juvenile Sex Offenders, and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, as well as many editorial boards and professional advocacy groups concerning victim study. (More)

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