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Abstract: Risk Factors for the Onset of Sexual Offending: A Nationwide, Case–Control Study on Parental and Birth Factors

Our early environment matters. There is a breath of evidence to suggest that prenatal (before birth) and perinatal factors (around birth) are important predictors of wide range of later life outcome. For example, adverse early environment (e.g., low birth weight) has been linked to poorer cognitive outcome (Griffin, Mann, & McDermott, 2011), psychopathology (Johnco et al., 2015), and internalizing and externalizing problems (Robinson et al., 2009). There is also evidence to suggest that perinatal complications are associated with pedophilia diagnosed in adulthood (e.g., Cantor et al., 2005).

This talk will provide an overview of recent research that examined a number of parental and birth risk factors for sexual offending behaviours, using Swedish population-based registries. I will summarize new findings that identify factors that increase the risk of committing sexual offences amongst men. Second, the extent to which these risk factors are specific to sexual offending or concordant with risk factors of non-sexual violent offending will be summarized. Finally, the implications of these studies for the etiology of sexual offending and how it can inform prevention and early intervention efforts will be summarized.


Kelly M. Babchishin, Ph.D. is a Banting (Canadian Institute of Mental Health Research) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Mental Health Research and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Kelly’s doctoral dissertation examined change in acute risk factors of sex offenders; her current research involves identifying early risk factors for the onset of sexual offending. Her other research interests include online sexual offending, pedophilia, incest, and risk assessment. Kelly is a co-editor of Nextgenforensic, an academic community blog dedicated to sharing research on sexual violence. She is also a member of the Global Young Academy, an international association of early-career scientists with the aim of ensuring that global decision making is evidenced-based.