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Abstract: The Characteristics of Online Sexual Offenders

As online offenders increasingly come to the attention of criminal justice systems, it is important to understand how they compare to traditional sex offenders. Online offenders are not a homogeneous group, and many would be expected to closely resemble traditional sex offenders in terms of psychology and sexual activities. Other online offenders appear to be specialists, with activities focussed on online activity (with or without an identifiable victim). In this presentation, I will review recent studies and meta-analyses examining the characteristics of online offenders and their recidivism risk. Compared to traditional sexual offenders, online offenders are more likely to have deviant sexual interests; however, they are also more likely to have psychological barriers that prevent them from acting directly on these interests (e.g., self-control, victim empathy). Their observed sexual recidivism rates are low.

 

R. Karl Hanson, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Officer with Public Safety Canada and is one of the leading researchers in the field of sexual offender risk assessment and treatment. Dr. Hanson has published more than 100 articles, including several significant meta-analyses, and was co-developer of the most widely used risk assessment tool for sexual offenders, the Static- 99. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, and was the 2002 recipient of the Significant Achievement Award from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA).