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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shifting the focus : a multimethod exploration of resiliency among child-attracted persons Mundy, Crystal Lea


Existing literature suggests that a variety of biopsychosocial factors may be related to sexual attraction to children, but why some individuals successfully refrain from offending remains largely unknown. Emerging research has examined the experiences of child-attracted persons. Child-attracted person is a modified version of the self-referential term minor-attracted person, used to describe an individual who is sexually attracted to individuals under the legal age of consent, which varies by legal system. This research program used a multimethod approach to explore heterogeneity among child-attracted persons. First, quantitative data were collected from 116 self-identified child-attracted persons and 208 university students. Participants completed an online survey of 11 self-report measures, assessing a variety of factors that have been found to be related to sexual offending, such as emotional congruence, sexual narcissism, negative affect scales, and personality. Comparative analyses indicated many similarities between the samples, although there were several key differences. A latent profile analysis indicated that a four-profile model best fit the data. The child-attracted profiles were labelled socially energized, psychologically distressed, interpersonally problematic, and childhood focused. Although the profiles differed with respect to key resiliency factors, they did not differ in terms of most demographic characteristics. Second, qualitative data were collected from 23 self-identified child-attracted persons in the form of semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data uncovered several key themes across the interviews, including understanding attraction to children as a sexual orientation; how such attractions are viewed and treated societally; engagement in sexuality; mental health concerns and associated therapy services; and the overall impact of the attraction. Finally, several measures related to attraction to children were modified and analyzed for statistical reliability. Taken together, the findings of this research program support the presence of heterogeneity among the child-attracted community. This supports the necessity to develop assessment and treatment options that incorporate such differences. Further, the findings of the research program, and other emerging research exploring sexual attraction to children, suggest serious negative mental health outcomes associated with identifying as attracted to children and with the associated stigma, often beginning in adolescence. These findings underscore the need to continue to pursue research in this area and develop further understandings of sexual attraction to children and related outcomes.

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