Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men | adult skills

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men. One of the scare tactics that has been used to prejudice people against homosexual men is the message that they are dangerous to children. This belief has been so widespread that in many places in the world — and even some institutions in the United States — gay men (and in some cases, lesbians) are barred from working with children in the capacity of nannies, teachers, or scout leaders. Certainly, there have been cases of molestation of children by gay men, but the truth is that by far most molestation of children has been committed by heterosexual men.

We hear so many stories, however, about young boys being molested by adult men that the idea that most perpetrators are heterosexual sounds somewhat counter-intuitive. After all, if a man molests a male child, is it not, by definition, a homosexual act? The answer is complex but, as we will show in this discussion, despite the stories that make headlines most cases of child molestation involve heterosexual men and young girls. Moreover, pederasts (adults who sexualize children) are most often attracted by a child’s immature body and not necessarily picky about gender. There are certainly cases of young boys molested by gay men — but that is only a small part of a much larger, sadder, and scarier picture.

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men
Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

Who Molests Children?
Studies indicate there are two kinds of child molesters: most common is the situational child molester who would prefer to have sex with an adult but will use a child if no other opportunities are available. Somewhat rarer are adults who actually prefer children to adult partners and who use child pornography and other aids that objectify children for sexual arousal. The offenders who prefer very young children are generally unlikely to differentiate between boys and girls (Roesler and Poyer, 1994). If the person sexualizes older, postpubescent children, however, he is likely to prefer one sex or the other.

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

Men (and it is primarily men) who prefer children have been labeled as “fixated” by some researchers, and the general understanding is that these kind of offenders have been sexually attracted to young children since adolescence. While they may have sex with peers or even partners who are older than themselves, those adult sexual acts are happenstance because their fixation is never replaced by age-appropriate sexual partners (Groth and Birnbaum, 1978).

They are attracted to immature bodies. Some are slightly more attracted to boys than girls, but studies indicate they prefer boys who have a “feminine” presentation, such as having no facial hair, body hair, or muscles (Groth and Birnbaum, 1978).

In contrast, other men primarily have sex with adults but find themselves desiring younger children when they are stressed in their primary adult relationship. These offenders are almost always heterosexually attracted (Groth and Birnbaum, 1978).

Innumerable Studies
Child sexual abuse is a much underreported crime because victims are often scared to come forward. Even when reported it can be hard to convict sex offenders. For this reason, statistics on child sexual abuse are difficult to calculate and the details of any one case can be hard to determine. Still, innumerable studies over the years have found that most abuse is enacted by heterosexual males. This is not a new or startling finding. (Balsam et al., 2005;
Turner et al., 2007; Peter, 2009; Putnam, 2003; Shusterman et al., 2005; Zink et al., 2009).

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

In fact, one study found the rates of pedophilia so low among homosexuals that the authors hypothesized, “The possibility emerges that homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia may be mutually exclusive” (Groth and Birnbaum, 1978). They go on to say, “the child offender who is also attracted to and engaged in adult sexual relationships is heterosexual. It appears, therefore, that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater sexual risk to underage children than does the adult homosexual male” (Groth and Birnbaum, 1978.

One study used an innovative design to determine who was more likely to abuse children. It looked at the medical records of children evaluated for sexual abuse at a hospital. The cases included 276 girls and 76 boys. The mean age of the children was 6 years old but the range went as young as an infant and as old as 17. Abuse was judged not to have occurred at all in 35 of the cases. Another 74 cases involved children who were abused by peers or teenagers less than 18 years old. Of the remaining 269 cases, only two abusers were identified to be gay or lesbian. In 83% of the cases, the presumed offender was the heterosexual partner of someone in the child’s family.

In another study of 136 convicted child molesters, over 80% had been in a committed adult heterosexual relationship at the time of the victimization and at trial (Roesler and Poyer, 1994, p. 43). The authors concluded that if this sample were typical, “a child’s risk of being molested by his or her relative’s heterosexual partner is over 100 times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual” (Roesler and Poyer, 1994).

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

Researchers have also noted that children living with same-sex couples experience less abuse than their peers. An in-depth longitudinal study of kids, aged 17, who had grown up in a lesbian household asked 39 girls and 39 boys if they’d ever been physically, sexually, or mentally abused at home. None of these adolescents indicated any kind of abuse by either a parent or caretaker (Gartrell et al., 2011, p. 1199). In fact, all studies (with the exception of those sponsored by ideological anti-gay groups) have found that kids in a same-sex parent household are unlikely to be abused (Bos et al., 2007; Bos and Sandfort, 2010; Gartrell and Bos, 2010; Gartrell et al., 2005; Golombok, 2007; Perrin, 2002; Tasker, 2005; Vanfraussen et al., 2002).

Witch Hunts
Given the data, we have to ask ourselves why homosexuals are tagged with such a hideous reputation for child abuse. Certainly, homophobia and discrimination in general are at the root. But the myth persists, even as same-sex marriages become more accepted and discrimination against gays and lesbians begins to wane. We believe there are a few explanations for this.

First, there are splinter groups of men, some of whom are gay, who wish to legitimize the sexual predation of young people. Some of these “man-boy-love” groups publish propaganda on the internet about why adult–child sexual liaisons are “good” for adolescent boys. These men are disowned by the vast majority of gay men and women but their existence has been utilized by anti-gay groups to prove that molestation is a gay phenomenon (Brongersma, 1991).

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

Another big issue over the last 10 years or more has been the stories of Catholic priests across the United States who were found to have abused young boys for years without ever being punished (Clark, 2006). These revelations, deeply disturbing to Roman Catholics and to the public at large, received a great deal of publicity and much was made of the fact that Catholic priests have to be celibate.

Media pundits, religious scholars, and sexologists were forced to speculate about whether the priesthood attracts men who are conflicted about their sexual orientation (the Church does not, after all, accept homosexuality) and whether it is this conflict that culminates in the abuse of young boys. Given how widespread the problem within the Church is, one could argue that the priesthood selects for a larger than chance number of men who force themselves on boys and abuse the trust that the Church, families, and children had granted them, but we don’t yet understand why.

While the stories that came to light illuminated a hidden horror in many young boys’ lives, they do not represent the reality of the usual ratio of heterosexual to homosexual child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, they have reinforced the erroneous notion that gay men pose a danger to children. Based on these beliefs, there have been modern attempts to legally forbid gay
men and women from working with or caring for children. For example, a Colorado initiative in the early 1990s made a point of linking homosexuality with pedophilia. At that time a group called Colorado for Family Values put out a patently false statement asserting that gay people were responsible for 50% of all child molestation (Brongersma, 1991; Roesler and Poyer, 1994.

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

These kind of false statistics have fueled fights in many states over whether gay and lesbian couples can become foster or adoptive parents. In some states, lawyers representing same-sex couples who want to become foster parents or adoptive parents have successfully argued against constraints on gay parenting, in part by presenting voluminous data on why homosexuals are actually less likely to be abusive than heterosexuals. But other states continue to see gay and lesbian couples as unfit to be adoptive or foster parents (Arkansas Department of human Services, 2010; Falk, 1989; Ford, 2010; Golombok and Tasker, 1994; Patterson, 1992).

This witch hunt that accuses gay men of being likely pedophiles has also played out in schools. Administrators, eager to protect themselves against accusations of child endangerment, seem to focus on the widely reported cases in which teachers or coaches have molested a boy, and forget about the dozens of cases more that involved a heterosexual teacher’s victimization of a girl, not to mention the increasing number of reported cases that involve sexual relations between young female teachers and male high school students. Their selective memory then affects hiring and firing practices.

Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men
Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men
Most Child Molesters Are Gay Men

In 2014, an administrator in a Catholic high school in Seattle, Washington married his same-sex partner, and when the administration of the high school found out, the man was immediately fired. Parent groups protested and asked for the administrator to be reinstated, but he was not. In this case religious values interacted with values about child protection — and of course, the church was super-sensitive about homosexuality for many reasons, not the least of which was their recent experience with predatory priests.

The Boy Scouts have also made headlines for the organization’s long-standing policy that prohibited gay and lesbian parents from being scout leaders as well as openly gay boys from being members. Under intense pressure both from inside and outside the organization, there was a vote on this rule which resulted in a positive change. As of January 2014, the scouts will allow gay members. However, the vote stopped short of changing the policy for adults, so gay and lesbian parents of boy scouts are still prohibited from serving as troup leaders (Boy Scouts of America, 2013). It does seem like change is in the air — unfortunately, the misperceptions about homosexuals as likely child molesters linger and progress has been far too slow.

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