Profiles of criminal groups: Child molester and rapist groups compared


  • Marie Connolly Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
  • Richard Woollons Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury.


child sexual abusers, adult offending, child molestation and rapist groups, offending pathways, patterns of experience,


Increased research interest exploring the characteristics of men who sexually offend has indicated that certain patterns of experience may influence offending pathways. This study outlines the results of a questionnaire that was administered to men who have been imprisoned for child molestation and rape, to explore the links between adult offending and early childhood experience. This paper draws together the characteristics of the child molester and rapist groups in offender-specific profiles, and discusses this in relation to similar comparative research.


Barbaree, H. E., Hudson, S. M., & Seto, M. C. (1993). Sexual assault in society: The role of the juvenile offender. In H. E. Barbaree, W. L. Marshall, & S. M. Hudson (Eds.) The juvenile sex offender. New York: The Guilford Press.

Bard, L. A., Carter, D. L., Cerce, D. D., Knight, R. A., Rosenberg, R., & Schneider, B. (1987). A descriptive study of rapists and child molesters: Developmental, clinical and criminal characteristics. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 5(2), 203-220.

Bass, B. A., & Levant, M. D. (1992). Family perception of rapists and pedophiles. Psychological Reports, 71(1): 211- 214.

Connolly, M., & Woollons, R. (in press). Childhood sexual experience and adult offending: A comparison of three criminal groups. Child Abuse Review.

Hillbrand, M., Foster, H., & Hirt, M. (1990). Rapists and child molesters: Psychometric comparisons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 19(1): 65-71.

Lofland, J., & Lofland, L. (1984). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Marshall, W.L., Barbaree, H.E. & Christophe, D. (1988). Sexual offenders against female children: Sexual preferences for age of victims and type of behaviour. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 18(4): 424-439.

Marshall, W. L., Christie, M. M., & Lanthier, R. D. (1979). Social competence, sexual experience and attitudes to sex in incarcerated rapists and pedophiles. Report to the Solicitor General of Canada: Ottawa.

Miner, M. H., & Dwyer, S. M. (1997). The psychosocial development of sex offenders: Differences between exhibitionists, child molesters, and incest offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 41(1), 36-44.

Nugent, P. M., & Kroner, D. G. (1996). Denial response styles and admittance of offenses among child molesters and rapists. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 11(4), 475-486.

Overholser, J. C., & Beck, S. J. (1990). The classification of rapists and child molesters. Journal of Offender Counseling, Services & Rehabilitation, 14(2), 169-179. (Ch. 6).

Polaschek, D. L. L., Ward, T., & Hudson, S. M. (1997). Rape and rapists: Theory and treatment. Clinical Psychology Review, 17(2), 117-144.

Porter, S., Fairweather, D., Drugge, J., Herve, H., Bert, A., & Boer, D. P. (2000). Profiles of psychopathy in incarcerated sexual offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 27(2), 216-233. (Ch. 6).

Stokes, M. E., Davis, C. S., & Koch, G. G. (1995). Categorical data analysis using the SAS system. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.

Tingle, D., Barnard, G. W., Robbins, L., Newman, G., & Hutchinson, D. (1986). Childhood and adolescent characteristics of pedophiles and rapists. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 9(1), 103-116.

Tolich, M., & Davidson C. (1999). Starting fieldwork: An introduction to qualitative research in New Zealand. Auckland: Oxford University Press.

Ward, T., Hudson, S. M., Marshall, W. L., & Siegert, R. (1995). Attachment style and intimacy deficits in sexual offenders: A theoretical framework. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 7(4), 317-335.




How to Cite

Connolly, M., & Woollons, R. (2022). Profiles of criminal groups: Child molester and rapist groups compared. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 19(3), 3–11. Retrieved from