Abstract: Adverse Childhood Experiences in Minor-Attracted Persons (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Adverse Childhood Experiences in Minor-Attracted Persons

Friday, January 17, 2020
Liberty Ballroom K, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Melissa Grady, PhD, Associate Professor, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC
Jill Levenson, PhD, Professor, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL
Sexual abuse prevention efforts must take multiple forms, including identifying at risk individuals. One population that is garnering more attention is minor-attracted persons (MAPs). MAPs self-identify as being attracted to children, but commit to not acting on these attractions as they aware of the negative impact child sexual abuse can have on the children (Mitchell & Galupo, 2016). Researchers and practitioners are only beginning to learn about this population, as MAPs have often avoided seeking help from professionals (Levenson & Grady, 2018) due to fears of judgement and experiencing stigma, and other negative consequences (Grady, Levenson, Mesias, & Kavanaugh, 2018; Jahnke, Philipp, & Hoyer, 2015).

            To provide services that best address the needs of MAPs and thereby encourage the prevention of child sexual abuse, social workers need more information. To date, little is known about the childhood experiences of MAPs, and how these experiences compare to individuals who have committed sexual offenses (ISOs) and the general population (GP). This study’s aim was to explore these comparisons.

            The participants were a non-random, purposive sample of MAPs who participated in an on-line anonymous survey. The final total included in the study was 133 adult males who completed the survey after responding to an invitation to participate via websites from three national and international organizations focused on providing education, on-line support, and interactions with individuals who are concerned about their attractions to minors. Included in the study survey was the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) scale (CDC, 2013), a 10-item dichotomous scale in which participants endorse or deny experiences prior to 18 years of age.

            This study compared the ACE items for MAPs to a previous study that calculated the odds ratios between ISOs and GP based on a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study (Levenson, Willis, & Prescott, 2014). Odds ratios for all group comparisons on each item of the ACE will be shown in the presentation. MAPs were much more likely to have experienced all forms of ACEs other than sexual abuse compared to the GP, especially verbal/emotional abuse and neglect. However, there were fewer differences between the MAPs and ISO. Correlations analysis demonstrated that the vast majority of the traumatic experiences co-occur, indicating that these men experienced multiple forms of trauma over the course of their lifetimes, with 51.7% reporting 4 or more ACEs.

            Possible explanations for these findings, such as how ACEs may have influenced different risk factors, such as impulsivity or interpersonal patterns, will be discussed. In addition, we will review directions for future research and the implications for treatment providers and how social workers can contribute to prevention efforts by being a resource for MAPs.