Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Female Sex Offenders

What Were They Thinking?

Klaus M. Beier
Klaus M. Beier

In the February/March 2007 issue of Scientific American Mind, sex researcher Klaus M. Beier, at the Institute of Sexual Science and Sexual Medicine in Berlin, states, "There is no such thing as a pedophile woman," even if females commit child abuse. "I have never seen or heard of a single case over the course of my career."

Yet how would he explain the female predators who repeatedly target children of a specific age for sexual abuse? Their activities are similar to those of males, as are their erotic attractions. Can it make any sense to state so definitely that a female cannot be a pedophile? The opinions on this issue are mixed.

According to a list of 21 characteristics and behavioral indicators of a pedophile from the Department of Justice, if we eliminate the requirement that the offender be male, many of the other characteristics apply:

  1. Usually married
  2. Relates better to children than adults
  3. Prefers children in a specific age group
  4. Usually prefers either males or females
  5. May seek employment or volunteer in programs that allow them to be near children in their preferred group
  6. Pursues children for sexual purposes
  7. May furnish narcotics or alcohol to child to lower inhibitions
  8. May go to great lengths to conceal their activity
  9. Is usually intelligent enough to recognize she has a problem
  10. Often rationalizes her illicit activities, emphasizing the positive impact on the victim
  11. Talks about children in the same manner one would use to talk about adult lovers
  12. Is usually nonviolent and has few problems with the law.
  13. Access to pornography

We left off association with pedophilic organizations and correspondences with other pedophiles, which are primarily male behaviors, but many of the other behavioral and personality symptoms attributed to male pedophiles are true of these female teachers, especially those who target more than one victim. The difference appears to lie primarily in the intensity of the fantasies about children, perhaps motivating more frequent voyeuristic activities. Looking at this list, it seems safe to say that at least some of these women fill the bill.

This same publication from NIJ insists that the conception that child molesters are strangers who go out and snatch children off the streets "couldn't be further from the truth." The majority, it indicates, are adults who seduce children through subtle intimidation and persuasion, and they are usually people the child knows.

Whether or not we can classify a female offender as an outright pedophile, according to the DSM-IV, there seems little doubt that they are sex offenders of some variety.

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