(Received 29 July 1997; accepted 12 November 1997)
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Background data on psychosocial characteristics of sexual offenders are sparse in Europe. From 67 experts' reports done between 1982 and 1995 in Geneva, Switzerland, demographic, criminological and psychiatric characteristics were collected for three groups of sexual offenders: offenders against adults, offenders against non-relative minors (<18 yr), and offenders against minors with incest. The results showed that the offenders against adults were younger (p = 0.02), more frequently single 9p = 0.0007) and with a lower educational level (p = 0.05) than the offenders against minors. Incest offenders had no prior conviction compared with 50% of the other offenders. Violence was more often used by offenders against adults (86%) than by offenders against minors (45%) (p = 0.005). About two-thirds of the sexual offenders had no psychiatric history, but a personality disorder (mainly borderline) was diagnosed in half of the offenders. A history of sexual abuse during childhood was reported by a third of the offenders against minors and by 5% of the offenders against adults (p = 0.04).
It is concluded that a low socio-economic status and social isolation characterized offenders against adults, whereas offenders against minors had a relatively normal psychosocial profile.
Medical Statistics Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London,
Geneva University, Institute of Forensic Medicine, Geneva 4,
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