Are Non-Straight Men More Likely To Engage In Child Sexual Abuse?

Let the fireworks begin!

In the course of a conversation on Twitter, I was asked a question along the lines of whether I thought “gays” were more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than straights. So I decided to keep as open a mind as I could manage, and look at the question:

Definitional Preliminaries

As most of us know, arriving at an answer can often be skewed by how a question is framed.

So, I’ll take a stab at it: Are non-straight men more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than straight men?

Why “non-straight”? Because “homosexual” (or “homosexualist” for you Gore Vidal fans), although more descriptive than the silly and useless term “gay,” would exclude bisexuals who nevertheless have a preference for men, “regressed adult homosexuals,” and “regressed adult bisexuals.” (1) By straight men, I mean men who are attracted exclusively (or at least overwhelmingly) to women. females.

And why the wording “engage in child sexual abuse” instead of “be pedophiles”? Because such attractions that are not acted on, and, even when they can be accurately measured, are less the issue (however troublesome in their own right) than actual sexual abuse.

As for the term pedophile, it is a frequently-misused word that has a specific meaning pertaining to pre-pubescent minors. (2)

And why just male offenders? Because child sexual abuse by women appears to be statistically-insignificant. (3)

Finally, “child sexual abuse” (CSA) generally refers to when an “adult engages in sexual activity with a minor or exploits a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification.” (4)

How Should We Look At The Data?

Perhaps the ideal approach would be to look at the total population of abusers (not just those convicted of child sex abuse), non-straight versus straight, via large, anonymous, controlled studies–but that would involve capturing arousal biometrics and/or self-reporting of sexual orientation (as well as self-reporting of abusive acts–because, again, we are looking at sexual abuse, not sexual attraction). Not a likely avenue for answering our question.

Or we could look at victim self-reports (via anonymous, controlled surveys) of abuse, and assume that, if the victims and abusers are both male, that the abusers are non-straight, and compare to male-on-female numbers.

Or, perhaps most rationally, we could rely on crime report (not necessarily convictions) statistics, and compare male-on-male CSA to male-on-female, assuming again that the male-on-male was by a non-straight perpetrator.

But here’s the rub:

“Males, especially as children and youth, are less likely to disclose abuse…Because a lot of our stories about men is that they’re sort of in charge sexually, when there is sexual abuse it really undercuts all of our social scripts. It is not only a violation of a boy’s boundaries and their most personal autonomy, that biggest right to privacy of the self, but it also contradicts their sense of masculinity.” (5)

Yes, that’s just one quote, but I challenge anyone arguing against my conclusion to refute the assertion, repeated over and over again among those who deal with male victims of male perpetrators of CSA, that those victims are less likely to report CSA than female victims.

(And since male victims are far less likely to report their abuse, one is left to wonder whether that fact gives male abusers a greater sense of confidence that any abuse of additional victims will also go unreported.)

Conclusion

The following is typical of the argument against the idea that non-straight men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than straight men:

“The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children.” (1)

But nowhere in those arguments are you likely to find any admission that male victims of male abusers are less likely to report abuse. And the absence of such admissions clearly demonstrate the paucity of their own “empirical data.”

So the answer is yes: Non-straight men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than straight men.

“Lies, damnable lies, and statistics” certainly applies to the cottage industry of disproving supposed “bigots” in the absence of meaningful data that would confirm their claims.

Addendum

“Based on several large studies, a rough estimate is that one out of every six men and one out of every four women will experience sexual abuse of some sort before age 16…” (5)

If we assume that most of those women were abused by straights, and most of those men were abused by non-straights, and we further assume that around 5% or so of the male population is gay, then those who argue there is no difference between straights and non-straights vis CSA are not only wrong, they are wrong but by orders of magnitude.

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Note: Comments that cannot manage to be civil will be deleted. Make your case in the same even tone that I have, or don’t waste my time.

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1. “Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation.” (link)

2. “Pedophilia.” (link)

3. “Female child molesters.” (link)

4. “Child sexual abuse.” (link)

5. “Male victims of sexual abuse face unique challenges.” (link)

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