In June of 2022, celebrating Pride Month seems pointless and insincere while massive energy is being spent conflating homosexuality with pedophilia and accusing anyone who teaches children about sexual orientation of “grooming” children for sexual abuse.

Misinformation and hysteria around this topic threaten to stigmatize LGBTQI+ people further and don’t protect children. So, let’s start with some facts.

Are most child sex offenders heterosexual?

Yes. Most child sex offenders consider themselves heterosexual [1]. Jerry Sandusky and Jared Fogel are two famous examples of married, heterosexual sex offenders who fathered children.

Sound somewhat improbable? Stories of Catholic priests molesting boys have been ongoing for decades, and nearly 100,000 men have sued the Boy Scouts of America for child sexual abuse that happened to them as children. 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Pedophilia, the sexual attraction to prepubescent children (not the act of sexually abusing children), is very different from sexual attraction to adults.
  • Scanning headlines is a terrible way to understand child sexual abuse. Let’s unpack that.

Demographic characteristics of a child sex offender

Most sex offenders are male. Researchers agree that sexual abuse by women is under-reported and under-documented, but even with this factored in, men are more likely to sexually abuse a child than women are. [4]

The demographics of sex offenders mirror the demographics of America. That means no racial group, educational level, or income bracket is more or less likely to be a sex offender than any other. And sex offenders are as likely to be married or married and divorced as other American men. [3]

Sexual abuse and sexual orientation of child sex offenders

Most people who sexually abuse children also experience heterosexual attraction to adults. Someone who has sexual relationships with adult women may sexually abuse boys, and someone who sexually abuses children of one sex is likely to abuse children of the other sex. [5] 

Are gay people more likely to be child sex offenders?

Researchers have studied the question of homosexual men being more likely to sexually abuse children, as well as the question of homosexual men being sexually attracted to boys. In a one-year period at a major child abuse center, less than 1% of the abusers who were identified were in a homosexual relationship

Another study looked at sexual attraction to children among heterosexual and homosexual men (not everyone who is sexually attracted to children will abuse them, but there is a correlation between the two things). Researchers found that gay men were no more likely to be attracted to prepubescent boys than straight men were to be attracted to prepubescent girls. 

How can we protect children from child sex abuse?

If we can’t figure out who is a sex offender and who isn’t, how can we protect children?

The only effective way is for parents to assume everyone their children come in contact with is a potential sex offender. All parents should take a class about child sexual abuse and its prevention. All parents should insist that everyone who provides services to their child (schools, after-school centers, medical providers, etc.) understand and uphold child sexual abuse prevention best practices. 

Parents must do everything in their power to keep their children from being in one-child one-adult situations. They must learn to communicate with children about sexual anatomy, sexuality, and sexual abuse from an early age. Educating children about the basics of sex is NOT groomingit’s the complete opposite of it.  

Understanding that the world is full of people who want to sexually abuse children is terrifying, and learning that these people seem completely normal and cannot be picked out of a crowd is even scarier. But accepting the truth means we can protect children, and that’s always worth doing. 

[1] Able GG, Harlow, N. The Stop Child Molestation Book, (2001) Xlibris books
[2] Able GG, Harlow, N. The Stop Child Molestation Book, (2001) Xlibris books
[3] The Able and Harlow Child Molestation Preventions Study 
[4] Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders- Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children. Salter, Anna Basic Books. New York (2003).
[5] Able GG, Harlow, N. The Stop Child Molestation Book, (2001) Xlibris books
Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals?

C Jenny 1, T A Roesler, K L Poyer

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Melanie Blow

Melanie Blow

Executive Director, Stop Abuse Campaign

A survivor of incest, psychological abuse and a host of other childhood trauma, Melanie now uses her talents to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences. Melanie has over a decade of legislative advocacy regarding children’s issues, and she has been published in newspapers, magazines and blogs all across the country.

Melanie has an ACE score of 6.

Authors express their own opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stop Abuse Campaign.