Detecting anomalous sexual interests in juvenile sex offenders

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;989:118-30; discussion 144-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2003.tb07298.x.


Phallometric studies suggest that some adolescent sex offenders exhibit anomalous sexual interests. However, there have been ethical and practical objections to the phallometric testing of adolescents. Alternative measures may be needed if we are to understand the role of anomalous sexual interests in adolescent sexual offending. The Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interests (SSPI) was designed as a brief measure of pedophilic interests based on sexual offense history variables: any male victims, more than one victim, any victims under age 12, and any unrelated victims. Score on the SSPI is significantly and positively correlated with phallometrically measured pedophilic interests among adult offenders against children. In this study, the SSPI was scored in three samples of adolescent sex offenders who underwent phallometric testing for pedophilic interests. Scores on the SSPI were positively correlated with a phallometric index of relative sexual arousal to children in all three samples. This relationship was strongest using visual stimuli. The positive relationship between SSPI scores and pedophilic responding held up despite the use of different penile measures, stimulus sets, procedures, and scoring methods. The usefulness of the SSPI as a proxy measure among adolescents is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pedophilia / psychology
  • Penis / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Plethysmography
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires