Female offenders in child sexual abuse cases: a national picture

J Child Sex Abus. 2015;24(1):97-114. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2015.978925.


Female sexual offenders are significantly underrepresented in the literature. Largely due to a failure of our society to recognize women as offenders, we allow them to avoid detection, prosecution, and interventions like tracking, registration, or mandated treatment. This could be partially due to differences that exist in their offending behaviors, victim profiles, and personal characteristics that set them apart from male offenders, to whom our systems have become more attuned. This article features an examination of virtually every substantiated child sexual abuse case reported to child protective services in the United States for 2010. Findings detail observed differences between male and female offenders on multiple domains and affirm female sexual offenders to be distinctly different from their male counterparts.

Keywords: abuse; child; female; gender; molestation; offender; protection; sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult