Challenging misconceptions about sexual offending: Creating an evidence‑based resource for police and legal practitioners

Author: 

Victoria Police

Publication date: 

15th Dec 2017

Reports of sexual offences crimes have increased over the last six years (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2016). Despite the prevalence of sexual offending in our communities, there is a lack of understanding about these crimes. Myths and misconceptions about sexual offending are common (Cossins, 2013). This is understandable, because sexual offending is a profoundly hidden crime. Much of what we know about sexual crime is imagined or gained through mainstream media (O’Hara, 2012). Most people would not be fully aware of the vast body of scientific literature regarding sexual offending. This is despite the fact that specialist knowledge is the key to effectively responding to sexual crime in the criminal justice system (Cossins, 2006). The purpose of this resource is to synthesise over 40 years of research evidence to present an accurate and updated picture of sexual offending. With specialist knowledge, we can work towards improving criminal justice responses and outcomes in cases of sexual crime.

  • This reference booklet addresses some of the most significant myths and misconceptions about adult rape and sexual offences, as well as child sexual abuse.
  • The evidence has been collated from an analysis of the psychological and criminological literature.
  • It provides a clear picture of what should be considered a misconception, alongside the currentevidence of what is considered “typical” and “common” behaviour in both offenders and victims.

There are multiple ways that this resource could be used. It may be useful as a guide to assist fact finders at different stages of the criminal justice process.

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