University of Limerick
Lennon_2015_Perspectives.pdf (4.34 MB)

The perspectives of professionals who work with sexual offenders on how individuals come to sexually abuse children

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posted on 2022-09-12, 10:34 authored by Aisling Lennon
People hold powerful, emotionally salient beliefs towards sexual offenders (Petrunik & Deutschman, 2008; Petrunik & Weisman, 2005; Willis, Malinen, & Johnston,2013) that most likely encompass attributions as to why offenders sexually abuse children (Lea, Auburn, & Kibblewhite, 1999). Individuals who work with offenders are in a unique position as they interact with offenders, have received professional training and are embedded in the wider sociocultural environment encompassing strong emotional reactions to child sexual abuse. To date, research has neglected to explore the experiences that may have influenced individuals’ understandings of why offenders abuse children. The aim of the present study is to explore the work related experiences of individuals who work with sex offenders, specifically those that have impacted their understandings of how an individual comes to abuse a child. A qualitative approach embedded in a phenomenological epistemology was employed to explore participants’ perceptions of how offenders came to abuse children. Seven professionals who work regularly with adult male sexual offenders convicted of abusing children, took part in an in depth interview. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith, Flowers & Larkin,2009) was used to examine participants’ accounts of their experiences, and their beliefs and understandings about sexual offending perpetrated against children. Identified themes related to participants’ ‘understandings of how individuals come to abuse children’ and the ‘dynamic interplay between sociocultural context and work related experiences’. The findings of this study yielded valuable service based information and highlighted the contextual challenges faced by professionals working in this area.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Ryan, Patrick

Second supervisor

Egan, Rachel





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