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The abused-abuser hypothesis

Many professionals and most of the public believe that childhood sexual abuse causes sexual attraction to children or adolescence in adulthood. In fact, few studies have actually investigated this abused-abuser hypothesis, and those that have suffer from significant flaws. The most common shortcoming is reliance on samples of child molesters, who are not representative of pedophiles or ephebophiles in general. Even among child molesters, only a minority were abused as children.

After reviewing the research, psychologists Randall J. Garland and Michael J. Dougher of the University of New Mexico concluded that the abused-abuser hypothesis is simplistic and misleading. They write that its uncritical acceptance may lead to premature and incorrect conclusions and ineffective policies.5

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5. Garland & Dougher, 1990.