The motivations of female child sexual offenders: A systematic review of the literature

Kelly Brown, Juliane Kloess

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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The aim of the literature review presented here was to identify goals and offense-supportive cognitions that act as motivational factors in the sexual offending against children committed by females. A scoping search revealed that there was currently no review in this area. A systematic search of empirical research that examined motivations in female child sexual offenders (FCSOs) was initiated based upon an inclusion and exclusion criteria. Identified studies were screened and reference lists were hand searched. A quality assessment tool reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the final 13 articles. A data extraction form established for the current review enabled the extraction of standardized information. The review identified support for many motivational factors in FCSOs, which have previously been referred to in the literature. The review has categorized these into motivations and offense-supportive cognitions. There was strong support for the following motivations and goals: offending under coercion of an abusive co-offender, offending to meet one's own needs and offending to feel power and control over another. The strongest offense-supportive cognitions were entitlement and uncontrollability. There was an apparent overlap between the two categories, with some offense-supportive cognitions and functions amalgamating to facilitate females to engage in offending behavior. Limitations of the present literature and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101361
Number of pages22
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Early online date5 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2019


  • (Child) sexual offending against children
  • Female child sexual offender
  • Motivations
  • Offense-supportive cognitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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