One in Five

Who are the perpetrators?

Sexual abusers of children make up a heterogeneous group. They come from diverse social strata and cannot be attributed to any group of geographical origin.

Most perpetrators are male, but female sex offenders are not as rare as commonly believed.

Approximately 70% of perpetrators know their victims before abuse takes place, and fall into the first two categories listed below. Some hold prominent positions in the community and use their status to gain easy access to children and the trust of their families.

Child sex abusers can be
  • from a child's family or family circle, including a parent, a step parent, relative, or family friends
  • from a child's circle of trusted adults, including school staff, teachers, coaches, scout masters, the clergy, doctors, care givers
  • child-sex tourists travelling to destinations outside Europe, where in spite of international and national laws to the contrary, sexually exploited children are easily attainable
  • adolescents and children who sexually harm other children. Children in this category can be as young as 5-years-old. The overwhelming majority of children in this category are male, and although they tend to come from dysfunctional families, they make up a heterogeneous group. Few become adult sex offenders
  • child corrupters, or people who expose children to pornographic images or live sex performances, often to lower their inhibitions
  • users of online child pornography, whether it is downloaded or not
  • child traffickers who recruit children for child prostitution
  • clients of prostitution who knowingly use the sexual services of a child