Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PL251-227445 September 16, 2000 10:16 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2001
A Brief Screening Scale to Identify Pedophilic
Interests Among Child Molesters
Michael C. Seto
and Martin L. Lalumi`ere
Among child molesters, phallometrically measured sexual interest in children is
associated with having male victims, multiple victims, younger victims, and ex-
trafamilial victims. These sexual offense history variables are also associated with
risk for sexual recidivism. The present study of 1,113 child molesters was con-
ducted to determine if these sexual offense history variables could be used as
items in a brief screening scale to identify pedophilic interests (SSPI: Screening
Scale for Pedophilic Interests). Using a cutoff score that classiﬁed 90% of a sample
of 206 nonchild molesters as not having pedophilic interests, SSPI scores identiﬁed
pedophilic interests among child molesters signiﬁcantly better than did chance.
In phallometric testing, individuals with the highest SSPI score were more than
5 times as likely to show pedophilic interests than individuals receiving the lowest
score. The SSPI is not intended to be a substitute for phallometric testing, but it
may be useful for triage and risk management when testing is difﬁcult to conduct,
or as a research instrument when phallometric data are unavailable.
KEY WORDS: pedophilic interests; child molesters; screening scale; sexual offense histories.
There is very good evidence that phallometric testing for sexual interest
in children, which involves the measurement of changes in penile tumescence
during presentations of sexual stimuli depicting either children or adults, has
discriminative and predictive validity. Studies consistently ﬁnd that groups of
child molesters can be distinguished from groups of nonchild molesters by their
Law and Mental Health Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Law and Mental Health Program, Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health, 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 1R8; michael
2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation