The aim of the two studies presented here was to produce and refine a measure of victim empathy for the assessment of child molesters. In the first study, 61 nonfamilial child molesters completed the Child Molester Empathy Measure (CMEM), a questionnaire designed specifically for this study. The measure assessed empathy in three contexts: (a) toward a child who was in a motor vehicle accident and was disfigured, (b) toward a child who had been sexually molested by an unknown assailant over a period of time, and (c) toward the offender's own victim(s). Results indicated that the measure was both internally reliable and produced stable responses over time. The results also revealed a relative deficit in empathy toward the offender's own victim(s). The goal of the second study was to replicate the data obtained in the first study and compare child molesters' responses with the responses of a group of nonoffenders. Twenty-nine child molesters and 36 community males (nonoffenders) completed the questionnaire. This study also confirmed the internal reliability and test–retest reliability of the CMEM. The discriminant validity of the measure was supported by the child molesters' demonstrated relative deficiency in empathy toward an unknown offender's victim of sexual abuse. However, the child molesters displayed equal empathy toward the accident victim relative to nonoffenders. Additionally, the child molesters displayed significantly less empathy toward their own victims than toward the general sexual abuse victim. The results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications.
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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