By Dennis Howitt.
ISBN 0 47195591 4 (paperback)
ISBN 0 47193939 0 (hardback)
There are important issues to be addressed in work with sexual
offenders against children, a number of which have lain somewhat
dormant during the recent period where the cognitive-behavioural
theoretical perspective has been the dominant influence in the
field. As often happens when a single model attains predominance a
number of theoretical assumptions achieve the status of ‘truths’,
and the reality is lost that no single theoretical model can
explain or predict human behaviour.
Howitt argues paedophilia is a focus for many ideological
battles and provides detailed discussion of definitions,
theoretical models regarding the aetiology of paedophilia as well
as a review of assessment and treatment issues. The material is
supported by extensive summaries of research findings which at
times make it quite a demanding read, although welcome breaks from
the level of concentration required to assimilate the theoretical
material is provided by the inclusion of detailed case examples
illustrating the inner experience of the paedophile.
A particularly interesting section includes the author’s
observations from his research on the relation of pornography to
paedophile behaviour. Similarly welcome is the inclusion of a focus
on female sexual offenders against children, a focus which has been
strikingly absent in much of the literature on this subject so far.
Hopefully this will draw practitioners’ attention to the dismantled
myth that 95 per cent of sexual offenders against children are
male, which clinical experience and recent reviews of research
demonstrate not to be so. Howitt’s consideration of the typologies
of female sexual offenders against children is important, but brief
– indicating the imbalance of research in this area. This is a
welcome addition to the literature, it is to be hoped it will have
an impact on practitioners in questioning current ‘truths’
propounded by dominant models, contributing to the development of
an integrative theoretical perspective in this very complex area of
Peter Dale is a counsellor, psychotherapist and author
of Dangerous Families and Counselling Adults
Who Were Abused As Children.