Sex Offender Characteristics & Recidivism

We work with law enforcement nationwide. Ask any officer who works in sex crimes, especially those involving children, and they will tell you these crimes happen too often and are repeated.
— Stacie Rumenap, SCP President testimony at policy forum


  • Multiple studies have found that the average pedophile has molested over 300 children in his/her lifetime (Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, 2001). 
  • Sex offenders are at least four times more likely than other criminals to be rearrested for a sex crime (Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003).
  • Of the released sex offenders who committed another sex crime, 40 percent perpetrated the new offense within one year from their prison discharge and the majority of the children they molested after leaving prison were aged 13 or younger (Department of Justice).  
  • More than 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator (Department of Justice). 
  • Not all child sexual abusers exclusively target children - some are opportunistic offenders who seek vulnerable individuals to victimize (e.g., assault both vulnerable children and adults) (Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking). 
  • 34% of offenders are related to the child they abuse (National Sexual Violence Resource Center).
  • Studies suggest that convicted sex offenders in prison represent less than 10% of all sex offenders living in the United States (Center for Sex Offender Management).
  • Males made up 90 percent of adult child sexual assault perpetrators, while 3.9 percent of perpetrators were female, with a further 6 percent classified as ’unknown gender’ (McCloskey & Raphael, 2005). 


Offenders by Gender

McCloskey & Raphael, 2005