Motivations and mechanisms of child sexual abuse: the narratives of adult male offenders in Nigerian prisons
Undoubtedly, there has been an increase in public awareness and concern about child sexual abuse in Nigeria in recent years. However, in spite of the fact that researchers have made substantial contributions to a previously scanty body of literature on child sexual abuse, minimal attention has been given to juvenile sex offenders. Therefore, this present study explored and described the motivations and mechanisms adopted by child sexual offenders in perpetrating sexual abuse on the underage. Drawing on Finkelhor’s Precondition Model of Child Sexual Abuse, their psychosocial and psychosexual histories, motives for sexually abusing young children, mode of operation and events leading to sexual abuse of the children were investigated. Qualitative analysis of official demographic and offence history data, and in-depth interviews of 29 purposively selected offenders in Ikoyi, Kirikiri Medium and Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos reveal that most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are related to or known to the victim. After winning the confidence of victims’ parents and organising ‘time alone’ with the children, offenders deploy various gradual desensitisation strategies to get their victims to take part in the sexual activity. There is need for public awareness and understanding of the common tactics that are employed by offenders to seek opportunities for time alone with their victims while children can equally be made to be aware of pre-offence behaviours of potential offenders and be taught self-protective strategies to keep them safe.
Keywords: Child Sexual Abuse, Juvenile Sex Offenders, Motivations, Precondition Model