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Repertoires of paedophilia: Conflicting descriptions of adult-child sexual relationships in the investigative interview

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Publication details

JournalInternational Journal of Speech, Language and the Law
DatePublished - 2006
Issue number2
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)189-211
Original languageEnglish


A review of the literature revealed that adult-child sexual relationships are often described in terms of personal bonds and emotions in pro-paedophile propaganda and the accounts of convicted paedophiles. On the other hand, in the investigative interview police officers must encourage offenders to be precise in their accounts and describe sexual contact. Research has not determined whether these two conflicting approaches to the description of paedophilia are observable in police interviews and, if so, considered the implications for the criminal investigation. Eleven audiotaped police interviews with paedophiles conducted at a Child Protection Unit in 2000 were transcribed. A corpus of 20 'physical' references to sexual activity and bodily contact and 42 'emotional' words involving feelings and relationships were identified and the incidence of the terms was quantified. Content analysis confirmed that police officers and paedophiles do describe adult-child sexual relationships differently in the investigative interview. The police used the 'physical' repertoire more frequently, while the suspects exhibited a preference for the 'emotional' repertoire (x(2) =125.518; df =1; p < 0.01). The suspects also used euphemistic and colloquial language more frequently than the police (X-2= 65.964; df = 1; p < 0.01). The practical implications of the study and recommendations for future research are outlined.

    Research areas

  • Content analysis, Suspected paedophile, Repertoire, Discourse, Police, Investigative interview


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