In the weeks leading up to Halloween, it has become tradition for the media to run article after article warning parents that sex offenders may use the holiday as a means of sexually exploiting children. This has created such a panic that lawmakers across the country have even begun to pass laws restricting the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween, or that require police officers to check up on them during Trick or Treat hours. Are such laws truly necessary, though? Is there really an increased risk of sex crimes on Halloween in the first place? Let's take a look at the data.Read More
People have a tendency to think of child sex offending as being largely, if not exclusively, attributable to male perpetrators. This likely stems, at least in part, from the way such offenders are typically portrayed in the popular media. For instance, can you think of any episodes of To Catch a Predator or similar programs that showed even one female predator? It’s not just that female sex offending of this nature is rarely portrayed, though; it also appears to be taken less seriously than male sex offending in many cases. For example, it is not uncommon for people to refer to adolescent boys as “lucky” when an adult female (especially an attractive one) is caught having sex with them. In contrast, I have yet to hear of any cases in which an adolescent female is referred to as “lucky” when an older man is caught having sex with her.
Our tendency to view child sex offenses as a male-only problem has an unfortunate consequence in that it may allow a large number of female offenders to avoid being detected. Perhaps this is why women represent just 1% of sex offenders in the United States prison system . Thus, it may not be that women rarely commit such crimes—instead, it may be that women are not being caught or they are being punished less harshly. So just how common is it for women to commit sex crimes against children and adolescents? And in what ways do female and male sex offenders differ? A recent study published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse sought to address these questions with the goal of providing a more complete picture of the people who commit sexual offenses against minors .Read More
Every year around Halloween, the media starts running story after story warning parents to watch out for sex offenders who plan to exploit the holiday as a means of preying upon children. Concerns about this have even prompted lawmakers in many parts of the country to pass laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween, or that require police to check up on them during Trick or Treat hours. All of this media panic and legislation has prompted some researchers to wonder whether there really is reason to be extra worried at this time of year.Read More
Compared to the United States, European nations tend to have more relaxed attitudes toward public nudity. Certainly, there’s a lot of variability across individual countries in terms of the type and amount of nudity that is acceptable, but it is pretty clear that Europeans generally don’t have as many hangups about seeing the human body a naturel. For example, just consider that sunbathing in the nude is permitted in many public parks and beaches across Europe (something that is very rare to find in the U.S.). I don't think anyone is particularly surprised to hear this; however, if you're anything like me, you were probably shocked to see all of the recent news reports claiming that Sweden has taken things to a whole other level by declaring that public masturbation is also acceptable. But is this really true?Read More
In the not too distant past, scientists could get away with almost anything because ethics boards did not yet exist and it was up to the researchers themselves to determine what types of risks were acceptable. This resulted in the publication of a number of studies that we look back on today as being ethically dubious.
For example, a 1938 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology involved two psychologists surreptitiously hiding under college students’ dorm room beds in order to eavesdrop on their conversations . I’m quite sure that if a similar study were attempted today, the researchers would be thrown in jail. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of questionable research ethics. In this article, I’m going to share one of the most fascinating and ethically ambiguous studies ever conducted in the history of sex research.Read More