A new study has revealed a shocking proportion of Australian men would abuse children “if no one found out”.
The research, conducted by the University of New South Wales, found “concerning” patterns, including that one in six Australian men said they had feelings for children under the age of 18, with 48 per cent of those answering being aged over 54.
One in 15 men questioned admitted they would have sexual contact with a child under the age of 14 if “no one found out”, while one in 25 said the same about children under 10.
The odds of a respondent saying they would have had sex with someone under the age of 18 was 10 times higher if they were aged over 65.
The survey, which questioned over 1900 men aged between 18 and 65 years old, is the world’s largest child sexual abuse perpetration prevention survey of its kind.
The study was welcomed by those who say that the common nature of sexual violence against women needs to be studied at the perpetrator level as well as with victims.
“The prevalence of abuse revealed in this report is deeply concerning,” Georgia Naldrett, manager of Jesuit Social Services’ Stop it Now! Australia service said.
“Our detailed and evidence-based recommendations call for investment in initiatives that address concerning behaviour before it starts, intervene earlier with boys and men who report troubling thoughts and behaviours, and reduce the reoffending risk of those who have already sexually abused children. Investment in these areas can help keep children safe from harm.”
The report found that 3 per cent of respondents had had sexual contact with a child. Researchers stated that over 95 per cent of those who answered “yes” to the question “have you had sex with someone under the age of 18 while over the age of 18?” were older than 24. The age of consent in Australia is 16.
Those who said they had sexual inclinations towards children and teenagers were more likely to be married, be higher income earners, with good social support as well and were more likely to be working with children.
One in 10 admitted to sexually abusing a child under the age of 18, including through accessing online pornography with underage children.
Online behaviours were also identified, with those most attracted to children and teenagers twice as likely to own cryptocurrency, spend time online, and be interested in watching violent porn and bestiality.
However, research also indicated that they were more likely to be victims of sexual abuse themselves or have had traumatic childhood experiences.
Those who wanted help admitted to committing sexual abuse while those who did not want help appeared to be less likely to act upon their inclinations.