In this essay, two theories specifically focusing on sexual offending against children are compared and critical evaluated. Finkelhor’s (1984) Precondition model integrates four underlying factors that might explain the occurrence of child sexual abuse and categorizes them into four preconditions: motivation to offend, overcoming internal inhibitors, overcoming external inhibitors and overcoming child’s resistance that occur in a temporal sequence where each is necessary for the other to develop. The Precondition model provides a framework for assessment of child molesters but is criticized for a lack of aetiological explanations and for paying to little attention to cognitive factors. Ward’s (2003) Pathways model suggest that clinical phenomena evident among child sex offenders are generated by four distinct and interacting mechanisms: intimacy and social skills deficits, distorted sexual scripts, emotional dysregulation and cognitive distortions where each mechanism generates a specific offence pathway. Both theories have been influential in providing treatment goals and informing clinical assessment of child sexual abusers.
Finkelhor´s precondition model (1984) is widely recognized in the literature as a groundbreaking theory in the fact that it represents the first attempt at incorporating multi-factorial explanations to account for sexual offending against children (Howell, 1994; Marshal, 1996; Ward & Hudson, 1998). Finkelhor (1984) argues that child molestation is a complex phenomena caused by a variety of psychological, sociological and cultural factors. In order to explain differences within perpetrators as well as situational aspects of the offence, Finkelhor (1984) proposes four preconditions that need to bee met in a temporal sequence before sexual abuse can occur: (a) motivation to sexually abuse; (b) overcoming internal inhibitors; (c) overcoming external inhibitors and; (c) overcoming the resistance of the child. The first two preconditions are aetilogical theories that deal with psychological function of offenders whilst the latter two preconditions deal with situational aspects of the offence and are as such more akin to an offence process model (Ward 2002).
In the first precondition, Finkelhor (1984) suggests that motivation to abuse consists of three components: emotional congruence, sexual arousal and blockage. These factors are not in themselves preconditions but they can work together or independently as a motive to sexually abuse a child.
Emotional congruence implies that the offenders emotional and needs correspond to the characteristics of a child. That is, sex with children is emotionally satisfying for the offender. Here, Finkelhor (1984) suggests that men are socialized to behave in a dominant and powerful manner in sexual relationships, and implies that characteristics of children (small, young, week) act as a cue for the availability of them as sexual partners (Ward, Polascheck & Beech, 2006). In support of...