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28 Behav. Sci. & L. 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/bsclw28 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Behavioral Sciences and the Law
Behav. Sci. Law 28: 1 23 (2010)
Published online in Wiley InterScience
(www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/bsl.919

Searching for the Developmental Origins

of Sexual Violence: Examining the

Co-Occurrence of Physical Aggression

and Sexual Behaviors in Early Childhood

Patrick Lussier, Ph.D.*'t and Jay Healey, Ph.D. studentt

While developmental perspectives on sexual violence have gained much interest in
recent years, few empirical studies have been conducted to better understand its
origins. This study attempts to fill this gap by examining the onset of physical aggression
and normative sexual behaviors in preschoolers. This study is based on a sample of at-
risk children (n = 100) recruited as part of the KD-BEAR project, an on-going longi-
tudinal study conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Semi-structured
interviews were completed with the primary caregiver and the child. The structural
model examined showed a significant and important latent correlation between
physical aggression and sexual behaviors across models tested, after controlling for
child and familial characteristics. Furthermore, findings showed that male preschoo-
lers coming from low income families having been referred for assessment and/or
treatment for an externalizing spectrum disorder showed higher levels of both aggres-
sion and sexual behaviors. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of
developmental models of sexual violence, and the secondary prevention of sexual
violence at its earliest stages. Copyright 0 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


In spite of significant developments over recent years, the prevention of sexual violence
is still in its infancy. For the most part, sexual violence prevention has been left to
various criminal justice system interventions with the goal of decreasing the risk of
sexual recidivism in convicted sex offenders. More specifically, recent criminal justice
initiatives have been focusing on individual-level interventions to tackle the problem of
sexual violence. These interventions have been largely reactive and have provided little
guidance with respect to the primary and secondary prevention of sexual violence. In
the United States these interventions include, but are not limited to, civil commitment,
home residency restrictions, public notification, and sex offender registries. These
measures were first introduced to deal with adult sex offenders and later extended to
juvenile sex offenders in spite of the lack of empirical evidence showing any significant

*Correspondence to: Patrick Lussier, Ph.D., School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University Centre for
Research on Sexual Violence, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia Canada, V5A 1S6.
E-mail: plussierasfu.ca
tSchool of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.
The Vancouver Longitudinal Study (KD-BEAR project) was funded by the British Columbia Ministry of
Health and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Copyright 0 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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