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Avoiding profiling: understanding risk factors of sexual crime

Expert organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have published lists of factors that can increase the chance that someone will engage in sexual violence. While these organizations do note that presence of the factors doesn't always equate to the commission of sex crimes, it is possible that law enforcement officials and others who are trained on these factors can jump to the wrong conclusions.

According to the CDC, factors can be community, relationship, individual and societal in nature. Community factors include lack of job opportunities, poverty, a perceived tolerance within the community toward sexual violence and a perceived lack of support from police or other systems. Societal factors might include norms within the locale that see sexual violence toward certain people as okay or the fact that crime rates in general are high.

A family or childhood history of abuse, poor parent-child relationships, absentee fathers and aggressive peers are some relationship factors the CDC identifies as being risk factors for sexual violence. Individual factors include drug or alcohol abuse, deficits in empathetic feelings, early sexual activity, feeling hostile toward the opposite sex, suicidal or homicidal thoughts or actions, exposure to porn or other explicit material and having coercive sexual fantasies.

As you can see from the above lists, which are not all inclusive, many, many people likely fall at least partly into one or more of these higher risk categories. That doesn't mean all those people are going to commit a sex crime. If you are accused of such crimes and feel that you have been profiled unfairly, that might play a role in your defense strategy. Working with a legal professional to identify the best defense strategy can help you increase the chances of avoiding conviction and clearing your name.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Sexual Violence: Risk and Protective Factors," accessed Sep. 18, 2015

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