The Iconic Child Molester: What We Believe and Why We Believe It

Tamara Rice Lave

University of Miami, School of Law

April 2008

Survey research shows that Americans have a deep fear of child molestation. They are more concerned about child molest then terrorism, and they believe that child molesters can never be rehabilitated. Yet research contradicts these beliefs. This paper seeks to understand why perception of child molesters is so far off from reality. The hypothesis is that availability of stories in the media in conjunction with people's deep seated outrage about child molestation distorts people's perceptions. This hypothesis is tested by comparing the number of stories published from 2000-2005 with the incidence of different crimes. An analysis is also done of bias in reporting of sex crimes and sex offenders.

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Date posted: April 15, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Lave, Tamara Rice, The Iconic Child Molester: What We Believe and Why We Believe It (April 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1118554 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1118554

Contact Information

Tamara Rice Lave (Contact Author)
University of Miami, School of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.miami.edu/facadmin/tlave.php

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