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Victims' Routine Activities and Sex Offenders' Target Selection Scripts: A Latent Class Analysis


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This study investigates target selection scripts of 72 serial sex offenders who have committed a total of 361 sex crimes on stranger victims. Using latent class analysis, three target selection scripts were identified based on the victim's activities prior to the crime, each presenting two different tracks: (1) the Home script, which includes the (a) intrusion track and the (b) invited track, (2) the Outdoor script, which includes the (a) noncoercive track and the (b) coercive track, and (3) the Social script, which includes the (a) onsite track and the (b) off-site track. The scripts identified appeared to be used by both sexual aggressors of children and sexual aggressors of adults. In addition, a high proportion of crime switching was found among the identified scripts, with half of the 72 offenders switching scripts at least once. The theoretical relevance of these target selection scripts and their practical implications for situational crime prevention strategies are discussed.
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of Research and
Sexual Abuse: A Journal
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1079063210375975
2010 22: 315Sex Abuse
Nadine Deslauriers-Varin and Eric Beauregard
Latent Class Analysis
Victims' Routine Activities and Sex Offenders' Target Selection Scripts: A
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Sexual Abuse: A Journal of
Research and Treatment
22(3) 315 –342
© The Author(s) 2010
Reprints and permission: http://www.
DOI: 10.1177/1079063210375975
Victims’ Routine Activities
and Sex Offenders’ Target
Selection Scripts: A Latent
Class Analysis
Nadine Deslauriers-Varin1 and Eric Beauregard1
This study investigates target selection scripts of 72 serial sex offenders who have
committed a total of 361 sex crimes on stranger victims. Using latent class analysis,
three target selection scripts were identified based on the victim’s activities prior
to the crime, each presenting two different tracks: (1) the Home script, which
includes the (a) intrusion track and the (b) invited track, (2) the Outdoor script, which
includes the (a) noncoercive track and the (b) coercive track, and (3) the Social script,
which includes the (a) onsite track and the (b) off-site track. The scripts identified
appeared to be used by both sexual aggressors of children and sexual aggressors
of adults. In addition, a high proportion of crime switching was found among the
identified scripts, with half of the 72 offenders switching scripts at least once. The
theoretical relevance of these target selection scripts and their practical implications
for situational crime prevention strategies are discussed.
script, rational choice, routine activities, target selection, sex offenders, situational
crime prevention
Approximately 20 years ago, a combination of factors, namely, the pressure from
victim rights movement, the perceived inability to control sexual violence, and doubts
regarding the impact of treatment programs for sex offenders, led to the emergence of
the community protection model (Lieb, Quinsey, & Berliner, 1998; Petrunik, 2003).
1Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Nadine Deslauriers-Varin, School of Criminology, Centre for Research on Sexual Violence, Simon Fraser
University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada
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316 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
In an effort to prevent future sex crimes, both Canada and the United States have
implemented reformed policies that increase the level of community supervision for
offenders at high risk of recidivism. These policies include intensive supervision pro-
grams, 810 peace bonds, residence restrictions legislation, and the publicly accessible
sex offender registry (Janus, 2003). Given the particularly heinous nature of sexual
crimes, understanding where, when, how, against whom, and by whom these criminal
activities are commited has become a central mission for both the criminal justice
system and scholars (Lussier, Deslauriers-Varin, & Râtel, 2010; Tewksbury, Mus-
taine, & Stengel, 2008).
However, most criminological theories proposed over the years are theories of
criminality rather than of crime and seek to understand and investigate the develop-
mental and/or biological factors responsible for turning individuals into offenders. In
the sexual offending empirical literature more specifically, the focus has largely been
on the personal dimensions of the behavior (Smallbone, Marshall, & Wortley, 2008;
Wortley & Smallbone, 2006). For example, most typologies of sex offenders proposed
over the years (for a review, see Robertiello & Terry, 2007) are largely based on
descriptive studies and focus on the offender’s characteristics (such as personality,
emotional state, social competencies, etc.), portraying the offender as internally
driven, and usually classifying sex offenders based on the victim’s age. Moreover,
most of these typologies assume that an offender’s offending process is stable, which
clearly disregards the importance of situational factors on criminal behavior (Beaure-
gard, Proulx, Rossmo, Leclerc, & Allaire, 2007; Wortley & Smallbone, 2006) as well
as the target and crime “switching” patterns of sex offenders (Lussier, Leclerc, Healey, &
Proulx, 2007).
In contrast, the situational crime prevention approach focuses much less on the
offender himself but rather on the criminal event. By making the crime the unit of
analysis, the focus is shifted from the offenders and their deficits to the environment
that structures, facilitates, and allows the crime to occur (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006).
Criminal behaviors are seen as a product of the interaction between the offender’s
characteristics, the victim, and the context in which the crime is committed. These
choice-structuring aspects were often omitted in previous studies examining sexual
offenses. Situational crime prevention also adopts a problem-solving approach that
“targets specific form of crime in specific contexts” (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006,
p. 8), focusing on potential interventions that are tailor-made for the particular prob-
lem or crime under investigation. The focus is thus on modifying environmental fac-
tors that create opportunities for the commission of a particular crime. Situational
prevention is concerned with creating safe environments rather than safe individuals.
As shown in previous studies (Beauregard et al., 2007; Cornish, 1994a; Cornish &
Clarke, 1987), this shift in the unit of analysis is essential when it comes to under-
standing the offender’s somewhat rational decision-making process in committing a
crime; the factors taken into consideration vary greatly among different types of crime
and at different stages in the decision-making process. To assist and facilitate the
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 317
investigation and modeling of the crime-commission process, the concept of crime
scripts was proposed (Cornish, 1994a).
Crime as Script
Borrowed from the field of cognitive science, a script refers to a knowledge structure,
or schema, that “organizes our knowledge of people and events in ways which guide
our understanding of other’s people behaviors” (Cornish, 1994b, p. 32). Scripts are
acquired through social learning and involve modeling and reinforcement.
When the behavior associated with a script has been used repeatedly and suc-
cessfully in the past, it will be activated more readily. If strong enough, an
activated script will be followed by the scripted action, unless there are strong
inhibitory factors present. (Tedeschi & Felson, 1994, p. 181)
Scripts inform us about the procedural aspects and requirements of crime-commission
sequences while identifying the decision processes and actions of offenders as well as
the situational variables that play a role at each step of the specific crime committed.
It is believed that the immediate environment provides “the potential offender with
relevant information about the likely rewards and success associated with a contem-
plated crime” (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006, p. 9). Hence, the notion of script assumes
that offenders, being rational decision makers, will structure and adapt their way of
committing a crime, or script, based on choice-structuring factors, such as their cur-
rent knowledge and experiences as well as information available to them (such as
time constraints, ability, immediate environment, type of victim/target, location, pay-
offs, etc.), always seeking the greatest benefits possible using the least efforts (Clarke
& Cornish, 1985; Cornish & Clarke, 1986). As such, implicit theories—tradition-
ally termed cognitive distortions—focus on the personal internally driven psycho-
logical processes (cognitive and affective) of the offender leading to the commission
of a sexual assault, overlooking the decision-making during the offense in interaction
with the immediate situations encountered at the offense scene (Wortley & Smallbone,
2006). In other words, sex offenders make decisions and choose how to proceed with
a particular victim not only according to personal factors (e.g., implicit theories) but
also according to the external environment (i.e., situational components of the crime
such as victim’s behavior). Moreover, because of his implicit theories, the offender
may “misinterpret” the situational factors that are likely to affect the decision-making
of offenders and ultimately, the unfolding of the sexual offense.
These flexible scripts can thus be seen as event sequences extended over time,
where the early events in the sequence lead to or enable the occurrence of later events.
During a particular course of action, for example, the offender may encounter the
opportunity to perform another type of crime, and this crime will then be incorpo-
rated into a new script as an optional path (Cornish, 1994a). The concept of script,
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318 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
therefore, entails the notions of rationality, adaptability, and innovation. In response
to a range of sometimes unwanted but foreseeable contingencies and obstacles,
scripts will evolve and alternatives scenes and actions within the general script may
be developed or discovered by the offender (Cornish, 1994a). Consequently, related
tracks are usually included within general scripts. Tracks refer to a variant of a more
generic script and allow the offender to deal with differences in procedures under
specific circumstances (e.g., witnesses or use of violence to control the victim;
Cornish, 1994a). Scripts, and their related tracks, should thus be viewed as the routi-
nization of the complete sequence of the criminal decision-making process (for a
specific type of crime). As such, the identification of common patterns in sexual
offending results in excellent targets for the development of prevention efforts
(Kaufman, Mosher, Carter, & Estes, 2006). As discussed by Cornish (1999),
thinking of decision-making sequences as routinized procedures also gives a
more realistic view of what it is to act rationally, by suggesting that rational
choice may be evidenced as much by the utilization of successful instrumental
routines developed by others as by innovative decision-making on the job.
(p. 169)
The notion of crime scripts thus helps in the understanding of behavioral routines
(i.e., criminal events) and their identifiable stages and decision-making processes;
crime scripts also aid in investigations of the complete crime-commission sequence
(Cornish, 1994a, 1999; Cornish & Clarke, 1987). However, previous studies
applying crime scripts have mainly investigated and illustrated the crime-commission
sequence of property crimes, such as robbery, burglary, check forgery, auto theft,
resale of stolen vehicles, subway mugging, joy-riding, and tag-writing (see Cornish,
1994a, 1999; Lacoste & Tremblay, 2003; Tremblay, Talon, & Hurley, 2001). Crime
scripts have been used much less often in the context of violent or predatory crimes,
as these crimes have been seen as more “irrational.” More important, in looking at
previous studies, the problem is that by focusing on the whole crime-commission
process, most of the scripts proposed do not address the complexity of each stage of
a particular crime. By leaving out important decisions and actions that occur during
the commission of a crime, these scripts lack the necessary details to adequately
describe offenders’ patterns (Kaufman et al., 2006). By examining the whole crime-
commission process, rather than by examining each specific stage, the role of
situational factors that may be shaping the criminal act and its sequence is
diminished. Given the multistage decisions and actions involved in the crime-
commission process of sexual crimes, scripts should first be developed by an
extensive description of each specific phase in the process. As such, the target
selection process will serve here as a framework for the identification of key
variables in the development of a more general sex offence script for serial sex
offenders of stranger victims.
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 319
Victims’ Routine Activities and Target Selection Process
As suggested by Clarke (1995), individuals’ lifestyles, as well as their routine activi-
ties, represent areas that may also be relevant for situational crime prevention. Crime,
as explained by the routine activities theory, results from the convergence in time and
space of three essential elements: (a) a motivated offender, (b) a suitable target, and
(c) the absence of a capable guardian (Cohen & Felson, 1979). If social context limits
the presence of capable guardians while increasing the number of suitable targets, then
the likelihood of a crime occurrence increases, even if the offender’s motivation
remains stable (Pino, 2005). Looking more specifically at the notion of suitable tar-
gets, the routine activities approach also assumes that criminal victimization is not
randomly distributed in society and that actual crime-commission is a function of the
convergence of lifestyles and criminal opportunity. Hence, daily activities and life-
styles nurture a criminal opportunity structure by enhancing the exposure and
proximity of crime targets to motivated offenders (Felson & Cohen, 1980; Miethe &
Meier, 1990; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 2002). When looking at victimization, studies
have shown that it is the activities and lifestyles of individuals that carry them through
contexts and interactions that will, in return, modify their likelihood of being victim-
ized (Miethe & Meier, 1990; Mustaine & Tewksbury, 2002; Tewksbury & Mustaine,
2003). This is not to suggest that victims are responsible for their own victimization.
Instead, lifestyle behaviors and characteristics, over and above proxies of lifestyle such
as demographics and victim characteristics, are determinant in crime-commission and
target selection (Tewksbury & Mustaine, 2003). As proposed by Kaufman et al.
(2006), “opportunities are most directly influenced by the victim’s situation (e.g.,
walking alone), target location (e.g., parks), and the involvement of facilitators”
(p. 112). For example, studies have consistently shown that engaging in social activities
away from home or spending a good proportion of time in places where strangers
aggregate is associated with an increased risk of criminal victimization (Mustaine &
Tewksbury, 2002; Tewksbury & Mustaine, 2003). Offenders are likely to decide on a
suitable area in which to offend, based on the likelihood of finding suitable targets, the
latter being a function of the number of potential targets in one location (Bernasco &
Nieuwbeerta, 2005). However, because offenders exercise some degree of rational
choice, the offender’s selection of a particular target over another, within a sociospa-
tial context, will be determined by the subjective value of the target. Here again, when
considering the subjective value of targets, most empirical research examining target
selection processes have been carried out on burglars. While burglars and sex offend-
ers have different types of targets (i.e., static vs. mobile), their target selection
processes nonetheless share several similarities (Warr, 1988). Both offenders decide
to select one target over another based on intelligence gathered from receiving tips or
making observations of specific targets (Nee & Meenaghan, 2006), and/or based on a
combination of different environmental cues that constitute “specialist knowledge” in
target selection (Coupe & Blake, 2006; Logie, Wright, & Decker, 1992; Nee &
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320 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
Meenaghan, 2006; Wright, Logie, & Decker, 1995). Empirical studies have shown
that the suitability of a particular target can be explained by numerous factors such as
the anticipated success rate, potential “payoff” or high gain (Clarke & Cornish, 1985),
ease of entry or physical accessibility (Bernasco & Nieuwbeerta, 2005; Cromwell &
Olson, 2004), and level of guardianship (Miethe & Meier, 1990; Tewksbury &
Mustaine, 2003). As such it is possible for the offender to find a suitable target that is
too well guarded to merit an attempt. Previous studies have also demonstrated that
offenders are likely to adapt the way they commit their crime based on the evolving
environment in which their victim is located (Brantingham & Brantingham, 1993;
Felson, 2002). More specifically, previous studies have shown that the target selection
processes of sex offenders depend heavily on the social, physical, and geographic
environment as well as the victim’s behaviors and location prior to the crime (Beaure-
gard et al., 2007; Beauregard, Rossmo, & Proulx, 2007; Canter & Larkin, 1993;
Rossmo, 1997). Consistent with the criminal career literature, persistent sex offenders
are thus characterized by crime switching, especially in terms of their victim selection
(Heil, Ahlmeyer, & Simons, 2003; Lussier et al., 2007; Lussier, Proulx, & Leblanc
2005; Smallbone & Wortley 2004; Weinrott & Saylor, 1991).
Aim of the Study
With recent changes in the legal and judicial system aimed at increasing public safety
by assisting the criminal justice system in supervising and managing the risk of sex
offenders, an emerging need points to examinations of crime specificities, situational
factors, and offender’s decision-making, rather than offender characteristics. As scripts
offer a way to match situational interventions to stages of the decision-making pro-
cess, a situational perspective on a particular crime problem is more likely to provide
a detailed understanding of opportunities for victimization. This understanding can
lead to the development of effective countermeasures (Cornish, 1999). In the sexual
offending empirical literature, however, the focus has largely been on personal dimen-
sions of the behavior (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006). Current typologies of sex
offenders have failed to look specifically at the target selection process and have
neglected the geographic behavioral aspect of sexual offenses (Beauregard, Proulx,
et al., 2007; Beauregard, Rossmo, et al., 2007). Moreover, behavioral (i.e., criminal
method), victim’s routine activity (i.e., activities and location prior to the crime), and
situational variables associated with the crime have rarely been examined simultane-
ously. Finally, prior offender typologies identified are often not mutually exclusive
because of the statistical methods employed in the analyses (Vaughn, DeLisi, Beaver, &
Howard, 2008).
In an attempt to overcome these shortcomings, the current study uses latent class
analysis (LCA), a relatively new statistical technique in the social sciences, to investi-
gate mutually independent subtypes of target selection scripts in a sample of serial sex
offenders. In other words, we are interested in determining whether there is a latent
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 321
structure that adequately represents the heterogeneity of target selection among serial
sex offenders. Using variables compatible with the concept of target selection—that
is, behavioral, victims’ routine activities, and geographic variables—we believe that
mutually exclusive target selection scripts and related tracks can be identified. More-
over, congruent with the notion of script, target and crime switching are investigated
to test for sex offenders’ adaptability to different contexts. Finally, situational crime
prevention strategies are suggested and are mapped onto the identified scripts in an
effort to address deterrence of sex offenders.
The initial sample frame for the study consisted of all male sex offenders convicted of
a sentence of 2 years or more between 1995 and 2004 in the province of Quebec,
Canada. This list of more than 1,000 offenders was examined to identify all serial sex
offenders of stranger victims. In all, 92 individuals matched the criteria, and 72 of
these agreed to participate in the study. Together, these men were responsible for a
total of 361 sexual assaults (ranging from 2 to 37 sexual assaults each) for which they
were charged and convicted. Among the 20 excluded participants, 9 refused to partici-
pate; the remaining 11 were unavailable because of their mental state, disciplinary
problems, or transfer to another institution. The participants were all incarcerated in a
Correctional Service of Canada penitentiary (an institution that houses inmates serv-
ing a sentence of 2 years or more) located in the province of Quebec. The sample
included individuals who had committed two or more sexual assaults or other sex-
related crimes (e.g., sexual homicide) involving a victim of any age and any gender
with whom he had no personal relationship prior to the day the offense was commit-
ted. Serial sex offenders were specifically targeted for the sample as they are more
likely to face a variety of situations and, accordingly, are more likely to make a variety
of choices during the decision-making process of each crime committed (Beauregard,
Proulx, et al., 2007; Beauregard, Rossmo, et al., 2007).
Offenders included in this study had sexually assaulted adult women (n = 33), chil-
dren (n = 17), or both (n = 22), and 80% (n = 291) of the victims were female. The
majority of the offenders were White (91.3%; n = 63), and the average age at the
beginning of the crime series was 30.7 years (SD = 9.4). Almost half (46.4%; n = 32)
of the offenders were married or in a relationship at the beginning of their series of
crimes. Among the participants, 39.6% (n = 28) were unemployed, and 89.9% (n = 62)
had a prior criminal record before the onset of their series of sexual crimes. Partici-
pants with a prior criminal record had an average of 2.9 charges (SD = 6.3) for violent
sexual crimes, 1.0 charge (SD = 3.1) for nonviolent sexual crimes, 2.5 charges (SD = 4.4)
for violent nonsexual crimes, and 11.9 charges (SD = 19.6) for nonsexual nonviolent
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322 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
An instrument was developed to collect information from police investigation reports
and to guide in-depth, semistructured interviews with offenders. The instrument was
developed by the second author using preexisting questionnaires (Violent Crime
Linkage System [ViCLAS], Violent Criminal Apprehension Program [VICAP], Com-
puterized Questionnaire on Sexual Aggressors (St-Yves, Proulx, & McKibben, 1994).
Moreover, the instrument used Rossmo’s (1995) coding scheme for his doctoral dis-
sertation as well as the published literature on environmental criminology. This
instrument includes five sections that allow for the collection of information on pre-
crime factors, target selection processes, modus operandi, postcrime factors, and
geographic behavior. Data, especially on the behavioral and geographic components
of the target selection process, were collected from the police reports and coded in the
instrument. The reliability of responses in our study was monitored by checking for
and questioning inconsistencies. In the case of any discrepancies between the offend-
er’s account and the police report, the information from the police report was used.1
Interviews were conducted by the second author in a private office, isolated from
correctional staff and other inmates. They lasted from 2 to 12 hours, depending on
the number of crimes committed and the participants’ verbosity. Owing to the sensi-
tive nature of the conversations, permission was not requested to tape-record the
interviews, although extensive verbatim notes were taken whenever possible. No par-
ticipant was paid for participating in the study. All participants signed a consent form
after being explained the purpose of the study.2
Statistical Analyses
LCA was performed using PROC LCA, an add-on for SAS 9.1 for Windows (Lanza,
Collins, Lemmon, & Schafer, 2007). Although the application of LCA has been pri-
marily restricted to medical, educational, psychological, and sociological domains,
LCA has been increasingly used in behavioral research, particularly in criminology,
over the past few years (see Dayton, 2008; Lanza et al., 2007; McGloin, Sullivan, &
Piquero, 2008). The technique assumes that discrete latent variables3 underlie a spe-
cific population and helps to identify underlying patterns in data or subgroups of
individuals who share important characteristics or behaviors (Lanza et al., 2007).
Latent classes can thus be seen as “a classification system for groups of individuals
when we are classifying individuals according to some construct that is not directly
measurable” (Lanza, Flaherty, & Collins, 2003, p. 665). More specifically, LCA pre-
dicts subjects’ subgroup membership based on their responses to a set of observed
categorical variables and produces mutually exclusive and exhaustive (nonoverlap-
ping) latent classes of individuals (Dayton, 2008; Goodman, 1974; Lanza et al., 2007).
LCA is particularly valuable when the theoretical construct of interest is made up of
qualitatively different groups of individuals, but the group membership of individuals
is unknown and must therefore be inferred from the data (Lanza et al., 2003). LCA is
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 323
based on two critical assumptions. First, it assumes that all individuals in a latent class
have the same conditional response probabilities for the items. Second, as mentioned
previously, there is an assumption of conditional independence of the latent classes
identified (Lanza et al., 2003). Following the LCA, additional chi-square analyses
were carried out between the scripts and some modus operandi variables to test the
external validity of the LCA solution.
Table 1 presents frequency data for the variables included in the study. In total, 12
dichotomous variables were included in the analyses, divided into three main catego-
ries: (a) behavioral, (b) victim’s routine activities, and (c) geographic variables.
Behavioral variables. The study included five dichotomous variables related to the
offender’s behaviors and target selection process: Type of victim selection (1 = random/
nonpatterned; 2 = nonrandom/patterned);4 Offender looks in specific places to find
Table 1. Frequencies of Behavioral, Victims’ Routine Activities, and Geographic Variables
Variables Categories Frequencies, % (n)
Type of victim selection Random/nonpatterned
49.9 (180)
50.1 (181)
Offender looks in specific
28.8 (104)
71.2 (257)
Method to approach victim Noncoercive
75.3 (272)
24.7 (89)
Method to bring victim to
crime site
51.5 (186)
48.5 (175)
Broke into house No
88.1 (318)
11.9 (43)
Victims’ routine activities
Victim at home No
77.8 (281)
22.2 (80)
Victim outdoor No
45.4 (164)
54.6 (197)
Victim doing social activities No
66.2 (239)
33.8 (122)
Victim alone No
42.4 (153)
57.6 (208)
Encounter site Inside
54.0 (195)
46.0 (166)
Attack site Inside
65.1 (235)
34.9 (126)
Target’s mobility All at the same location
Multiple locations (two or more)
43.5 (157)
56.5 (204)
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324 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
victim (1 = no; 2 = yes); Method to approach victim (1 = noncoercive; 2 = coercive);
Method to bring victim to the crime site (1 = noncoercive; 2 = coercive);5 and Offender
broke into victim’s house (1 = no; 2 = yes).
Victim’s routine activity variables. The study included four dichotomous variables (1 =
no; 2 = yes) related to the victim’s routine activities prior to crime: Victim at home,
Victim outdoors (e.g., jogging, hitchhiking, prostitution), Victim involved in recre-
ational/social activities (e.g., visiting friends, social event, night club), and Victim alone.
Geographic variables. The study also included three dichotomous variables related to
the geographic aspect of the crime and target selection process: Encounter site, which
refers to the location where the offender first comes into contact with the victim (1 =
inside; 2 = outside); Attack site, which refers to the location where the offender first
attacks the victim (1 = inside; 2 = outside); and Target’s mobility, which designates if
the actions (i.e., encounter, attack, and crime) occurred all at the same location or in
different places (1 = all at same location; 2 = multiple locations).
Identification of Latent Subgroups
A six-class solution provided the best overall fit to the data (see Table 2). The Bayesian
information criterion (BIC; Schwarz, 1978) and Akaike’s information criterion (AIC;
Akaike, 1974) are penalized log-likelihood model information criteria that can be used
to compare competing model fit to the same data (i.e., models with different numbers
of latent classes). A smaller BIC and AIC for a particular model suggest that the trade
off between fit and parsimony was achieved. As shown by the decreasing BIC and AIC,
up to six classes, the addition of classes provides no improvement in model fit. An
inspection of the parameter estimates from the six-class model also suggests that the
target selection scripts are distinguishable and nontrivial (i.e., no class with a near-zero
probability of membership), and that meaningful labels can be assigned to each class
Table 2. Comparison of Baseline Models
No. of
Classes Likelihood Ratio, G2Degrees of Freedom AIC BIC
2 1580.9 4070 1630.9 1728.1
3 1193.0 4057 1269.0 1416.8
4 994.3 4044 1096.3 1294.6
5 905.0 4031 1033.0 1281.9
6 813.0 4018 967.0 1266.4
7 811.2 4005 991.2 1341.2
8 696.5 39992 902.5 1303.0
Note: Boldface type indicates the selected model. AIC = Akaike information criterion (Akaike, 1974);
BIC = Bayesian information criterion (Schwarz, 1978).
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 325
Table 3. Item-Response for Six-Class Model Based on Probability of Endorsing Item Given
Latent Class
Home Script Outdoors Script Social Script
Intrusion Invited Noncoercive Coercive Onsite Offsite
Type of victim
.69 .72 .47 .64 .34 .02
Offender looks
specific places
.82 .43 .66 .71 .68 1.00
Method to
approach victim
.57 .00 .00 .66 .01 .00
Method to bring
victim to crime
site (coercive)
.92 .00 .00 1.00 .20 .83
Broke into house .68 .00 .00 .01 .00 .00
Victim at home .93 .75 .00 .04 .00 .00
Victim outdoors .00 .00 .99 .93 .10 1.00
Victim doing social
.00 .00 .40 .05 .72 1.00
Victim alone .83 .24 .47 .95 .16 .74
Encounter site
.05 .20 .78 .77 .00 1.00
Attack site
.00 .12 .26 .90 .00 1.00
Target’s mobility
.09 .48 .85 .91 .14 1.00
found. The estimation was repeated using a different seed to test different sets of
starting values, as recommended by Lanza et al., (2007). The six-class model was iden-
tified as the dominant solution that was obtained most frequently among the various
sets of starting values.
The likelihood ratio G2 statistic was used to compare which six-model solution was
the most stable among the different starting values used. The final six-class model
selected presented high classification accuracy (entropy) based on posterior probabili-
ties,6 confirming its stability and relevance.7
Group labels were assigned based on the victim’s routine activities prior to the
crime, which was where the most distinctive differences among scripts of target
selection were found. Looking at the six target selection patterns, it was possible to
group them into three main target selection scripts, each presenting two tracks. Table 3
shows, for each script, the assigned label and probability of membership as well as
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326 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
the item-response probabilities for endorsing each item. The item-response probabilities
vary from 0 to 1.00; an item-response probability closer to 1.00 indicates the presence
of the item for the class. Item-response probabilities falling between .45 and .65 were
interpreted as a somewhat arbitrary presence of the item.
The first main target selection script, the Home script, presents two tracks: the
intrusion and the invited tracks. Both tracks are used with victims that were at home
prior to the crime and represent 17% and 7% of the 361 offenses committed. Offend-
ers using the intrusion target selection track look at specific places to find and select
their target (.82) and most likely break into the victim’s home (.68) while she is alone
(.83). They do not necessarily use coercion to approach the victim (.57) but almost
always use it to bring the victim to the crime site (.92), which is most likely inside the
victim’s residence (.93). Once approached by the offender, the victim is not taken to
another location, meaning that the crime event will be committed all in one location
(.09). Compared with the intrusion track, the invited track implies that offenders have
easy access to the victim’s home and do not need to commit a break and enter to
approach their victims (.00). Neither do they have to use violence to approach (.00) or
bring their victim to the crime site (.00). Most of the time, offenders meet (.20) and
attack their victim indoors (.12), usually in the victim’s home (.75) and almost half of
the time change locations throughout the commission of the crime (.48).
The Outdoors script shows two tracks, the noncoercive and the coercive, and is
used with victims who were outdoors prior to the crime (e.g., jogging, commuting,
prostituting, at a park, etc.). Each of these two tracks represents about 25% of the
offenses included in our sample and discriminates between offenders who use coer-
cion to approach and bring the victim to the crime site and those who do not. The
offenders using the noncoercive track, half the time select their victims in a nonran-
dom patterned way (.47), most often looking in specific places to find their target
(.66). They never use violence or coercion to either approach (.00) or bring their vic-
tim to the crime site (.00). The encounter site is most likely outside (.78) whereas the
attack site is often inside (.26). Offenders using the coercive track also tend to nonran-
domly select their victims (.64) and look in specific places to find their target (.71).
However, they most often use coercion to approach their victim (.66) while always
using coercion to bring their victim to the crime site (1.00). Also, while the offender
using the coercive track approaches (.77) and attacks the victim outside (.90), the vic-
tim is usually moved to a different location for the crime (.91).
The last target selection script identified, the Social script, again presents two dif-
ferent tracks: the onsite track and the off-site track, respectively representing about
20% and 8% of the offenses. This script is used with victims who are involved in
social or recreational activities prior to the crime (e.g., at a bar, concert, pool, shopping
mall, etc.). Although offenders using both tracks tend to randomly select their victim,
they nonetheless look in specific places to find their target. Offenders using the onsite
track approach (.01) and attack (.20) their victim while he or she is inside (.00), sur-
rounded by other people (.16). In contrast, offenders using the off-site track always
approach (1.00) and attack their victim outside (1.00), while she or he is alone (.74),
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 327
moving the victim to a different location for the commission of the crime (1.00). Most
of the time offenders from the off-site track use coercion to bring their victim to the
crime site (.83). Moreover, their victims are involved in outdoors social activities
prior to the crime (1.00).
Additional Analyses With Modus Operandi Variables
To test the external validity of the LCA solution, the three scripts were put in relation-
ship with five modus operandi variables: (a) use of a weapon (yes/no), (b) offender’s
level of risk during the sexual assault (undressed/not undressed), (c) kidnap style
attack (yes/no), (d) type of sexual acts committed (sexual contacts/penetration/sexual
contacts and penetration/sexual without contact), and (e) level of force used by the
offender (no force/minimal/more than necessary). Interestingly, only the offender’s
level of force did not reach statistical significance in distinguishing the three scripts.
This is an important finding suggesting that the target selection process is independent
from the level of force used during the crime.
Serial sex offenders using a home script are significantly more likely to use a
weapon when committing the crime. This is congruent with the fact that for the home
intrusion track for instance, offenders are likely to use some kind of object to break
and enter into the victim’s residence. This object may later serve as a weapon. More-
over, these offenders are more likely to take more risk, getting completely undressed
during the sexual assault. This is also consistent with the fact that the location of the
crime (i.e., victim’s residence) provides a safe environment for the offender who argu-
ably is less likely to be interrupted by a third party. Furthermore, this could also
explain why offenders using a home script are more likely to commit both sexual
contacts and penetrate the victim during the sexual assault. Having more time with the
victim allows them to complete the sexual assault. However, kidnapping the victim is
more typical of the outdoor script. Although this significant difference makes sense
theoretically, it is also possible that the significant statistical difference was due to the
fact that in none of the home script events, the victim was kidnapped.
Victim Profile by Target Selection Script
The identified target selection scripts and their related tracks were then compared based
on the victims’ sociodemographic profiles (i.e., age and gender). This allowed an
assessment of whether or not a typical victim profile could be associated with each of
the target selection scripts. This step is particularly relevant, as prior sex offender typol-
ogies have stressed the importance of distinguishing between offenders against children
and offenders against adults. Table 4 shows that the mean age of the victims varies
from 10 years (SD = 1.8) for the off-site track, to 27 years (SD = 8.9) for the intrusion
track. The noncoercive track also shows a relatively young mean age, with the victim
being approximately 14 years old. The mean age for the three other tracks (i.e., invited,
coercive, and onsite) is around 20 years old. When looking at the victim’s age
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Table 4. Victim Profile, Scripts Frequency, and Crime Switching Patterns
Home Script Outdoors Script Social Script
17.2% (60)
Invited, 7.1%
24.6% (88)
22.2% (80)
21.4% (78)
7.5% (29)
Age of victima
Mean (SD) 27.3 (8.9) 16.2 (14.7) 14.2 (6.9) 22.5 (6.5) 17.5 (8.7) 10.0 (1.8)
Range 14-55 4-68 6-34 10-40 4-48 7-16
Category of victim,b % (n)
Early childhood (0-5 years) 0.0 (0) 15.4 (4) 0.0 (0) 0.0 (0) 6.4 (5) 0.0 (0)
Middle/late childhood (6-12 years) 0.0 (0) 38.5 (10) 43.2 (38) 5.0 (4) 16.7 (13) 93.1 (27)
Adolescence (13-17 years) 16.7 (10) 19.2 (5) 31.8 (28) 21.3 (17) 43.6 (34) 6.9 (2)
Adulthood (18+ years) 83.3 (50) 26.9 (7) 25.0 (22) 73.8 (59) 33.3 (26) 0.0 (0)
Sex of victim,c % (n)
Male (n = 70) 3.3 (2) 50.0 (13) 27.3 (24) 2.5 (2) 29.5 (23) 20.7 (6)
Female (n = 291) 96.7 (58) 50.0 (13) 72.7 (64) 97.5 (78) 70.5 (55) 79.3 (23)
Offending frequency (all)
Mean (SD) 0.8 (2.8) 0.4 (0.8) 1.2 (1.9) 1.1 (3.7) 1.3 (3.0) 0.2 (0.8)
Range 0-19 0-4 0-12 0-29 0-18 0-6
Prevalence of offenders, % (n) 23.6 (17) 19.4 (14) 50.0 (36) 29.2 (21) 36.1 (26) 6.9 (5)
Crime switching,d % (n)
No (n = 35) 29.4 (5) 35.7 (5) 36.1 (13) 19.0 (4) 34.6 (9) 0.0 (0)
Yes (n = 37) 70.6 (12) 64.3 (9) 63.9 (23) 81.0 (17) 65.4 (17) 100.0 (5)
Offending frequency (mean for offender
who have committed the crime)
3.5 1.9 2.4 3.8 3.0 5.8
a. Welch(3, 130,34) = 84.42, p > .01.
b. c2(15) = 199.99, p > .01, Cramer’s V = .43.
c. c2(5) = 48.70, p> .01, Cramer’s V = .37.
d. c2(5) = 19.44, p > .01, Cramer’s V = .52.
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 329
distribution, it is possible to draw a more accurate portrait of the victims associated
with each track. Although offenders using the off-site and the intrusion tracks appear to
target victims of specific ages (93% of the victims of the former group being in their
mid-/late childhood (6-12 years old) and 83% of the latter group being adults (18 years
and older), offenders using the other four tracks appear to indiscriminately target vic-
tims of varying ages. Looking at the victim’s gender, with the exception of the invited
track, all other tracks tend to involve a female victim, ranging from 98% for the coer-
cive to 71% of the offenses for the onsite tracks. The only distinctive track, in this
regard, is the invited track, where female and male victims are present in equal propor-
tions (50% each).
Crime Switching by Target Selection Script
Table 4 also presents information regarding crime switching among the three main
target selection scripts and related tracks. Among the 72 offenders included in our
sample, half of them (n = 37; 51%) changed at least once in the way they were target-
ing their victim. For the six target selection tracks identified, the majority of the
offenders responsible for the crime events were “switchers” (i.e., did not use the same
pattern of target selection for each of their crime). More specifically, although only
five offenders (7%) were responsible for the 29 crime events failing into the off-site
track, these offenders were all switchers, meaning that none of them made this target
selection track their preferred pattern. When taking into account the actual number of
offenders responsible for the offenses committed under each track, more recurrent
target selection scripts appear. Hence, offenders using the intrusion, the coercive, and
the onsite tracks to select their victim used such tracks approximately three times on
average. Offenders using the off-site target selection track committed a mean number
of six crimes each using this specific track.
This study explored the use of the crime scripts perspective combined with multivari-
ate LCA in the identification of target selection processes of serial sex offenders.
Three main target selection scripts were identified, each including two tracks. The first
script, the Home script, includes the intrusion and the invited tracks. This target selec-
tion script and its related tracks are primarily used with victims who were at home
prior to the crime. The noncoercive and the coercive tracks, included under the Out-
doors script, are characterized by victims who were outside when approached by the
offender. Finally, the Social script, including the onsite and the off-site tracks, is used
by offenders who find and approach their victims while she or he is involved in social
or recreational activities. The three scripts identified demonstrate the importance of
the victim’s activities prior to the crime when it comes to target selection. The theo-
retical relevance of these target selection scripts and their practical implications for
situational crime prevention strategies are discussed.
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330 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
The Home Script
The intrusion track is similar, in nature and prevalence, to the findings of Beauregard,
Proulx, et al. (2007) in their script analysis of the hunting process of sex offenders.
This script was also found by Warr (1988) in his study of the offending process of
burglars, in which the home intrusion pattern was defined as a hybrid offense, which
combined a violent crime with the opportunity structure of a property crime. In the
current study, the offenders using this target selection track (17%) often break into the
victim’s home and sexually assault an adult female victim while she is alone. Previous
research has suggested that this track is related to knowledge and experience in non-
sexual crime and a higher motivation for sexual crime, as it is associated with high risk
taking (e.g., offender is unfamiliar with the crime site, possibility of leaving evidence;
Beauregard, Proulx, et al., 2007; Warren et al., 1998). However, this target selection
pattern also provides great benefits to the offender, as the crime is committed inside,
lowering the risk of apprehension. It allows the offender to have more time to commit
the actual crime because witnesses or guardians, as proposed by the routine activities
approach, are less likely to interfere (Felson, 2002). This type of target selection can
thus be seen as more “rational” as the benefits will normally outweigh the risks associ-
ated with the commission of the crime (Clarke & Cornish, 1985). The following case
illustrates the different steps involved in the home-intrusion track.
Tom has committed several sexual assaults at intervals over the years. To
commit certain sexual assaults, he rides his bicycle around his own neighbour-
hood, taking the time to observe houses which provide a clear view of their
occupants. His targets of choice are single-family residences, given that they
offer easy access. Paul does his best to confirm that the targeted house is occu-
pied by a woman alone or a woman with children. He considers a variety of
indicators: the home’s decoration, whether a handbag is in view, the presence of
a single vehicle, movements of the woman observed through the home’s win-
dows. He often waits until the very early hours of the morning to commit the
assault, hoping to find the victim in a deep sleep. He enters at the back, through
a window. Once inside, he goes directly to the master bedroom. He immediately
uses physical violence to overpower the victim and prevent her from crying out.
He often finds it necessary to threaten the woman to lead her to wherever he
wants to attack her. He explains that, if a woman resists, he is capable of hitting
her or strangling her until she loses consciousness. After attacking her sexually,
he leaves the scene, saying nothing. On at least two occasions, he has also
abused children.
The invited track (7%), although mainly used with victims (children or adults) who
are not necessarily alone, is related to even less risk of apprehension. In fact, offenders
using this track benefit from a context that gives them the opportunity to be in the
presence of potential victims and to establish a more “intimate” relationship. It appears
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 331
that offenders using this target selection track most likely become acquainted with a
family, specifically targeting vulnerable victims or women living alone with children,
by, for example, offering helpful services. This is also exemplified in the study by
Smallbone and Wortley (2000) who found that 45% of extrafamilial offenders against
children established friendships with the parents of a child; 35% helped the parents
around the house, and 23% offered to babysit to gain access to a potential victim. In
doing so, the offenders create opportunities to gain the victim’s trust and open the door
to a favorable context for sexual activity. This target selection track thus stresses the
importance of the role of situation and opportunity in offending (Cornish & Clarke,
1986). The following case illustrates the home-invited track.
John has attacked seven victims. He contended that single-parent families,
where the mother lives with children, constitute a pool of potential victims who
are accessible and very vulnerable. In one instance, he was working as the
superintendent in a public-housing apartment building. While undertaking
work in an apartment, he became acquainted with the mother of two boys. John
was friendly and helpful to the woman, demanding nothing in return. He even
offered to look after her children while she worked. John explained that, by
discussing the mother’s children with her, he overcame her fears about him and
seemed as though he were a family friend. A few days later, on the pretext that
he was looking after other children in any event, John again offered to look
after the tenant’s children. He claimed that the mention of other children under
his care reassured the woman. The mother went out and John took the two boys
home with him. John quickly asked the boys if they wanted to look at comic
books. The boys followed him into his bedroom, where John showed them
comics and said he would give the comics to them if they would do something
for him. John then touched them sexually and performed fellatio on them.
Although crimes occurring in domestic settings are the most difficult to deter
through situational prevention, the home being by definition a private space (Small-
bone, Marshall, & Wortley, 2008), these two tracks still have practical implication in
terms of situational crime prevention. On one hand, the intrusion track suggests that
offenders look for any physical cues that could help them identify the home occu-
pant’s identity. As proposed by Beauregard and colleagues (Beauregard, Proulx,
et al., 2007; Beauregard, Rossmo, et al., 2007), contrary to the common view that
women are safer when they are at home, (single) women should be aware of how to
reduce their potential victimization risks when at home (e.g., closing curtains at night,
avoiding name plates that inform about their gender and marital status, lock their
windows and doors, etc.). Reducing these environmental cues increases the risks
associated with the use of this target selection track, thus helping to prevent its occur-
rence as offenders might be less interested in taking the risk of entering into a home
without prior knowledge of whom the occupants are. On the other hand, the invited
track suggests that parents may play a preventive role and that it is important to
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332 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
maximize protection within families. For example, as proposed by Wortley and
Smallbone (2006), public education programs can be put in place to sensitize parents
or caregivers to the need for effective supervision of children in their care. Parents and
caregivers should also be informed about how to recognize a potentially dangerous
situation, such as a purportedly helpful individual’s repeated attempts to be alone with
a child or another potential victim.
The Outdoors Script
The next two target selection tracks, the noncoercive (25%) and the coercive (22%),
both suggest a substantial amount of time spent by the offenders in preparing their
crime and selecting their victims (children or adults). These types of target selection
patterns were also identified by Cornish and Clarke (2003) and were referred as mun-
dane or opportunist offenders who likely offend simply because they can. Although
both tracks present higher risks of apprehension compared with the Home script, the
risk is even more noticeable for the coercive pattern. Contrary to the coercive track,
the offender using the noncoercive track approaches and attacks the victim without
having to use violence. The offenders meet with their victim while outdoors and then
gain their trust, allowing them to bring the victim inside, in a consensual way, to
commit the crime (e.g., a sex offender targeting a prostitute). Again, the crime is com-
mitted away from guardians and witnesses. The following is a case illustrating the
outdoors–noncoercive track.
James has committed three sexual assaults in a single month. He often wanders
around a neighborhood where prostitutes ply their trade. Although adult prosti-
tutes work the area, it is also known to harbor young male prostitutes. While
driving through the area one weekday afternoon, James noticed two young boys
attempting to get into a truck parked in an alleyway. He stopped to ask the
boys—whom one would have expected to be in school at the time—what they
were doing. After having asked the boys several questions, James learned that
they lived in a shelter from which they had run away. Promising not to report
them, he offered to take them for something to eat, an offer the boys quickly
accepted. Once in the restaurant, James explained to the boys that, to keep police
from finding them, it now seemed to him more prudent for them to come to his
apartment and order food to eat there. The group ate pizza at his apartment.
Then James told the boys he needed to shower and invited them to do the same.
The boys agreed, taking advantage of his hospitality. However, after they all had
showered, James began playing around with the boys, who were dressed only in
towels. He was highly aroused sexually, and was ready to have sexual relations
with the boys, particularly as they seemed willing. He began talking about sexu-
ality and showing them how to masturbate. To persuade them to commit sexual
acts, he offered them 10 dollars apiece to participate in group masturbation. In
need of money, the boys agreed. After ejaculating, James drove the victims to a
public place so as not to be further associated with the young runaways.
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 333
In the case of the coercive track, however, the offender waits outside for an
opportunity and then jumps on the victim, using coercion to bring her/him to another
outside location where the crime is committed. This track shows higher risk-taking as
the crime is committed outside and the victim’s reaction and resistance may alert
potential witnesses. This track is illustrated by the case below.
Ben is a sexual aggressor who has wreaked havoc for about 2 years, during which
he has attacked 12 women. One of his victims was 14 years old. When he experi-
ences the desire to sexually assault a woman, he drives around in his car searching
for a potential victim. This “hunt” can take place day or night. When he identifies
his victim, he parks his car some distance away. Then he follows the woman.
Once she arrives at a place convenient for his attack (an area with trees to provide
cover, an alleyway), he grabs the victim from behind. While strangling and
threatening her, he leads her away, and usually his attack lasts only a short time.
He demands fellatio or has forcible intercourse with the victim.
Because of the apparent opportunistic nature of the Outdoors script, reducing
temptations may be effective in preventing the commission of a sex crime, with
minimal danger of displacement to other targets (Wortley & Smallbone, 2006).
Offenders usually select targets and commit crimes that require the least effort or that
guarantee a certain success rate. Different strategies might then be put in place to
increase the effort that offenders must deploy or the risks they must take in order to
successfully commit the crime. This is especially true for the coercive target selection
track. Public settings often offer the greatest potential for control over the environ-
ment as authorities can design or restructure these public places accordingly (Wortley &
Smallbone, 2006). Such strategies could be as simple as extending guardianship or
increasing the natural surveillance of outdoor public places. As proposed by the rou-
tine activities approach, efforts at extending guardianship and natural surveillance
seek to encourage individuals to become aware of crimes that may occur within their
informal spheres of influence (i.e., informal social control). This can be achieved by
removing blind spots and natural obstacles, trimming bushes in parks or public spaces
that can reduce informal surveillance, or by making sure public spaces have appropri-
ate lightning. As explained by Johnson (2005), “improved lighting in problem areas
reduces their attractiveness as trysting locations because the lighting reduces per-
ceived privacy levels” (p. 23). Implementing or increasing the frequency of police
routine patrol or other types of surveillance teams (e.g., neighborhood watch, safety-
house programs, etc.), are other methods of extending guardianship and creating the
illusion of surveillance and higher risk of apprehension.
The Social Script
Finally, the Social script includes two target selection tracks: the onsite (21%) and the
off-site (8%) tracks. This script is used with targets who are involved in social or recre-
ational activities prior to the crime. Offenders using this script will normally go to
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334 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
specific recreational locations (e.g., bars, shopping malls, pools) to identify suitable
targets, without planning their crime or selecting their victims ahead of time. Similar to
offenders using the coercive track, these offenders will usually act directly on a victim,
without initial interaction, simply waiting for an available opportunity to present. As
suggested by Leclerc, Carpentier, and Proulx (2006), this type of crime is spontaneous
and unsophisticated, often compared with a “hit-and-run” attack. The onsite target
selection track is associated with a low risk of apprehension compared with the off-site
track, because of the indoor location of the crime. The following case illustrates the
social–onsite track.
Alan had attacked 17 victims, 8 of them during a 2-week period. During that time
he consumed a great deal of alcohol and drugs. He frequented various drinking
establishments. When sexually aroused, he entered the women’s washrooms and,
when the opportunity presented itself, sexually assaulted (more or less intru-
sively) a young woman just leaving a stall. He used no violence or particular
strategy in these crimes.
Because the off-site target selection track is characterized by an encounter and
attack locations that are outdoors, it forces the offender to act quickly and, as observed
for the coercive track, to often use coercion to control the victim and commit the
crime. As reported by Leclerc et al. (2006), strategies such as physical force and vio-
lence are mostly used when the target is resisting and the offender wants to proceed
further or enhance his chances of successful crime completion. This demonstrates that
the target selection process is highly dependent on the physical environment and
context in which the crime is committed (Canter & Larkin, 1993). The social-off-site
track is illustrated by the case below.
Martin sexually assaulted three victims during the summer, which were all at
social events. In one case, Martin was attending a concert in a park in the hope
of finding a vulnerable victim. At some point, he spotted a young woman, who
clearly was intoxicated, who appeared to be looking for something. He intro-
duced himself to her offering her some help. The victim explained that she was
looking for the restrooms. The offender showed her the way and decided to
accompany her. Once isolated from the crowd, the offender grabbed her by
behind and threw her on the ground behind bushes. He sexually forced himself
on her and left the crime scene after the sexual assault was completed.
Here again, the same situational prevention principles proposed for the Outdoors
script can be applied. In fact, as the victim is found and approached while in an inside-
public setting, improvement of surveillance and guardianship appears even more fea-
sible and relevant with this script. For example, as proposed by Wortley and Smallbone
(2006), increasing the risks associated with the crime-commission may require greater
surveillance of offending hot spots by using place managers. Individuals in charge of
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 335
security in these establishments could be made aware of potential sexual offenders’
modus operandi and their ways of selecting targets to better monitor for suspicious
behaviors. Also, the physical design of these facilities can be altered to increase suc-
cess in preventing this type of crime from occurring. For example, Smallbone and
Wortley (2000) found that 13% of extrafamilial offenders had selected their targets in
public bathrooms. Relocating public bathrooms to high-activity areas, modifying pub-
lic facilities with secluded and concealed entrances, and improving lighting are ways
to increase the natural surveillance of these facilities (Johnson, 2005; Wortley &
Smallbone, 2006). Also, as is the case in most European cities, the addition of a per-
manent janitor in public bathrooms can act as a constant guardianship. As the offenders
using this script appear to be quite spontaneous and opportunistic, altering the context
facilitating the commission of the crime will likely diminish opportunities and should
be sufficient to deter these offenders.
Victim Profile and Crime Switching
The current study also looked at the sociodemographic profiles of the victims (age and
gender) in association with the scripts and tracks identified. When looking more spe-
cifically at the victim’s gender, it is noteworthy to mention that, with the exception of
the invited track, the scripts and tracks identified were predominantly used with female
victims. It is of interest for prevention purposes to highlight that male victims were
most likely targeted by offenders having easy access to them, such as a family acquain-
tance or a new neighbor. Also, with the exception of the intrusion and the off-site
tracks, the four other target selection tracks presented a wide diversity in term of the
victim’s age. Offenders using the intrusion and the off-site tracks seemed to target
older and younger victims respectively, but looking at the three scripts identified, it
appears as though there were not any specific scripts for either aggressors of children
or aggressors of adults. Such findings clearly indicate the adaptability of sex offenders
to the context of the crime and the opportunities that arise. However, our findings also
show that certain tracks are more typical with adult victims than with child victims
(e.g., home intrusion). Because different victim types are likely to produce different
offending contexts, sex offenders adapt their scripts accordingly. This finding could
have important implications for research on sex offenders, as most of the typologies
developed based on the offender’s profile have treated sexual aggressors of children
and adults separately. Our findings, consistent with research on victim crossover
(see, e.g., Heil et al., 2003; Lussier et al., 2007), show that sex offenders may target
different types of victims and will adapt their target selection patterns to that particular
type of victim.
Finally, crime switching was investigated among the three target selection scripts
identified. Whereas half of the 72 offenders included in our sample presented an
exclusive pattern of target selection, the other half appears to be quite versatile, chang-
ing patterns according to different victims’ routine activities. As proposed by Wortley
and Smallbone (2006), offenders are not restricted to one type of situational category
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336 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
or, in this instance, script. This tendency appears to be particularly true for prolific
offenders who offend across the situational spectrum. Looking at our results, this was
specially the case for offenders using the off-site target selection track, which were all
“switchers.” Hence, although 8% of the crime events analyzed in the current study fit
into this category, no offender specialized in this track. This track could thus be seen
as an “on-the-side” target selection pattern, offenders using it only when an opportu-
nity presents itself. These findings highlight the importance of looking at the crime
event when examining target selection scripts, as this track would not have been found
had we focused on the offenders themselves. Indeed, as no offender defined his way
of selecting the targets specifically by the off-site track, this track would have likely
been “lost” in the data.
This study shows the importance of using an integrative approach when looking at
behavioral, routine activities, and geographic aspects of the crime in the investigation
of offending patterns. Using the rational choice approach and seeing crime as a script
makes it easier to understand the way offenders think, the risks they are willing to
take, as well the way in which they select their victims and commit their crimes. The
scripts identified demonstrate that the target selection stage is highly influenced by the
victim’s routine activities and the physical environment in which the crime takes
place. As proposed by Beauregard and colleagues (Beauregard, Proulx, et al., 2007;
Beauregard, Rossmo, et al., 2007), the type of location has a strong impact on the
types of strategies an offender will use to offend. The type of locations where the
offender and the victim meet can also trigger some strategies. Where the victim is and
what she is doing will then influence the course of the crime. If the victim is outside,
the offender might have to act faster and use violence to control the victim and reduce
the risk of apprehension. This interaction between the behavioral and the geographic
aspect of the crime demonstrates the relevance of the rational choice perspective when
it comes to understanding offending patterns, as it helps to illustrate the interactional
and adaptive nature of human behavior. Even when taking risks, the offender always
tries to reduce, as much as possible, the costs associated with the commission of the
crime by adapting his target selection and offending patterns to the specific context in
place. Also, as proposed by the script approach, by breaking down a specific crime
into smaller problems or single steps of the crime-commission process (such as focus-
ing on target selection), it becomes easier to identify a broader range of policy options
and possible points for intervention (Clarke & Cornish, 1985).
This study also highlighted the importance of focusing on the crime event, rather
than the offender, when investigating the target selection of sex offenders of stranger
victims. Previous typologies looking at the offender have stressed that aggressors of
children and aggressors of adults are too different in terms of their personality and the
types of crime committed and should thus be looked at separately. The current study
shows that when focusing on the crime event and target selection process, treating
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 337
these two groups separately appears less relevant. Also, by focusing on the crime
event and the way in which offenders select their victims, uncommon or less prevalent
scripts and tracks were found, increasing our knowledge of target selection strategies.
Finally, by looking at crime events, crime switching among scripts and their related
tracks could be explored. This allowed for our finding that a good proportion of
offenders are versatile when it comes to the manner in which they select their victim
and commit their crime. This result could have a significant impact on situational
crime prevention strategies. As discussed by Clarke and Cornish (1985), as each form
of crime appears to require specific remedies, shifting the focus from the offender to
the offense brings a range of options and interventions that were previously neglected
into the policy and situational prevention arenas.
Moreover, it is interesting to note that situational crime prevention strategies could
be put in place to prevent more than one script at a time. For instance, the strategies
aiming at increasing surveillance in certain location would make it harder for offend-
ers to use the outdoors or social script to target potential victims. Although displace-
ment is always a concern with situational crime prevention, it should be remembered
that certain scripts, such as the home-intrusion track, require skills and knowledge not
available to all sex offenders. Thus, the design of appropriate prevention measures
could lead to a “diffusion of benefits” instead of “crime displacement”.
This study, however, suffers from certain limitations. First, the sample only
included crimes committed by incarcerated offenders and for which the offenders
were charged and convicted of. Therefore, the results of the current study might only
reflect the target selection scripts of offenders who were not able to avoid detection
and were thus apprehended by the police. Hence, it may well be that the more risky
scripts have resulted in greater risks of apprehension and thus may explain, in part,
their higher prevalence. Indeed, those estimated to be at highest risk (the coercive and
noncoercive tracks) are the most prevalent in the sample. Moreover, this study is
based on self-reported information gathered during semistructured interviews with the
offenders, which might only reflect the offender’s perception of the crime. Safeguard-
ing against this concern, it is important to emphasize the fact that self-reported infor-
mation was compared with official data (i.e., police reports) and that, in the case of a
discrepancy, information from the official police data was used. Also, a different num-
ber of crimes per individual was used in the analyses, the number of crimes per
offender ranging from 2 to 37. This might have had an influence on the results. More
specifically, assuming stability in an offender’s target selection script, the prevalence
of each script found might be the result of our decision to count an uneven number of
crimes per offender. However, the high proportion of crime switching identified in our
data lessens the impact that this approach may have had on the results found. Finally,
some of the findings may not be generalized to all sex offenders as only a few cases
matched certain tracks identified (e.g., only five events in the off-site track). Future
studies should further investigate the prevalence of crime switching among target
selection scripts using appropriate statistical analyses, such as latent transition analysis.
Moreover, as offenders do not offend every time a potential victim has been targeted
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338 Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 22(3)
and the environmental risks are low, future research should investigate the motivation
of offenders in various situations.
Authors’ Note
The views expressed are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Correctional
Service of Canada. An earlier draft of this article was presented at the 2009 American Society
of Criminology Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The authors are particularly
grateful to Jennifer Wong and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an
earlier draft of this article.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication
of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.
1. Participants were also asked about “unofficial” victims. However, this information was
not analyzed in the current study because of the inability to check for inconsistencies with
official reports.
2. To minimize response distortion, offenders were promised complete anonymity and confi-
dentiality, and a guarantee that their information provided could not be used in any way
against them by the Correctional Service of Canada. Inmates, however, were told that if dur-
ing the course of the interview, the name of a potential victim or someone who is in danger
was brought up, the interviewer would have an obligation to inform the concerned authorities.
3. These variables cannot be observed directly and must be inferred from observed items pre-
selected by the researcher (Lanza et al., 2007).
4. The victim selection was coded as “nonrandom/patterned” if the victim was chosen because
of any group categorizations, selection processes, or hunting tactics used by the offender
(e.g., picking up prostitutes, taking in boarders, placing personal ads in newspapers, etc.).
In other words, the victim must have been part of a certain group, expressed unique class
characteristics, or engaged in specific actions that were not part of the routine activities of
the majority of society. Otherwise, the victim selection was coded as “random/nonpatterned”
(Rossmo, 1995).
5. “Noncoercive,” includes strategies such as seduction/persuasion, giving money/gifts, games,
con, using drugs/alcohol, whereas “coercive” includes the use of physical violence or threats.
6. Average assignment probabilities based on posterior probabilities for the six-model solution
ranged from .998 (.928-1.00) to .873 (.533-1.00).
7. Latent class analyses were also performed leaving out the variable Victim was outside, as this
variable was identified as a redundant item based on preliminary bivariate analyses conducted
(i.e., the variable was associated with four other variables used to create the subgroups when
performing c2). However, the number and characteristics of latent classes found when leaving
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Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard 339
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... To contribute to the literature on the phenomenon, this study examines the heterogeneity of offenders' and victims' behaviors, as well as situations among cases of SVMP. Following in the tradition of past research performing latent class analysis to unravel the heterogeneity of crime events (e.g., Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010), the examination of heterogeneity within a particular form of crime provides indications for specific prevention and intervention strategies to deploy according to offending patterns found. Research on sexual offending has revealed that perpetrators of certain sexual offenses like those committed against adults are more similar to perpetrators of non-sexual offenses than perpetrators of other types of sexual offenses such as those involving child victims (Lussier et al., 2021). ...
... Literature has showed that specific routine activities and lifestyles were associated with higher risk of victimization (Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010;Felson & Burchfield, 2004;Spano & Freilich, 2009). Six variables were included that relate to the victims' routine activities prior to the crime: (5) victim was engaged in domestic activities (i.e., at home, watching television, cooking, cleaning home, etc.), (6) victim was out at a social activity or event (i.e., at a bar, party, or other social event with friends), (7) victim was outdoors jogging, walking or in transit from one place/area to another), (8) victim had an active social life (i.e., victim is often present and participates in social activities or attends social events where other people are present), (9) victim was vulnerable to victimization (i.e., lack of capable guardianship due to victim being homeless or victim engaged in prostitution), and (10) victim was impaired prior to the assault (i.e., under the influence of alcohol or drugs). ...
... LCA predicts cases' subclass membership based on their responses to a set of observed categorical variables and produces mutually exclusive and exhaustive (i.e., nonoverlapping) latent classes (Goodman, 1974;Lanza et al., 2007). LCA is appropriate for the data in the current study because research of perpetrators of sexual offenses routinely reveals qualitative differences in risk factor profiles, behavioral profiles, and crime event characteristics (e.g., Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010;McCuish et al., 2015). Simply constructing an aggregate scale of offender behavior, victim activity, and situation variables would mask the ability to address the theoretical expectation that SVMP will differ qualitatively (i.e., in kind) and not just quantitatively (i.e., in degree). ...
... Several studies indicated, for example, that young children are often accompanied by a caregiver (e.g. parents, relatives, teachers) and that offenders must take advantage of a moment of inattention or use strategies to gain the trust of the children in order to isolate them (Chopin & Beauregard, 2020b;Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010;Leclerc et al., 2011). As with elder people, they spend most of their time in their own home, which force offenders to gain entrance in the victims' residence to attack them (Chopin & Beauregard, 2020a, 2021a. ...
... The first variable-offender and victim knew each other-suggests that such relationship may be used by the offender to ward off capable guardians. For instance, previous studies showed that offenders who knew their victims (in an extra-familial context) used their relationship to gain easier access to their victims, to bring them to isolated locations, to limit the risk of resistance, and to increase their participation in sexual acts for both adult and child victims (see Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010). Other variables measuring guardianship are: there were no witnesses (i.e. ...
... Studies show that the preferred pattern of aggression adopted by child molesters are to gain the child's trust to isolate him from handlers (Proulx et al., 1995). Child molesters have also been shown to use strategies to gain parents' trust for easy access to children (Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010;Smallbone & Wortley, 2000). We found that a large proportion of the offenders had an acquaintance relationship with their victims. ...
This study aims to further our understanding of sexual victimization using the routine activities theory (RAT) framework. Specifically, this study compared offenders' motivations as well as victims' vulnerability, inertia, gratifiability, and accessibility in elder, child, and younger adult victims. The sample used in this study consists of 931 cases of extrafamilial sexual assaults that occurred in France. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to examine the differences between the cases involving child (n = 193), adult (n = 500), and elder victims (n = 238). First, findings indicate that offenders do not present different motivations depending on the type of victim. Second, analyses suggest that child and elder victims presented similar patterns of suitability in comparison to adult victims. Finally, results show that for both child and elder victims, accessibility represents a major obstacle but manifested differently. Theoretical and practical implications as well as directions for future research are discussed.
... They are also aware of how their potential targets use these spaces (Beauregard et al., 2007). Thus, crimes are concentrated in areas that both attract potential targets and provide opportunities to offend (Brantingham & Brantingham, 1984;Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010). Hewitt et al. (2020) find that the degree to which stranger sexual assault offenders travel to sexually assault (journey-to-crime) varies according to the offender's motivation. ...
... Related to the type of encounter location is how victims are approached at those locations. Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard (2010) categorize the manner of approach by perpetrators as either coercive (surprising victims and using physical force to move them away from potential eyewitnesses, e.g., "blitzing" and forcibly kidnapping) or non-coercive (non-confrontational, earning the victim's trust enough to isolate them., e.g., asking for directions). ...
... Similar to the victims, suspects linked to these walking-waiting sexual assaults were more frequently African American. Given that the majority of the sexual assaults occur in areas with high concentrations of African American residents, this suggests that perpetrators might be offending in locations with which they are familiar or use regularly ("awareness spaces"; Brantingham & Brantingham, 1984;Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010), which lends support to the offenders being more compulsive or opportunistic in their motivation (Hewitt et al., 2020). Regarding age, the walking-waiting suspects were also more frequently aged 18 to 30 compared to all other suspects. ...
Within a routine activity framework, we explore walking-waiting sexual assaults – committed by strangers when victims were outdoors and did not consensually leave the scene. With data from untested sexual assault kits spanning decades in one urban jurisdiction, we found these were common (a fourth of the sample) with a distinct offending pattern. African American women were identified as the most frequent “targets” due to the use of certain public spaces that appear to lack “capable guardianship.” “Motivated offenders” were often serial sexual offenders but not exclusively tied to walking-waiting sexual assaults. Findings improve our understanding of the intersection of stranger and outdoor sexual assaults. Implications and future directions discussed.
... Approaching a child from outside the home is riskier, and decision-making in this regard can be complicated (Plummer, 2018). Therefore, it is easier to approach children in vulnerable situations (Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010). After getting close to the child, perpetrators try to gain the child's trust, thereby also gaining control over them (Cornish, 1998). ...
Full-text available
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... First, LCAs were performed using PROC LCA, an add-on for SAS 9.4 for Windows (Lanza et al., 2007), to identify victimization classes. While LCA has been primarily used in the health and medical domains, it has been increasingly used in behavioral research, particularly in criminology, over the past few years (e.g., Deslauriers-Varin & Beauregard, 2010;Spaan et al., 2020). LCA assumes that discrete latent variables underlie a specific population and helps to identify underlying patterns in data or subgroups of individuals who share important characteristics or behaviors (Collins & Lanza, 2010). ...
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Violence in sport is a major social issue generating great interest in research over the last 10 years. Studies to date highlight various forms and manifestations of violence in the lives of teenagers practicing individual or team sports, in competitive and recreational contexts. Although allegations of sexual violence involving coaches most often reach media attention, psychological and physical violence involving teammates, parents, and coaches are also prevalent. While profiles of offenders in the sport context have contributed to a better understanding of the issue, similar profiles need to be elaborated for young victims to delineate varying degrees of risk, adaptation, and needs. Latent class analyses were conducted to empirically identify different patterns of exposure to violence in sport from a sample of 1057 athletes aged 14-17 years. Teenagers participated in an online survey assessing their experiences of violence using the Violence Toward Athletes Questionnaire. Results highlighted three different profiles of victimization in the sport context: (a) a non-victimized profile constituting only 37% of the sample; (b) a profile representing 52% of the sample that is mainly exposed to psychological violence by teammates, coaches, and parents; and (c) a "poly-victimized" profile, representing 10% of the sample, that is exposed to all forms of violence at the hands of various perpetrators (teammates, coaches, and parents). The identified profiles were compared according to different indicators of sport practice, athletic behaviors, and mental health. This study delineates the influence of single and multiple forms of violence and its compound consequences on mental health and sport-related behaviors, thus portraying various degrees of need for tailored prevention and intervention measures.
... Perpetrators are also aware of how their potential targets use these spaces. Thus, crimes are concentrated in locations that attract potential targets and provide opportunities to offend [5][6][7][8]. ...
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Environmental criminological research on rape series is an understudied field due largely to deficiencies in official and publicly available data. Additionally, little is known about the spatial patterns of rapists with a large number of stranger rapes. With a unique integration and application of spatial, temporal, behavioral, forensic, investigative, and personal history data, we explore the geography of rape of a prolific, mobile serial stranger rapist identified through initiatives to address thousands of previously untested rape kits in two U.S. urban, neighboring jurisdictions. Rape kit data provide the opportunity for a more complete and comprehensive understanding of stranger rape series by linking crimes that likely never would have been linked if not for the DNA evidence. This study fills a knowledge gap by exploring the spatial offending patterns of extremely prolific serial stranger rapists. Through the lens of routine activities theory, we explore the motivated offender, the lack of capable guardianship (e.g., built environment), and the targeted victims. The findings have important implications for gaining practical and useful insight into rapists’ use of space and behavioral decision-making processes, effective public health interventions and prevention approaches, and urban planning strategies in communities subjected to repeat targeting by violent offenders.
... These variables were derived from previous research (e.g. Deslauriers-Varin and Beauregard, 2010;Leclerc and Felson, 2016) and are the following: (17) victim was involved in domestic activities (e.g. watching TV, cooking, sleeping), (18) victim was sleeping, (19) victim was commuting, (20) victim was hitchhiking/car passenger, (21) victim was walking/running, (22) victim was visiting someone, (23) victim was working, (24) victim was engaged in sex work, and (25) victim was partying. ...
The purpose of this study is to examine factors influencing victim resistance during rape. Specifically, this study aims to understand which factors impact victim resistance using a multivariate approach focused on situational aspects related to offender, victim, and crime context characteristics. The sample includes 2,017 rape cases where victims did not resist, resisted passively, resisted verbally, or resisted physically. The first step of this study uses bivariate analyses to examine the relationship between the different categories of victim resistance and offender, victim, and crime context characteristics. Second, we computed three sequential binomial regressions in order to better understand the impact of each variable in multivariate modeling. The findings suggest that victim resistance is impacted by three main dimensions: victims' physical and psychological vulnerabilities, the mentalizing of victimization risk, and the analysis of offenders' vulnerabilities and additional risks to the victim. Both theoretical and practical implications for victims as well as for various actors in the criminal justice system are discussed.
Although studies have been made of different subtypes of individuals who committed sexual homicides, the research into nonstranger and stranger sexual homicides remains limited. This study therefore aimed to examine whether those who sexually murder nonstrangers differ from those who kill strangers. Data derived from police records, court documents, and published case reports spanning a 31 year period (1988–2018) in mainland China were used to examine the modus operandi of 127 males who committed sexual homicides (45 nonstranger and 82 stranger cases). Relative to nonstranger sexual homicides, stranger sexual homicides were more likely to have been committed by individuals with a previous sexual offense conviction and the victims were more likely to have been single and employed at the time of the offense. Furthering the analysis, a logistic regression found that individuals who targeted strangers were significantly more likely to have committed their homicide at an outdoor location, to have been sexually motivated, and to have used murder weapons that required more physical strength than those who killed nonstranger victims. These findings can be informative to law enforcement agents and security professionals in their investigative processes.
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L’échange et l’acquisition de compétences de cybersécurité sur le dark web par la communauté pédophile font partis de la sous-culture pédophile sur Internet. Dans cette perspective, cette étude s’intéresse au processus d’enculturation en matière de cybersécurité par les utilisateurs de forums pédophiles sur le dark web et est encadrée par l’approche de l’expertise criminelle. Spécifiquement, cette recherche a pour objectif de déterminer si les thématiques discutées constituent un ensemble homogène ou hétérogène et si elles sont associées à des indicateurs d’expertise et d’intérêt de la part de la communauté pédophile. Cette étude se fonde sur l’analyse de 290 fils de discussion (FDDs) spécifiquement dévolus aux sujets de cybersécurité, extrait de trois forums pédophiles sur le dark web. Une analyse en classes latentes a permis de classifier les différents FDDs en quatre classes en fonction des thématiques traitées : stratégies réactives de confrontation avec la justice, stratégies proactives basiques, stratégies de lutte contre les menaces non judiciarisées, stratégies proactives avancées. Les indicateurs de validité externes permettent de confirmer l’existence d’un lien entre les sujets traités, le niveau d’expertise et le niveau d’intérêt des utilisateurs de ces forums confirmant l’existence d’un processus d’enculturation au sein de la sous-culture pédophile sur internet.
This paper considers a wide class of latent structure models. These models can serve as possible explanations of the observed relationships among a set of m manifest polytomous variables. The class of models considered here includes both models in which the parameters are identifiable and also models in which the parameters are not. For each of the models considered here, a relatively simple method is presented for calculating the maximum likelihood estimate of the frequencies in the m way contingency table expected under the model, and for determining whether the parameters in the estimated model are identifiable. In addition, methods are presented for testing whether the model fits the observed data, and for replacing unidentifiable models that fit by identifiable models that fit. Some illustrative applications to data are also included.
Routine activity theory has traditionally emphasized identifying victimization risks and suitable targets for crime. Assessments of the role of guardianship in criminal events are less emphasized. Explorations of who uses guardianship to attempt to reduce their chances for victimization have been developed only minimally, typically relying on demographics. This research goes further in assessing who uses self-protective strategies, considering lifestyles related to proximity to motivated offenders, the suitability of individuals as targets, and how these characteristics influence the use of self-protective devices. Results show the most influential lifestyle characteristics and behaviors on use of self-protective measures are exposure to potential offenders and neighborhood characteristics. Fear of crime, substance use, and individual demographics show only small relationships to guardianship.
Crime and Everyday Life, Fourth Edition, provides an illuminating glimpse into roots of criminal behavior, explaining how crime can touch us all in both small and large ways. This innovative text shows how opportunity is a necessary condition for crime to occur, while exploring realistic ways to reduce or eliminate crime and criminal behavior by removing the opportunity to complete the act. Encouraging students to take a closer look at the true nature of crime and its effects on their lives, author Marcus Felson and new co-author Rachel L. Boba (an expert on crime prevention, crime analysis and mapping, and school safety) maintain the book's engaging, readable, and informative style, while incorporating the most current research on criminal behavior and routine activity theory. The authors emphasize that routine daily activities set the stage for illegal acts, thus challenging conventional wisdom and offering students a fresh perspective, novel solutions for reducing crime … and renewed hope. New and Proven Features Includes new coverage of gangs, bar problems, and barhopping; new discussion of the dynamic crime triangle; and expanded coverage of technology, Internet fraud, identity theft, and other Internet pitfalls; The now-famous “fallacies about crime” are reduced to nine and are organized and explained even more clearly than in past editions; Offers updated research on crime as well as new examples of practical application of theory, with the most current crime and victimization statistics throughout; Features POP (Problem-Oriented Policing) Center guidelines and citations, including Closing Streets and Alleys to Reduce Crime, Speeding in Residential Areas, Robbery of Convenience Stores, and use of the Situational Crime Prevention Evaluation Database; Updated “Projects and Challenges” at the end of each chapter Intended Audience This supplemental text adds a colorful perspective and enriches classroom discussion for courses in Criminological Theory, Introduction to Criminal Justice, and Introductory Criminology.
The paper provides a case study of a sustained crime expansion. The case study is offence-specific (motor vehicles stolen for resale purposes) and restricted to a particular time frame (1974-92) and setting (a Canadian province). 'How' offenders have collectively designed this crime increase is given a salient analytical status and made to explain 'why' it occurred in the first place. As suggested by Cornish (1994) crimes can be analysed as behavioural scripts of various complexity, and offending activities as the purposive experimentation and tinkering of such scripts. Our main argument is that multiple innovations or script alterations have been successfully introduced and adopted by a significant mix of motivated and suitable participants, producing over time a cumulative or sustaining effect on yearly output of unrecovered stolen vehicles. In order to document this 'aggregate learning' process we rely on a subset of police investigations on resale networks.
In both the United States and Canada, a community protection approach to the perceived enduring dangerousness of sex offenders has emerged since the 1980s, in response to several high profile cases involving the sexual assault and murder or mutilation of young children. The key elements in this community protection approach are sex offender registration and tracking, community notification, and post-sentence controls in the form of civil commitment, peace bonds, and community surveillance. This paper compares the different trajectories community protection has taken in the United States and in Canada and offers an explanation for the relatively slower and more cautious approach taken by the Canadian federal government, compared to the rapid, aggressive approach taken in the United States at both a federal and state level.
Sexual assault has been a frequent topic of research for several decades, especially for feminist researchers. Generally, feminist research suggest that there are high levels of sexual assault against women because of a patriarchal, rape-supportive culture. However, not all women have the same heightened risk for sexual assault victimization. Wh the feminist perspective does not adequately account for are the variations in rape victimization rates across the female population. This is where the importance of theory that focuses on individual statuses and lifestyles becomes important. By combining the two perspectives, explanations of sexual assault victimization can be made more vigorous and instructive. The data in this article come from 674 college and university women in 12 southern postsecondary institutions in eight states who completed an in-depth survey. Analyses focused on sexual assault in general and an more serious forms of sexual assault. Findings suggest tat the combination of feminism and ro...
Situational prevention seeks to reduce opportunities for specific categories of crime by increasing the associated risks and difficulties and reducing the rewards. It is composed of three main elements: an articulated theoretical framework, a standard methodology for tackling specific crime problems, and a set of opportunity-reducing techniques. The theoretical framework is informed by a variety of "opportunity" theories, including the routine activity and rational choice perspectives. The standard methodology is a version of the action research paradigm in which researchers work with practitioners to analyze and define the problem, to identify and try out possible solutions, and to evaluate and disseminate the results. The opportunity-reducing techniques range from simple target hardening to more sophisticated methods of deflecting offenders and reducing inducements. Displacement of crime has not proved to be the serious problem once thought, and there is now increasing recognition that situational measu...
Successful situational crime prevention measures tend to be characterized by their crime-specific approach, and by their considerable knowledge about how the crime In question was committed. Beyond these general prescriptions for approaching the tasks of crime analysis and crime control, however, little further guidance Is available. This paper borrows a concept from cognitive science—the notion of the script—to examine the crime-commission process In more detail. By drawing attention to the way that events and episodes unfold, the script concept offers a useful analytic tool for looking at behavioral routines In the service of rational, purposive, goal-oriented action. A script-theoretic approach provides a way of generat-ing, organizing and systematizing knowledge about the procedural aspects and procedural requirements of crime commission. It has the potential for eliciting more crime-specific, detailed and comprehensive offenders' accounts of crime commission, for extending analysis to all the stages of the crime-commission sequence and, hence, for helping to enhance situational crime prevention policies by drawing attention to a fuller range of possible inter-vention points. As to theory, the script concept enables one aspect of the rational choice perspective on criminal behavior—the unfolding of criminal events—to be developed further, and captures something of the routlnlzed quality, yet flexibly responsive nature of criminal decision making.