In 1998 there were an estimated 3.2 million arrests of women, accounting for 22% of all arrests that year.
Based on self-reports of victims of violence, women account for 14% of violent offenders, an annual average of about 2.1 million violent female offenders.
Women accounted for about 16% of all felons convicted in State courts in 1996: 8% of convicted violent felons, 23% of property felons, and 17% of drug felons.
In 1998 more than 950,000 women were under correctional supervision, about 1% of the U.S. female population.
- Not only men are molesters - Los Angeles Times (08/16/2002)
- Female pedophilia is rare, and difficult to fathom - Chicago Tribune (01/13/2004)
- Case of Rabbanit Bruria Keren AKA: Rebbetzin Keren, Case of the Burka Wearing Mother - Beit Shemish, Tsfat, Bnei Brak, Elad, Israel
- Case of Joyce Abram - North Bellwood, NY
- Case of Malka Leifer, Principal of Adass Israel Girls School - Elsternwick, Australia
- Case of Rochelle Marcus - Rogers Park JCC Day-Care Center, Chicago, IL
- Case of Marla Marks - Dorsett, Great Britain
- Case of Marni Nasia Rubin - Toledo, OH
- Case of Dana R. Schwartzenfeld - Buffalo Grove, IL and West Bloomfield, MI
Last month, Amy Duane, a 37-year-old mother of three, was sentenced to four years in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old boy. Her friend, Debra Favre, 39, will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to having sex with a 16-year-old boy and serving alcohol to minors in Duane's home in Palm Beach County.
When men commit sex crimes, they spark horror but little surprise. For the most part, we think we understand them. But many people seem unwilling to believe that women are capable of such things.
"I think the first reaction is denial. Then people think, `She has to be crazy,"' Gail Ryan said in a report published by ABCNews.com. Ryan has studied hundreds of sex offender cases and directs the Perpetration Prevention Program at the Kempe Children's Center in Denver.
"I think the public feels that a woman who does such things must be mentally ill, as opposed to the whole population of men [who are sex offenders]. That's because women are regarded as nurturers and mothers."
In fact, the thought of a woman molesting a child is so abhorrent that for years researchers avoided the subject, making scientific studies rare and limiting our understanding of female pedophilia.
"We don't want to see mothers in that capacity," says Alison Tarlow-Sale, a psychologist who specializes in treating sexual abuse.
Why do they do it?
Make no mistake, sex offenses are still very much a man's crime, according to the Justice Department. Men were the perpetrators in 96 percent of the sex assaults reported in 1999.
Women were most often involved in cases in which the victim was under age 6, making up 12 percent of those offenders. Women were involved in 3 percent of the sex cases in which the victim was age 6 through 12, and 3 percent for victims ages 13 through 17.
Experts are not able to draw an accurate profile of a typical female sex offender, because they are so rare. The few psychologists who have studied the issue believe female pedophiles are most likely to be women who have had failed adult relationships, who have suffered a great loss, or who have been victims of abuse themselves.
Middle-age women who have sex with teenage boys--classified as "Teacher/Lovers" by researchers--sometimes have additional motives, psychologists say.
"You're talking about a power differential," says Tarlow-Sale. The offender "is a person of perceived power, so they're going to have a much greater influence [on the child]. In the case of a teacher, that would certainly be the situation."
Some believe female pedophiles are struggling to fulfill emotional needs through sexual relationships that are entirely within their control. Desperate for love but trapped in an unsatisfying marriage, or unable to sustain any kind of adult relationship, a woman looks to a child for the affection, intimacy and attention that she has failed to secure from an adult male.