Abstract

Researchers argue there is a male monopoly in the perpetration of child sexual abuse, and that a male sexual interest in children is relatively common in society. Government and organizations working with children have done little to address possible implications of such research. This study explores gender differences in an expressed sexual interest in children, a history of childhood sexual abuse, and the relationship between these two factors. A self‐administer questionnaire was given to a sample of 92 female and 91 male public sector child care workers. Results showed a significantly higher percentage of males (15 per cent) than females (4 per cent) expressed a sexual interest in children. Females (20 per cent) were more than twice as likely as males (8 per cent) to report childhood sexual abuse. More than twice as many men who had been sexually abused as a child (29 per cent) expressed a sexual interest in children compared with non‐abused men (14 per cent), but this did not reach statistical significance. In summary, this study found that a sexual interest in children is relatively common among male public sector child care workers. Prevalence findings for childhood sexual abuse are broadly in line with other research. Experiencing childhood sexual abuse was not related to a sexual interest in children, but this finding is based on small numbers reporting such an interest.