chapter  2
28 Pages

Theories about Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders

What causes people to commit sex crimes and how do sex offenders differ from nonsex offenders? There is no single, universally accepted answer. Instead, there are different answers linked to different theories of sex crimes and sex offenders. But that begs the question: What is a theory? A theory is more than a mere hunch, and it is more than someone’s personal ideas about the causes of something. Theories may involve hunches and ideas, but they are more than that. A conventional definition is that a theory is a “set of logically interrelated statements in the form of empirical assertions about properties of infinite classes of events or things” (Gibbs, 1972, p. 5). As the definition indicates, a theory is first a set of logically interrelated statements. A theory might claim that certain types of brain abnormalities cause people to commit sex crimes and then add that certain types of brain abnormalities cause people to have low impulse control and low impulse control is the proximate cause of sex crimes. There are three interrelated statements here. One statement is that certain types of brain abnormalities cause low impulse control. A second statement is that low impulse control causes sex crimes. A third statement is that certain types of brain abnormalities cause sex crimes indirectly through (or because of) low impulse control.