A Chip Off the Old Block: The Impact of Fathers on Sexual Offending Behavior

Published In

Trauma, Violence, & Abuse

Document Type


Publication Date



While parenting factors are commonly included as early risk markers for sexual aggression, data specific to paternal impacts on sexual offending are scattered. This review provides a thorough and systematic account of what is known regarding the fathers of sexual offenders. Thirty-four studies were categorized according to four distinct research questions, each addressing theoretical mechanisms by which fathers may influence the violent sexual behavior of their sons. The results suggest that the strongest impacts occur when sons are witness to their fathers engaging in acts of sexual abuse or domestic violence, in accordance with social learning theory. Father–son attachment or relationship quality also appears to have a measurable impact on the son’s engagement in sexual violence. However, paternal demographics and characteristics were generally ineffective at predicting sons’ sexual offenses. Finally, the differences between fathers of adult and juvenile sexual offenders are explored. Implications of those findings for research and applied interventions are included as they may be informative for prevention programming.


Copyright © 2020 by SAGE Publications



Persistent Identifier