Molest Scale

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The Molest Scale is supposedly designed to measure the cognitive distortions of child molesters.[1]

Description

"The cognitive distortions of sexual offenders are considered to be influential in the etiology and maintenance of deviant sexual behavior and are commonly accepted as valid predictors of treatment potential and success, despite the lack of systematic research to support these assumptions. Contributing to this gap in the research is the shortage of psychometrically sound assessment techniques to measure these cognitive distortions." "The present paper describes the development and validation of the MOLEST Scales, designed to respectively assess the cognitive distortions of child molesters."

Properties

  • 38 items
  • "Results indicate that the MOLEST Scales is a promising clinical and research measures, demonstrating strong internal consistency and reliability, convergent and discriminative validity, freedom from a socially desirable response bias, and utility in assessing the efficacy of a cognitive restructuring treatment component."

Items

  1. I believe that sex with children can make the child feel closer to adults. (.8647)
  2. Since some victims tell the offender that it feels good when the offender touches them, the child probably enjoys it and it probably won't affect the child much. (.8376)
  3. Many children who are sexually assaulted do not experience any major problems because of the assaults. (.7967)
  4. Sometimes, touching a child sexually is a way to show love and affection. (.7889)
  5. Sometimes children don't say no to sexual activity because they are curious about sex or enjoy it. (.7850)
  6. When kids don't tell that they were involved in sexual activity with an adult it is probably because they liked it or weren't bothered by it. (.7758)
  7. Having sexual thoughts and fantasies about a child isn't all that bad because at least it is not really hurting the child. (.7721)
  8. If a person does not use force to have sexual activity with a child, it will not harm the child as much. (.7669)
  9. Some people are not "true" child molesters--they are just out of control and made a mistake. (.7534)
  10. Just fondling a child is not as bad as penetrating a child, and will probably not affect the child as much. (.7491)
  11. Some sexual relations with children are a lot like adult sexual relationships. (.7321)
  12. Sexual activity with children can help the child learn about sex. (.7318)
  13. I think child molesters often get longer sentences than they really should. (.7248)
  14. Kids who get molested by more than one person probably are doing something to attract adults to them. (.7211)
  15. Society makes a much bigger deal out of sexual activity with children than it really is. (.7206)
  16. Sometimes child molesters suffer the most, lose the most, or are hurt the most as a result of a sexual assault on a child more than a child suffers, loses, or is hurt. (.7011)
  17. It is better to have sex with one's child than to cheat on one's wife. (.6835)
  18. There is no real manipulation or threat used in a lot of sexual assaults on children. (.6764)
  19. Some kids like sex with adults because it makes them feel wanted and loved. (.6695)
  20. Some men sexually assaulted children because they really thought the children would enjoy how it felt. (.6629)
  21. Some children are willing and eager to have sexual activity with adults. (.6492)
  22. During sexual assaults on children, some men ask their victims if they liked what they were doing because they wanted to please the child and make them feel good. (.6484)
  23. Children who have been involved in sexual activity with an adult will eventually get over it and go on with their lives. (.6298)
  24. Some children can act very seductively. (.6193)
  25. Trying to stay away from children is probably enough to prevent a molester from molesting again. (.6028)
  26. A lot of times, sexual assaults on children are not planned.., they just happen. (.6022)
  27. Many men sexually assaulted children because of stress, and molesting helped to relieve that stress. (.5960)
  28. A lot of times, kids make up stories about people molesting them because they want to get attention. (.5635)
  29. If a person tells himself that he will never molest again, then he probably won't. (.5442)
  30. If a child looks at an adult's genitals, the child is probably interested in sex. (.5379)
  31. Sometimes victims initiate sexual activity. (.5363)
  32. Some people turn to children for sex because they were deprived of sex from adult women. (.5035)
  33. Some young children are much more adult-like than other children. (.4990)
  34. Children who come into the bathroom when an adult is getting undressed or going to the bathroom are probably just trying to see the adult's genitals. (.4944)
  35. Children can give adults more acceptance and love than other adults. (.4721)
  36. Some men who molest children really don't like molesting children. (.4721)
  37. I think the main thing wrong with sexual activity with children is that it is against the law. (.4426)
  38. If most child molesters hadn't been sexually abused as a child, then THEY probably never would have molested a child. (.3302)

Criticism

A study found:[2]

  • Child molesters endorsed as many cognitive distortions as students.
  • Both child molesters and students endorsed significantly more cognitive distortions than rapists and nonsexual offenders.
  • Rapists endorsed as many cognitive distortions as nonsexual offenders.

Another study commented:[3]

What these scales do measure is for instance people's siding with isolated statements that could inform a vision on comparative penology ("/ think child molesters often get longer sentences than they really should'). Some statements require an endorsement of public consensus, others require knowledge and uncritical endorsement of the minimal scientific proceedings that take young children as subjects, and yet others require absurd forms of moral commensuration ("It is better to have sex with one's child than to cheat on one's wife"). Some statements require an impossible totalizing of public opinion ("Society makes a much bigger deal out of sexual activity with children than it really is"). To "agree" or "strongly agree" with such statements cannot be unambiguously interpreted. Paradoxical or combinatory formulation of items at times makes it impossible to return a meaningful answer ("There is no real manipulation or threat used in a lot of sexual assaults on children"; "Caressing a child's body or genitals usually is not a sexual act" [emphases added]).

The frequent absence of neutrality of item formulations (molest, assault, abuse, victim) leads to problems in interpreting test takers' responses. Do test takers agree/disagree with formulation, with vignette scenarios, or with the extreme closure these vignettes accomplish at the level of form? Obviously one cannot measure moral evaluations if one introduces these unilaterally - a problem in fact hovering over the entire research vista of "sexual abuse". Many items simply cannot be meaningfully refuted given their indefinite or conditional formulation ("I believe that sex with children can make the child feel closer to adults" which is obviously correct however one interprets "felt closeness"). Other statements simply seem to require a moral verdict on paraphilic ideation per se, and require tacit compliance to a questionable idea of moral comparability ("Having sexual thoughts and fantasies about a child isn't all that bad because at least it is not really hurting the child'). Finally, some items require offenders to endorse theses for which there is sizable evidence in the literature, but of which the explanation, rather than the veracity, might prove salient ("Children who have sex with adults will have sexual problems when they grow up", which is stated to require a reverse scoring, meaning that endorsement means undistorted cognition).

References

  1. Bumby, K. M. (1996). "Assessing the cognitive distortions of child molesters and rapists: Development and validation of the MOLEST and RAPE scales". Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 8: 37-54. 
  2. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Massil_Benbouriche/publication/265728873_A_Rasch_Analysis_of_the_Bumby%27s_Molest_Scale_A_Failed_Attempt_at_Increasing_Discriminant_Validity/links/541a301b0cf25ebee9888a28.pdf
  3. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-60462012000100001