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Medical and Psychological Methods for Preventing Sexual Offences Against Children

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SBU Assessment

Presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence for effects on health, social welfare or disability. Full assessments include economic, social and ethical impact analyses. Assessment teams include professional practitioners and academics. Before publication the report is reviewed by external experts, and scientific conclusions approved by the SBU Board of Directors.


The primary goal in treating individuals at risk of committing sexual offences against children is to prevent more children from becoming victims. Few crimes are considered to be as repugnant as sexual offences against children, and society highly values every offence that can be prevented. However, relatively little interest has been directed at research intended to identify which medical and psychological interventions that actually prevent individuals at risk and known perpetrators from committing sexual offences.

The Swedish government assigned SBU to assess the effects of methods used to treat people who have committed, or are at risk of committing, sexual offences against children. Concurrently, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare was assigned to survey the use of such treatments in Sweden.

This systematic literature review scrutinises the scientific evidence for preventive medical and psychological interventions directed at offenders. We identified major weaknesses in the scientific evidence, e.g. regarding the largest category of offenders; adult males. In the absence of findings from reliable research, a reasonable treatment and follow-up strategy might be to reduce sex crime-specific risk factors, e.g. sexual preoccupation, in offenders having the highest risk of recidivism.

How to cite this report: SBU. Medical and psychological methods for preventing sexual offences against children. Stockholm: Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment (SBU); 2011. SBU report no 207E.

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Scientific Article

Langstrom N, Enebrink P, Lauren EM, Lindblom J, Werko S, Hanson RK. Preventing sexual abusers of children from reoffending: systematic review of medical and psychological interventions. BMJ 2013;347:f4630.
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