From online to offline sexual offending: Episodes and obstacles

Script theory is well known to criminologists. This approach of studying crime allows one to break down criminal acts into a series of steps and is useful when analyzing the processes, decisions and actions of offenders. Generally, these scripts are used to study offenses such as crime against property (e.g. theft), suicide bombings or carjacking.

On the other hand, when it comes to online offending, most research has adopted a typological approach. While this type of approach is useful in understanding the different types of offenders, they are not helpful when it comes to understanding the mechanisms and factors of offender behaviour online.

In this key study, researchers Francis Fortin, Sarah Paquette and Benoît Dupont used the ‘script approach’ to understand the dynamics of a small proportion of sexual offenders who migrated from the consumption of child sexual exploitation material to sexual assault. Through a review of the scientific literature, the authors determined a scenario for four incidents, the consumption of legal pornography, exploration of tools, immersion (i.e. interacting more with others) and acting out.

Even though this study identified likely pathways to offending, there are still some interesting avenues for further research on this topic. If you are interested in script theory, this paper provides a different approach to its use in relation to online sexual offending.

Cite: Fortin, F., Paquette, S. and Dupont, B. (2018). From online to offline sexual offending: Episodes and obstacles. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, 39(2018), 33-41.