May 06, 2006
Female Sexual Predators: The Veiled Epidemic
Gordon E. Finley
From the increasing frequency with which reports of female teachers having sex with their pupils are appearing in the print
and electronic media to Lauren Book’s article “My Nanny Molested Me” in the February issue of Seventeen
magazine, concerned citizens have every right to be asking themselves: “What is going on here?” And, perhaps most
critically: “Is this the tip of the iceberg?”
Basically, the answer is “yes, it is the tip of the iceberg.” It also is fair to ask: “How do we know?”
It is difficult to know with precision because female sexual predators have been a politically incorrect topic and thus hidden
from public view. However, we do know that the few professionals who have worked in the area universally acknowledge massive
underreporting by the boy and girl victims of female sexual predators and, even when reports of female sexual molestation
emerge, they are met with disbelief by parents and police.
Critically, we now have sufficient preliminary research evidence and well documented case reports to know that we do have
a serious social problem which requires immediate public, Congressional, and Judicial attention. Consider first the research.
A 2004 U. S. Department of Education report titled “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature”
cites two large sample surveys in which students report that 43% of their molesters were female sexual predators while smaller
studies reported lower rates. A second summary of studies and media reports can be found on the web site of The Canadian Children’s
Rights Council (http://www.canadiancrc.com/female_sexual_predators_awarenes.htm). This second group estimates that 25% of
sexual predators are female but also cite studies where the female predator rates range from 1% to 82% with six studies reporting
female predator rates over 50%.
Taken together, these research studies substantiate the reality that we currently are experiencing an epidemic of female sexual
predators. These reported rates are high by any standard and require immediate attention and corrective action.
The most emotionally traumatic and moving evidence, however, comes not from statistical studies but from heart rending individual
case reports. The best of this evidence can be found in a groundbreaking documentary aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation
on October 6, 1997, titled “The Ultimate Taboo: Child Sexual abuse by women.” The transcript of this documentary
is available on the web site of The Canadian Children’s Rights Council which notes: “This was a vivid and horrific
programme in which the victims of sexual abuse by women told disturbing stories of emotional and physical damage.” (http://www.canadiancrc.com/articles/BBC_Child_sexual_abuse_by_women_06OCT97.htm).
As the evidence continues to mount -- the daily media reports, the BBC documentary, the empirical research studies -- it becomes
increasingly clear that the veiled epidemic of female sexual predators no longer can be hidden and must be brought to full
public light and serve as a call for social change. As a society we require a massive change in our social attitudes to begin
to address the fact that the people to whom we have most entrusted our children for centuries -- mothers, babysitters, nuns,
nannies, child care workers, and teachers – include female sexual predators.
In my view, it is long past time to face squarely the politically incorrect reality that female sexual predators do exist,
do prey, and do so in substantial numbers. It also provides an opportunity to create a paradigm shift wherein we reframe the
sexual abuse debate and acknowledge the existence of both male and female sexual predators.
Continuing to deny that female sexual predators exist, prey, and do so in substantial numbers not only continues to endanger
our children but also damages them -- physically, emotionally, and in their subsequent relationships with others.
Denial serves only the best interests of practicing female sexual predators.
Gordon E. Finley is Professor of Psychology at Florida International University in Miami.