As noted throughout this textbook, many myths exist regarding sex offenders and sex crimes. For the categories of sex offenders in this chapter, this is likely the result of the unusualness and rarity of the crimes, which often leads media to highlight such unusual cases—giving the impression these categories of offenders occur with much more regularity than they do in comparison to the overall rate of sex crimes.
Research findings are rather consistent, identifying that approximately less than 10% of sex offenders are female.
Furthermore, another myth that exists regarding women who do sexually offend is that they are likely to be teachers. Many news articles and stories have highlighted cases similar to Mary Kay Letourneau. This, however, is only one category of female sex offenders. Others include those who sexually abuse in the context of an abusive relationship. Examples include a boyfriend or husband who forces or coerces the woman to sexually molest a child. Moreover, other women may force another person (child, teenager, or even adult) into prostitution. There are rare reports of a woman raping a woman or man under force or threat of force. Thus, female sex offenders engage in a wide range of behaviors. Research also indicates that women, similar to men (see Chapter 7), have low rates of sexual recidivism, perhaps slightly lower than men's rates of recidivism.