Homosexual Child Molestations By Foster Parents: Illinois, 1997-2002
Abstract: Do those who engage in homosexuality disproportionately
sexually abuse foster or adoptive children as reported by child
protective services? Illinois child services reported sexual abuse for
1997 through 2002. 270 parents committed “substantiated” sexual
offenses against foster or subsidized adoptive children: 67 (69%) of 97
mother and 148 (86%) of 173 father perpetrators sexually abused girls;
30 (31%) mother and 25 (14%) of father perpetrators sexually abused
boys (i.e., 92 [34%] of the perpetrators homosexually abused their
charges). 15 of these parents both physically and sexually abused
charges: daughters by 8 mothers and 4 fathers, sons by 3 mothers (i.e.,
same-sex perpetrators were involved in 53%). Thus, homosexual
practitioners were proportionately more apt to sexually abuse foster or
In a general population random sample of 3,714 adults from five
metropolitan areas, Cameron, Proctor, Coburn, Larson, Forde, &
Cameron (1986) listed 6 (0.2%) reported “serious sexual advances” (p.,
329) against them by a foster parent [3 homosexual against girls; 3
heterosexual: 1 against a boy, 2 against girls] – that is, 6 (0.59%) of
1,021 “serious sexual advances” reported by various caretakers. One
woman also reported that his advance led to “sexual contact” with a
male foster parent – that is, 0.27% of 369 “sexual contacts” reported
with various caretakers/relatives. Of these 6 sexual interactions, all
of which would presumably have been actionable, 3 were homosexual. On
their face, t hese results seem to validate traditional concerns about
sexual recruitment of children by homosexuals (Levitt & Klassen,
1974). In 1987, the National Association of Social Workers [NASW]
ignored this finding and without proffering any evidence to the
contrary, passed a resolution decrying “resistance to using single
parents, ...including lesbian and gay parents, as potential foster care
and adoption resources.”
In what appears to be the second empirical study bearing on the issue,
14 years of news stories about foster parent molestation of charges in
the 50 largest circulation newspapers in the English-speaking world was
reviewed (Cameron, 2003). 12 (57%) of the 21 male and 3 of the 4 female
perpetrators (e.g., 15 [60%] of the 25 perpetrators) in these stories
homosexually molested their charges.
Two studies – one from a sample of victims, the other from a sample of
stories about victims and perpetrators -- indicated that perhaps half
of foster parent molestations were upon members of the same sex. Would
about the same fraction of homosexual molestations obtain if the data
was collected and reported by child protective services?
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act Request, the Illinois
Department of Children & Family Services provided a complete list
of “substantiated physical or sexual abuse” by perpetrator's sex as
well as the sex of victim(s) for 1997 through 2002. Marital status of
parent perpetrators is not recorded in Illinois and number of children
abused per perpetrator or whether multiple perpetrators violated the
same child was not available. Behavior is potentially observable, thus
‘objective' unlike an individual's feelings or subject to dispute as a
psychiatrist's diagnosis. As Ross, Essien, Williams, &
Fenandez-Esquer (2003) noted “sexual behavior is not always adequately
represented by self-labeling of sexual identity” (p. 113), and because
of this most recent population surveys have indexed behavior rather
than reported ‘identity' (e.g., Spira, Bajos & the ACSF group,
1994; Wellings, Field, Johnson, Wadsworth, 1994; Anderson, Wilson,
Barker, Doll, Jones, & Holtgrave, 1999). Since the meaning of a
homosexual is “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” (1992
New Illustrated Webster's Dictionary ), and in the 1996 Centers for
Disease Control [CDC] national sexuality survey ‘homosexual' was
defined as someone who had sex with their sex irrespective of age of
partner (Anderson, et al., 1999), it seemed sensible to use “
homosexual” behaviorally and descriptively – referring to those who
have sex with their sex -- irrespective of age of partner.
Considering those who sexually interact with the underage as
‘pedophiles' is not particularly useful. Bell & Weinberg (1978)
asked 671 homosexual men and 288 homosexual women from a quasi-random
sample in San Francisco about the proportions of their homosexual
partners who “were 16 or younger when you were 21 or older” (p. 311).
Of the men, 77% said “none,” 23% said “half or less,” and none said
“more than half;” of the women, 94% said “none,” 3.8% said “half or
less,” and none said “more than half.” While, 156 (23%) of the men and
11 (4%) of the women admitted to having had some sex with children,
none was a “pedophile” in the sense of only having had sex with or
could only have sex with children.
There were 963 offenders whose kind of abuse and sex of victim(s) were
known (2 mothers physically abused children of unspecified sex, an
offender of unknown sex abused child[ren] of unknown sex in an
unspecified way). Substantiated sexual abuse was reported for 270
parents: 67 (69%) of 97 mothers and 148 (86%) of 173 fathers sexually
abused girls; 30 mothers and 25 fathers sexually abused boys (i.e., 92
[34%] homosexually abused their charges). Substantiated physical abuse
was found for 708 parents: 268 (49%) of 544 mothers and 68 (41%) of 164
fathers physically abused daughters; 276 mothers and 96 fathers
physically abused sons (i.e., 52%of perpetrators abused boys). 15
parents both physically and sexually abused charges: daughters by 8
mothers and 4 fathers, and sons by 3 mothers (i.e., when both forms of
abuse were substantiated, same-sex perpetrators were involved in 53%).
On average, yearly there were 60,093 children in 4,300 foster- or
adoption-subsidized homes in Illinois. For the 6-year period, 966
parents engaged in “substantiated” abuse after an investigation was
conducted. Assuming one perpetrator per home, per year, children were
sexually abused in about 1% (45/4,300) and physically abused in about
3% (118/4,300). Physical abuse occurred in 6% of the homes where sexual
abuse occurred, sexual abuse occurred in 2% of homes where physical
Illinois is the sixth largest state with about 12 million inhabitants
and is slightly more urban than the U.S. as a whole. The Illinois
rates, which do not include neglect, appear similar to the national
average of 6.1% for “child abuse and neglect” reported by the U.S.
Health and Human Services (Branigin, 2003).
Estimates of the proportion of adults who have engaged in homosexual
sex in the past 12 months vary. The 1996 National Household Survey of
Drug Abuse/CDC study (www.icpsr.umich.edu/samhda) estimated that 1.2%
of those aged 18 to 59 reported sex with a member of their sex [no age
specified] in the past 12 months, other estimates put the number at
around 2-3% (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994).
Ottawa, Canada was among the first jurisdictions to aggressively
recruit homosexual foster parents. As of October 24, 2002, 9 of 278
Ottawa's approved foster homes included known homosexuals, and two of
these homes had not yet been given a foster-child (Brooks, 2002), i.e.,
less than 3% of Ottawa's placements were homosexual. Thus, those who
engage in sex with their own sex appear to be employed as foster- and
adoptive-parents in proportions at or below their presence in the
The proportion of molestations of foster children that were homosexual
in the general population survey by Cameron, et al . (1986) was 50%,
while the proportion of molestations of foster children that were
homosexual in 14 years of newspaper stories about foster parent
molestations was 60% (Cameron, 2003). The Illinois material collected
and reported by that state's child protective services -- 34%
homosexual -- was lower than either of the two published estimates. The
prior 2 estimates were based upon small numbers of data points – 6 in
Cameron, et al ., 1986 and 25 in Cameron, 2003. It is therefore
tempting to believe that the 270 data points reported from Illinois
results in an estimate closer to the ‘real, underlying proportion' –
but further studies will be required to be more certain as to which
estimate is closest. Nonetheless, the disproportionality of the
homosexual footprint was evident in each dataset. These three methods,
though differing in their estimates of homosexual molestation, tend to
cross-validate each other. As such, support for abandoning the
tradition of excluding homosexuals as foster parents as recommended by
the NASW was not found.
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Branigin, W. (2003) Officials assess county child welfare system. Washington Post , 7/10/03, p. TO3.
Brooks, M. (2002) CAS seeks gay foster parents: Move reflects changing
face of Canadian family. Ottawa Citizen , 10/24/02, p. Al.
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Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., Michaels, S. (1994) The
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Note: IllinoisLeader.com filed the freedom of information act (FOIA) request.