When we read about pedophiles and learn that few of them can ever change, we despair because almost all sexual abusers were abused as children themselves. It seems like there’s a continuous, unending cycle of abuse being passed on. Now a new study finds that most men who were sexually abused as boys do not go on to abuse children themselves. Researchers at the Institute of Child Health in London say that only one in eight abusers continues the cycle.

David Skuse and his team studied 224 men who had been sexually abused as children and found that only 26 of them went on to commit sexual offences. In almost all cases, the abuse involved children outside their family, and the average age at which they began to abuse others was 14.

Children who had little supervision, were neglected and had been abused by a female were three times more likely to become abusers later in life. Children who went on to commit abuse were also more likely to have experienced serious violence in their families. Also, one in three of them had been cruel to animals when children. Torturing animals is one part of the “unholy trinity” that identifies potential psychopaths?the other two parts are setting fires and wetting the bed. Almost all psychopaths were abused as children.

Researcher Paul Bouvier says, “How did these individuals manage to get out of the circle of repetition of the abuse, to avoid other risks, and to develop a meaningful life in spite of their terrible history? There is much to be learned from resilient individuals.”

Perhaps we would be less cruel to others if we realized we are all part of the same living energy.

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