Public Perceptions of Female Sex Offenders Through Media Word Usage and Media Outlet Comments

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A lack of research currently exists on the public perception of female sex offenders and the implications this societal view may have for the future of female sex offender research and understanding. This study aims to explore the public perception of female sex offenders by examining multiple different online news outlet sites. News articles from Reddit, Penn Live, CBC News, SF Gate The New York Post, The East Bay Times, Arkansas Online News, The Sun U.K., Mercury News, 13 WHO TV Channel 13 News, and Fox News were located by searching keywords in the Google search engine. Using a qualitative coding method, 932 comments were collected and analyzed for their theme or subject matter. Six themes were uncovered from comments: sexualization of the offender, victim shaming/blaming, insensitive humor, double standards, victim gender, and denunciation of the offender. The results of the study confirm the initial hypothesis that the public expresses misunderstandings about female sex offenders through a high volume of victim shame/blame comments.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
Psychology, Criminology, Gender Studies