While it is true that most sex crimes are committed by males, females are not exempt from such behaviors. Violent rape of adults by women probably is rare, but there are accounts of such incidents. The rate of inmate on inmate sexual violence among women is unknown, as such acts are under-reported even more so than are crimes in general. What is known is women do molest adolescent boys and girls, and some molest toddlers and infants.
The actual numbers aren’t known. Federal statistics report perhaps 5% of all such crimes are committed by females, but there may be serious under-reporting, even more so than is true for all sex crimes. Some experts estimate that as many as 25% of such offenses are committed by females.
We read in the news of accounts of female teachers, coaches and the like being arrested for sexual involvement with adolescents. These crimes may be seriously under-reported. Many boys don’t see themselves as victims-- they brag to their friends “they got lucky.”
Adolescence is a time of sexual curiosity and exploration, for girls just as much as boys. Juvenile females are responsible for 7% of arrests for sexual offenses, often involving children who are a few years younger.
The public reaction to these accounts varies widely. Sex offenders are seen as pariahs with no prospect for redemption. This includes women who molest. I recently did a web search for “female sex offenders” and found the following two blogs listed one after the other. One: “What’s wrong about that? I don’t think it should be a crime to have sex with a boy if he’s at least 12: Two: “They all should be executed. I’d personally punch her in the face.”
What drives females to commit these acts seems different than for males. The notion that women are drawn to relationships for love and companionship, and men are there because they’re horny is only partly tongue in cheek. There is some validity to that observation. Women who offend sexually often are seeking emotional solace and bonding, while many men are seeking sexual gratification. Most females who offend sexually show symptoms of mental illnesses including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. Many have been abused in various ways themselves, including sexual abuse by multiple offenders.
Many females commit these offenses in consort with someone who encourages their behavior and sometimes (but not always) participates alongside. Many of these females have a strong need to be with a male who is controlling and they often have children at an early age. These features suggest they have powerful emotional needs that they try to meet at any cost. This can lead them to engage in unhealthy, inappropriate and even criminal acts as part of meeting their emotional needs.
Fortunately, many of the underlying mental and emotional problems that contributed to their offenses are treatable. Psychotherapy, medication, and clear structure and behavioral limits are beneficial. On the downside, many such persons have borderline features to their personality. Borderline personality often involves unstable relationships, emotional volatility, and distorted self perceptions (often overly negative). Treatment of such persons is lengthy and gradual, and many insurers do not provide sufficient authorization to cover the needed treatment.