How Many Kids Can One Man Abuse?

Police lifted a gag order Monday detailing the arrest of 33-year-old Avinoam Braverman, of Tel Aviv, alleged to have contacted some 1,000 minors, engaging some in virtual sex in front of web cams and of raping, sodomizing and molesting others, as well as possession and distribution of child pornography,

In a society which promotes loyal monogamy as being the ideal sexual relationship – one partner for each of us –  the popular assumption is that one pedophile will also approximate to one child victim. 

Very few of us are aware that research has consistently shown that (and this is staggering) around one in four girls and one in six boys has been sexually abused by the age of 18. (Russell, 1986; confirmed also Gorey & Leslie 1997; Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis & Smith 1989; Brier & Elliot, 2003).

And in the sole major survey amongst Jewish orthodox women (Yehuda et al, 2007), 26% of the women surveyed reported sexual abuse, with 16% reporting the abuse occurred by the age of thirteen. In other words, sexual abuse of females is consistent with the findings for the general population. (Some have suggested that the number of male victims may be higher in the orthodox community, because access is far less restricted in orthodox communities than for males on females – but there has been no scientific survey yet on this).

This startlingly high incidence of child abuse victims, in all populations, however does not mean that this proportion of adults (between one in four, to one in six) are pedophiles.

There have been various distinctions drawn (R.Weiss, 2009) on the characteristics of pedophiles, including these categories:

  1. Dedicated or Fixated Child Offender – adults who are usually solely sexually attracted to children.
  2. Situational or Regressed Child Offender – adults whose sexual attentions wander to children, often due to extraneous pressures.
  3. Sexually Addicted Offender – exhibiting similar compulsive traits to substance or gambling addictions, some adults have increased and obsessive needs for sexual stimulation, sometimes including relationships with children.

The majority (85%) of child sex offenders are in the second category; these offenders can often be successfully treated through therapy. Sexual addiction (category 3) is a quite common psychological condition affecting between 3-5 % of the general population; very few of these people resort to non-consensual sex; treatment for this addictive behavior has been often found successful.

The most damaging pedophiles, in terms of numbers of victims, are the dedicated or fixated child offenders; they will often achieve positions of access, trust and authority over children, such as becoming sports coaches, summer camp or youth group supervisors, babysitters, clerics or educators – specifically in order to gain unfettered access to their victims. Some will even marry a partner who already has children, for this same reason. The perpetrators develop sophisticated 'grooming' techniques (sometimes in collusion with other pedophiles) and in practice they know that only very few children will ever register formal complaints against these perpetrators (sometimes the children do not become consciously aware that they were even abused until they reach adulthood themselves), so the numbers of their victims over a pedophile's 'career' (which can continue through their senior years) can reach staggering proportions. There is little prospect of these pedophiles being 'cured' by available therapies, and recidivism (repeat offense) rates are high (around 75% of convicted child sex offenders).

A study by Abel et al32 of 377 nonincarcerated, non-incest-related pedophiles, whose legal situations had been resolved and who were surveyed using an anonymous self-report questionnaire, found that heterosexual pedophiles on average reported abusing 19.8 children and committing 23.2 acts, whereas homosexual pedophiles had abused 150.2 children and committed 281.7 acts.

Another study (Baker) concluded that men who chose girls, generally victimized relatively few while a man who preys on non-related boys "will victimize as many as 280 male victims".

These studies confirm law enforcement reports about the serial nature of the crime, the large number of children abused by each pedophile, and the underreporting of assaults.

What appears different from the 'classic' behavior patterns of pedophiles in the Braverman case is the alleged extensive use of the internet and messaging technologies, and his targeting of multiple young girls.

However, that Braverman was apparently able to readily reach so many actual and prospective victims, seemingly without multiple reports by either the child victims or their parents to the authorities – is deeply shocking, but unfortunately not unusual. 


  1. I hope that he had connections with other pedophiles and that the police can track them all and arrest them

  2. Thank you for this well-researched and important post. I'm sure the police are doing everything possible to catch these creeps and we should do whatever we can to support them. At the same time, however, it is important to remember that empowerment, like charity, begins at home. I very strongly recommend that individuals and communities seek out ways to empower their children. There is a way to teach children to identify the strategies used by criminals to gain access to them and give them a set of MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, VERBAL & PHYSICAL TOOLS to help them deal with complex and potentially harmful situations like these. That "way" is called 'KidPact', IMPACT for Kids. It is available only through ElHaLev-- a non-profit organization specializing in empowerment through the martial arts and self-defense.

    Keep on writing, David. This is a fabulous blog. I'm so glad I found it.

  3. Israel's police and social workers, particularly those in Misrad Revacha and Misrad Sherut Lemaan HaYeled are in positions to prevent further tragedies. Why aren't they 1. dedicating specific offices/staff to seeking out and arresting pedophiles? 2. Educating teachers, parents and employers in above-named professions? 3. Creating profiles for employers to use so they can ferret out pedophiles and prevent them from getting jobs that let them prey on defenseless children?

  4. Thank you. This was informative and tightly written.

  5. The Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation is a newly formed nonprofit with a mission to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are actively seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post a childhood photo and caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website By uniting survivors from across the globe we can help provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out. Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted. Please visit our site for more details on how you can send us your submissions.

    Thank you for everything you do!

    Gretchen Paules
    Administrative Director
    Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation
    111 Presidential Blvd., Suite 212
    Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

  6. While I am certain you have good intentions to save children from sex abuse, your discussion is misleading.
    First of all, one study (ONE!) is not proof of anything. Two, the study you cite which proves that Orthodox women are abused about 26% of the time is SERIOUSLY flawed research. You can read a full critique at:
    The main problems with this "research" are:
    -- the study is afflicted by a severe case of survey bias, as it is fair to assume that many or even MOST Orthodox women did not respond to advertisements asking them to answer questions about sex
    - the sample of women included 53% of those who self-identify as fervently Orthodox reporting that they attended graduate school (do more than HALF of Orthodox women you know attend graduate school?)
    -the AJP article does not include the questionnaire, nor is it available online (pretty suspicious, what are they hiding?)
    -A bit more than half of the abuse reported in the AJP article involved improper physical behavior that did not include genital contact. In fact, in the authors’ words, “many researchers have historically defined sexual abuse as genital contact.” The authors admitted that to an Orthodox woman, a man putting a hand on her shoulder might be seen as sex abuse – and while that is unwelcome, and maybe sexual harassment, we shouldn’t equate that with RAPE! Quote from the authors of the study: “the threshold at which someone may feel the victim of sexual abuse may be lower for those living in a more restrictive religious community"
    - 36% of the respondents were not raised Orthodox, becoming observant later in life (this is clearly NOT representative of Orthodox Jewish women – a third of them are NOT BTs)
    - Most damning of all, of the 96 women who reported abuse, MORE THAN HALF, or 49 were not raised Orthodox. The title of the article refers to “past sexual abuse among married Orthodox women,” the suggestion being that the abuse was experienced by persons who were observant at the time that it occurred. This is how the data were reported in this newspaper and how they will continue to be reported. But all that abuse they reported before age 26, before age 13 – well, half of those abused were not in Orthodox homes or schools, so who abused them? Most likely, not Orthodox people.

    So this seriously flawed study tells us NOTHING, except that we do NOT really know if Orthodox Jews are abused in greater, smaller, or equal numbers compared to everyone else. Frankly, I don’t care if Orthodox people are abused at exactly the same rates, every case is one too many and I applaud your blog for fighting this evil in our midst. But please do it using facts, not scary “research” which is shoddy and absurd.

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    Many thanks for drawing our attention to Marvin Schick's critique of the Yehudah survey of orthodox women. I find Marvin's article a reasonable and reasoned crtiticism of the original survey.

    In a field where there is only one scientifically-based survey, that survey is bound to attract criticism as being lopsided. Particularly when the topic is as loaded as sex-abuse of female minors in the Jewish community.

    Marvin Schick does not propose any better method for objectively surveying the extent and nature of that problem.

    I am not a statistician, nor do I have any experience or expertise with population & behaviour surveys.

    I surmise that, for a clearer picture, More is Better. More surveys, more respondents, more questions, short - More Data.

    Whereas basing too much policy on the results of just one survey would be perilous - so ignoring the results we do have would be no less risky.

    The best of all, would be for more surveys to be undertaken, by more researchers, to a broader and more representative population base.

    Clearly, such surveys require money, expertise and a willingness to deal with highly sensitive personal and community issues.

    I understand that at least one more scientifically-based survey about child abuse in the Jewish community has indeed been done, and this should be published - hopefully soon.

    More data about the extent and nature of child abuse in our community will certainly be helpful for all involved in defining and implementing more effective community policies - and in better protecting our children.


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