Empathy for Children Scale

Empathy for Children Scale‌

GERARD A. SCHAEFER,Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Charité— Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie und Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany STEVEN FEELGOODClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technical University, Dresden, Germany

Empathy can be defined as one individual’s reactions to the observed experiences of another (Davis, 1983). A four- stage model of empathy by Marshall, Hudson, Jones, and Fernandez (1995) includes emotion recognition, perspective taking, emotional response, and appropriate action. Several measures have been developed to assess general empathy, such as the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI; Davis,1983), Hogan’s Empathy Scale (Hogan, 1969), or the Emotional Empathy Scale (Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972).

Sexual offenders typically display a lack of empathy for their victims (Marshall, 1997). Child sexual abuse offend- ers’ empathy deficits are greatest for their own victims compared to nonsexual offenders (Marshall, Hamilton, & Fernandez, 2001). Contact sexual offenders score lower than child pornography offenders in victim empathy (Bates & Metcalf, 2007; Elliott, Beech, Mandeville-Norden, & Hayes, 2009).

The Empathy for Children Scale (ECS) was developed to measure an individual’s cognitive and emotional empathy for child victims. Three scenarios are used, assessing empathy with respect to an “accident victim,” a “stranger child sexual abuse victim,” and “(fantasized) own child sexual abuse victim.” The ECS can be used as a research tool in examining respective empathy deficits of various subsamples. It can also serve as a clinical tool for therapists in treatment planning and treatment outcome assessment.

Description

The ECS is based on the Child Molester Empathy Measure (CMEM; Fernandez & Marshall, 2003; Fernandez, Marshall, Lightbody, & O’Sullivan, 1999), in that it uses the same three scenarios to assess empathy for child victims using two subscales (cognitive and emotional empathy) for each scenario. However, as the ECS was specifically developed for administration with pedophilic nonoffenders, the original “own child sexual abuse victim” scenario was modified to offer a fantasized own victim. Changes to the scenarios also improved the comparability of the scenarios. Furthermore, the ECS assesses data regarding

age and gender of (fantasized) own victim and imagined general sexual abuse victim. With 75 items rated on 5- point Likert-type scales, the ECS is less complex to rate for the respondents, as well as more economic to administer (the CMEM has 150 items and uses 11-point Likert-type scales). Higher scores indicate more empathy. Owing to its design, it may be used in both forensic and nonforensic settings. Therefore, its use is not limited to individuals with known victims, such as convicted sexual offenders. The instrument is available in English, French, and German (Feelgood & Schaefer, 2005).

Response Mode and Timing

For each item, respondents are to circle the number (0–4; 0 = Not at all; 4 = Very Much) that best describes how, in their opinion, the child might feel (cognitive empathy) and how they feel when imagining what the child experienced (emotional empathy). It typically takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete the instrument.

Scoring

The items for each subscale are added to form total scores. Items 4 and 7 are reverse scored for cognitive empathy, and Items 1, 8, and 9 are reverse scored for emotional empathy. It is possible to have an overall empathy score for each scenario by simply adding the total scores for cognitive and emotional empathy for the respective scenarios.

Reliability

One hundred and fifty men (83 reporting sexual contacts with children, 67 “potential” perpetrators) who volunteered for a treatment program for individuals with a sexual interest in minors, the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD), completed the ECS as part of an assessment bat- tery (Beier, Ahlers et al., 2009; Beier, Neutze et al., 2009). Cognitive distortion and social desirability were controlled using the Bumby MOLEST Scale (BMS; Bumby, 1996) and the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR- 20; Paulhus, 1991; German version: Musch, Brockhaus,

1Address correspondence to Gerard A. Schaefer, Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, University Clinic Charité Campus Mitte, Freie und Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin, Luisenstraße 57, D-10117 Berlin-Mitte, Germany; e-mail: [email protected]

& Bröder, 2002). Significant correlations with the BMS- cognitive distortion scale were found (−.42 to −.50) and only one small correlation with social desirability (−.19 for accident victim). Internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .96) supports the structure of the scale (Schaefer & Feelgood, 2006).

Validity

Comparing child sexual abuse offenders diagnosed with pedophilia, no differences were found between undetected and detected offenders concerning emotional empathy regarding their own victims (Schaefer, Neutze, Mundt, & Beier, 2008). Similar profiles to those found in samples of detected offenders (Marshall et al., 2001) were identified in a sample of PPD offenders (i.e., undetected child sexual abuse offenders). They displayed less empathy for their own victim than for other victims of child sexual abuse and the greatest empathy for a child car accident victim (Schaefer & Feelgood, 2006). Differences between these groups support discriminant validity. The lack of social desirability responding relative to the ECS supports diver- gent validity.

Other Information

When using the instrument to assess empathy deficits within a population of known (e.g., convicted) offenders, the text passages in italicized uppercase letters must be deleted.

Steven Feelgood is also affiliated with the Social Therapy Unit, Brandenburg an der Havel Prison, Brandenburg, Germany.

Copies of the instrument and information regarding revi- sions of any part of the instrument may be requested by e-mail to the first author.


Empathy for Children Scale

Instructions: In the following you will find three short stories. You will be asked to indicate at first how you believe the child in the story feels, and afterwards how you feel when thinking about the child.

Story 1:

Imagine a child that was badly injured in road traffic and had to spend some time in hospital. The child is now out of hospital and will live with a permanent disability.

In your opinionhow may the child feel or have felt, what may it experience or have experienced while in hospital and afterwards? For each of the following descriptions, please circle the number that best indicates the child’s experience.

The child . . . . Not at all Very Much

1. feels guilty.

0

1

2

3

4

2. feels sad.

0

1

2

3

4

3. feels angry.

0

1

2

3

4

4. is self-confident.

0

1

2

3

4

5. has nightmares.

0

1

2

3

4

6. has suicidal thoughts.

0

1

2

3

4

7. is successful in school.

0

1

2

3

4

8. has sleep disturbances.

0

1

2

3

4

9. feels lonely.

0

1

2

3

4

10. is withdrawn from others.

0

1

2

3

4

11. has psychological problems.

0

1

2

3

4

12. feels helpless.

0

1

2

3

4

13. is suffering.

0

1

2

3

4

14. is tense.

0

1

2

3

4

15. feels ashamed.

0

1

2

3

4

Now please circle the number that best indicates how you feel when imagining what the child experienced.

I feel . . . / I am . . . Not at all Very Much

1. cheerful.

0

1

2

3

4

2. furious.

0

1

2

3

4

3. disturbed.

0

1

2

3

4

4. distraught.

0

1

2

3

4

5. devastated.

0

1

2

3

4

6. helpless.

0

1

2

3

4

7. upset.

0

1

2

3

4

8. good.

0

1

2

3

4

9. stimulated.

0

1

2

3

4

10. shocked.

0

1

2

3

4

How old was the child you imagined? Ca.    years Of what gender was the child you imagined?

female

male

Story 2:

Now imagine a child that had sex with an adult male. (THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILD AS WELL AS THE NATURE AND FREQUENCY OF SEXUAL CONTACT MATCH YOUR OWN SEXUAL EXPERIENCE WITH CHILDREN. IF YOU HAVE NOT HAD ANY SEXUAL EXPERIENCE WITH CHILDREN, THEN IMAGINE THE

STORY MATCHED YOUR USUAL SEXUAL FANTASIES OF CHILDREN.) In your opinion, how may the child feel or have felt, what may it experience or have experienced while this sexual contact was occurring and afterwards?

For each of the following descriptions, please circle the number that best indicates the child’s experience.

The child . . .

Not at all

Very Much

1. feels guilty.

0

1

2

3

4

2. feels sad.

0

1

2

3

4

3. feels angry.

0

1

2

3

4

4. is self-confident.

0

1

2

3

4

5. has nightmares.

0

1

2

3

4

6. has suicidal thoughts.

0

1

2

3

4

7. is successful in school.

0

1

2

3

4

8. has sleep disturbances.

0

1

2

3

4

9. feels lonely.

0

1

2

3

4

10. is withdrawn from others.

0

1

2

3

4

11. has psychological problems.

0

1

2

3

4

12. feels helpless.

0

1

2

3

4

13. is suffering.

0

1

2

3

4

14. is tense.

0

1

2

3

4

15. feels ashamed.

0

1

2

3

4

Now please circle the number that best indicates how you feel when imagining what the child experienced.

I feel . . . / I am . . .

Not at all

Very Much

1. cheerful.

0

1

2

3

4

2. furious.

0

1

2

3

4

3. disturbed.

0

1

2

3

4

4. distraught.

0

1

2

3

4

5. devastated.

0

1

2

3

4

6. helpless.

0

1

2

3

4

7. upset.

0

1

2

3

4

8. good.

0

1

2

3

4

9. stimulated.

0

1

2

3

4

10. shocked.

0

1

2

3

4

How old was the child you imagined? Ca.    years Of what gender was the child you imagined?

female

male

Story 3:

Now think of a child with whom you have had sexual contact. (IF YOU HAVE NOT HAD ANY SEXUAL CONTACT WITH CHILDREN, PLEASE IMAGINE A CHILD YOU HAD OR HAVE SEX WITH IN YOUR FANTASIES.) In your opinionhow may the child feel or have felt, what may it experience or have experienced while this sexual contact was occurring and afterwards?

For each of the following descriptions, please circle the number that best indicates the child’s experience.

IF YOU HAVE NOT HAD ANY SEXUAL CONTACT WITH CHILDREN PLEASE TICK THE BOX TO THE RIGHT. 

The child . . . Not at all Very Much

1. feels guilty.

0

1

2

3

4

2. feels sad.

0

1

2

3

4

3. feels angry.

0

1

2

3

4

4. is self-confident.

0

1

2

3

4

5. has nightmares.

0

1

2

3

4

6. has suicidal thoughts.

0

1

2

3

4

7. is successful in school.

0

1

2

3

4

8. has sleep disturbances.

0

1

2

3

4

9. feels lonely.

0

1

2

3

4

10. is withdrawn from others.

0

1

2

3

4

11. has psychological problems.

0

1

2

3

4

12. feels helpless.

0

1

2

3

4

13. is suffering.

0

1

2

3

4

14. is tense.

0

1

2

3

4

15. feels ashamed.

0

1

2

3

4

Now please circle the number that best indicates how you feel when imagining what the child experienced.

IF YOU HAVE NOT HAD ANY SEXUAL CONTACT WITH CHILDREN PLEASE TICK THE BOX TO THE RIGHT. 

I feel . . . / I am . . . Not at all Very Much

1. cheerful.

0

1

2

3

4

2. furious.

0

1

2

3

4

3. disturbed.

0

1

2

3

4

4. distraught.

0

1

2

3

4

5. devastated.

0

1

2

3

4

6. helpless.

0

1

2

3

4

7. upset.

0

1

2

3

4

8. good.

0

1

2

3

4

9. stimulated.

0

1

2

3

4

10. shocked.

0

1

2

3

4

How old was the child you imagined? Ca.    years Of what gender was the child you imagined?

female

male


References

Bates, A., & Metcalf, C. (2007). A psychometric comparison of Internet and non-Internet sex offenders from a community treatment sample. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 13, 11–20.

Beier, K. M., Ahlers, C. J., Goecker, D., Neutze, J., Mundt, I. A., Hupp, E., et al. (2009). Can pedophiles be reached for primary prevention of child sexual abuse? First results of the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Forensic Psychology20, 851–867.

Beier, K. M., Neutze, J., Mundt, I. A., Ahlers, C. J., Goecker, D., Konrad, A., et al. (2009). Encouraging self-identified pedophiles and hebephiles to seek professional help: First results of the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). Child Abuse and Neglect, 33, 545–549.

Bumby, K. M. (1996). Assessing the cognitive distortions of child molest- ers and rapists: Development and validation of the MOLEST and RAPE scales. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment, 8, 37–54.

Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113–126.

Elliott, I. A., Beech, A. R., Mandeville-Norden, R., & Hayes, E. (2009). Psychological profiles of Internet sexual offenders: Comparisons with contact sexual offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 21, 76–92.

Feelgood, S., & Schaefer, G. A. (2005). German version of the Empathy for Children Scale (ECS). Unpublished manuscript.

Fernandez, Y. M., & Marshall, W. L. (2003). Victim empathy, social self-esteem and psychopathy in rapists. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 15, 11–26.

Fernandez, Y. M., Marshall, W. L., Lightbody, S., & O’Sullivan, C. (1999). The Child Molester Empathy Measure. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 11, 17–31.

Hogan, R. (1969). Development of an empathy scale. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33, 307–316.

Marshall, W. L. (1997). The relationship between self-esteem and deviant sexual arousal in non-familial child molesters. Behavior Modification, 21, 86–96.

Marshall, W. L., Hamilton, K., & Fernandez, Y. (2001). Empathy deficits and cognitive distortions in child molesters. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 13, 123–130.

Marshall, W. L., Hudson , S. M., Jones, R., & Fernandez, Y. M. (1995). Empathy in sex offenders. Clinical Psychological Review, 15, 99–113.

Mehrabian, A., & Epstein, N. (1972). A measure of emotional empathy.Journal of Personality, 40, 525–543.

Musch, J., Brockhaus, R., & Bröder, A. (2002). Ein Inventar zur Erfassung von zwei Faktoren sozialer Erwünschtheit [An inventory for the assessment of two factors of social desirability]. Diagnostica, 48(3), 121–129.

Paulhus, D. L. (1991). Measurement and control of response bias. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of per- sonality and social psychological attitudes (pp. 17–41). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Schaefer, G. A., & Feelgood, S. (2006, September). Validation of a new scale for measuring victim empathy in pedophiles: The Empathy for Children Scale (ECS). Paper presented at the 9th International Conference of the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO), Hamburg, Germany.

Schaefer, G. A., Neutze, J., Mundt, I. A., & Beier, K. M. (2008, October). Pedophiles and hebephiles in the community: Findings from the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). Paper presented at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Atlanta, GA.