Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-17-2021


The aim of this study was to help men convicted of child sexual offenses learn to recognize and engage their character strengths over 12 months. Participants were six men convicted of contact and noncontact (internet) child sexual offenses. All participants were members of a community-based reintegration group for registered citizens. In the first weeks of the study, participants received the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths survey. The survey, containing 240 questions—10 items for each of the 24 character strengths outlined—helped participants identify their top character strengths. The study explored (a) how the men could use their character strengths to address their unique needs and barriers to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and (b) how the daily use of their top five strengths informed their attitudes toward themselves and their sexual offending behavior. To accomplish this, several methods of data collection were used, including in-depth, semistructured interviews, art (mask-making), journal writing, observations, and audio recordings. The data underwent thematic analysis to determine participants’ perceptions and experiences. Factors leading to unhealthy lifestyles, barriers to healthy living, ways to overcome barriers, and effects of the strengths approach are discussed. Although further research is needed, results indicate that by identifying and using their character strengths, participants demonstrated improvement in self-awareness and accountability. An emerging model, the Hope-based strengths approach, illustrates how this character strengths approach can help men convicted of child sexual offenses address the needs and barriers related to their offense behavior and facilitate personal accountability for themselves and their crimes.


child sexual abuse, treatment, hope theory, character strengths, positive psychology, self-esteem

Document Type




Degree Name

Family Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ziarat Hossain

Second Committee Member

Ryan Kelly

Third Committee Member

Bruce Smith

Fourth Committee Member

Elizabeth Noll