Many predatory abusers premeditate abuse, fantasize about sexual interaction with children, often view pornography or child pornography, select their victims carefully, and invest effort and time to groom them into submission. They prefer children, not necessarily because of sexual attraction but because of their vulnerability and ability to manipulate.
Opportunistic offenders acknowledge an opportunity that presents them with the chance to abuse a child – this may be true especially in cases involving immediate or extended family members or children that are well-known to them.
Predatory offenders seek out opportunities to abuse – ex. teaching, coaching, even romantic relationships with women who have children, while others may choose these professions/relationships and later find themselves temped by their situation – being in a position of trust and/or authority involving children.
Opportunistic offenders may still invest time/effort to groom & molest a child, or they may use physical force to subdue the child. Likewise, predatory offenders do not always groom their victims and may also act impulsively.
From Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Evidence, Policy and Practice, by Stephen Smallbone, William L. Marshall, Richard Wortley:
“Opportunistic offenders will tend not to actively create opportunities to abuse children, particularly if doing so would require any sustained effort. In simple terms, where the committed offender is the opportunity-maker, the opportunistic offender is the opportunity-taker. They engage in CSA not because of stable predispositions but because they are quick to recognise the opportunities as they fortuitously present themselves. Because they have neither a strong capacity for self-restrain nor a strong stake in conformity, they succumb easily to temptations and perceived provocations. Opportunistic CSA offenders are likely to abuse children in families, perhaps as a step-parent, or may offend after becoming involved with a vulnerable and (in their estimation) attractive child outside of their family.”
Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect.