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(Redirected from Paedophile)

Pedophilia (US) or paedophilia / pædophilia (UK), from the Greek παιδοφιλια < παις "boy, child" and φιλια "friendship", ( ICD-10 F65.4) is the primary sexual attraction toward prepubescent children. It is a chronophilia, i.e. a paraphilia in which the paraphile's sexuoerotic age is discordant with his or her actual chronological age and is concordant with the age of the partner. Pedosexuality is used as a synonym.



The term "Paedophilia erotica" was coined in 1896 by the Vienna psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his writing Psychopathia sexualis. The following characteristics are given:

  • the sexual interest is toward children, either prepubescent or at the beginning of puberty
  • the sexual interest is the primary one, i. e. exclusively or mainly toward children
  • the sexual interest remains over time

Occasionally definitions additionally require an age difference of at least five years. On the other hand, a pedophilic sexual orientation often develops during puberty or childhood. (See causes of sexual orientation)

A person is not a pedophile if he can be sexually aroused by children, but his primary sexual attraction is not towards them. There is evidence that at least a quarter of all adult men may have feelings of sexual arousal in connection with children (Freund & Costell 1970, Hall et al. 1995, Quinsey et al. 1975).

Note that pedophilia can be diagnosed solely in the presence of fantasies or sexual urges on the subject's part — it need not involve sexual acts with children. Pedophilia is not a legal category or term, and although the acts pedophiles desire to carry out are criminal in most jurisdictions, they are not legally referred to as pedophilia.

The term "pedophilia" has a variety of nonscientific meanings:

  1. Those who use the term commonly assume that a perpetrator committing child sexual abuse is a pedophile, but there can be other motivations; in fact, most perpetrators are not pedophiles primarily interested in children.
  2. The term is used not only for affection toward children, but also adolescents.

The persons in the first case are sometimes referred to as pseudo-pedophilies or situational offenders, whereas pedophiles primarily affected toward children are called structured pedophiles, as their orientation is fixed by the structure of their personality.

In the second case, the term ephebophilia should be used if the attraction to adolescents is exclusive. It is defined as the primary attraction toward adolescents, whereas pederasty is only attraction toward male adolescents. (It must also be taken into account that unlike pedophilia, attraction to adolescents may not be regarded as pathological by some.)

Some researchers have suggested a distinction between pedophilia and infantophilia (also called nepiophilia), because interest in a 10-year old and a 2-year old seem rather different preferences. At the same time it is unusual for pedophiles to prefer toddlers.

Pedophiles often refer to themselves as boylovers or girllovers, though most of them are not both. Bisexual childlovers are attracted to both boys and girls.

Clinical definition of pedophilia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Text Revision, American Psychiatric Association includes a Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia:

  • A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).
  • B. The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
  • C. The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A.
Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.

Underage sex

Sexual acts between adults and children are both a taboo and a crime in almost all cultures because, among other reasons:

  1. children are usually not able to understand the physical, emotional, and social consequences of sexual acts and are therefore unable to give informed consent;
  2. underage sexual acts often involve coercion and abuse of power, which can break bonds of trust between adults and children; and
  3. sexual acts can, for children at puberty, lead to pregnancy, a condition for which they are not well prepared.

Most pedophiles avoid sexual contact with children, probably because of statutory consequences. International studies indicate a recidivism rate for pedophiles of 40-50 percent, as opposed to only 22 percent for all sexual offenders (Egg 2001). The probability is much higher for those attracted to boys, as compared to those attracted to girls.

The percentage of pedophile perpetrators in cases of child sexual abuse is estimated to be 2 to 10 percent (Kinsey-Report, Lautmann, Brongersma, Groth). Abuse is mainly a phenomenon of heterosexual and homosexual orientation. Statistics from the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics ( "5 percent of sex offenders rearrested for another sex crime within 3 years of prison release") indicate that while sex offenders in general reoffend 5.3 percent of the time, child molesters reoffend only 3.3 percent of the time (though the latter statistic only counts child sexual abuse as opposed to all sex crimes).

The terms hebephilia and ephebophilia are sometimes used to describe attraction to youths or adolescents, as distinct from attraction to children, since a high age of consent may also forbid sex with adolescents. Sexual desires including youths are quite common among people with a heterosexual and homosexual orientation, though their attraction is not specifically to persons that young. Only when that is the case it can be reasonably labeled ephebophilia as a sexual orientation.

Most cases of father-daughter incest are believed to involve fathers who are situational offenders, rather than pedophiles. Some have argued that these cases are triggered by the withdrawal of the mother from the family, often due to physical or mental illness.

Advocacy of pedophilia

There are a number of organisations who are working to remove the stigma from pedophilia and legalize adult sexual relationships with children and teenagers.

See also


  • Pedophilia Fagan PJ, Wise TN, et al, JAMA. 2002; 288: 2458-2465 Full text (requires registration).
  • Archives of sexual behavior vol. 31 no. 6 December 2002, Is pedophilia a mental disorder?, summary - Discussion among scientists about whether pedophilia really is a disorder, and a discussion of the moral aspects of child sexual abuse.

External links

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45