Pedophilia or paedophilia (Commonwealth usage) is the primary or exclusive sexual attraction of adults to prepubescent children. A person with this attraction is called a pedophile or paedophile. The ICD-10 and DSM IV, which are standard medical diagnosis manuals, describe pedophilia as a paraphilia and mental disorder of adults or older adolescents, in which a person has acted on sexual urges towards children, or has sexual urges towards and fantasies about children which cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

Research into the etiology of pedophilia has been confounded by imprecise use of the term "pedophile" to describe those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse under sociolegal definitions of "child" (inclusive of both prepubescent children and adolescents younger than the local age of consent), rather than the correct usage that describes adult sexual attraction specifically to biological children.


The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (F65.4) defines pedophilia as "a sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age."

The APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Text Revision gives the following as its "Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia":

Neither the ICD or the APA diagnostic criteria require actual sexual activity with a pre-pubescent youths. The diagnosis can therefore be made based on the presence of fantasies or sexual urges alone, provided the subject meets the remaining criteria. "For individuals in late adolescence with pedophilia, no precise age difference is specified, and clinical judgment must be used" (p. 527 DSM).

Nepiophilia, also called infantophilia, is a sub-diagnosis of pedophilia currently under consideration but not yet formalized, intended to define a sexual preference for toddlers and infants (usually ages 0-3).


The cause or causes of pedophilia are not well understood. German psychologist Michael Griesemer theorizesITP - Integrated theory on the causation of pedophilia erotica that pedophiles miss the switch of sexual interest from prepubescent to postpubescent partners (so-called sex-dimorphic maturation of the frontal brain) that usually occurs with the onset of puberty. Noted American sexologist John Money differentiated between affectional and sadistic pedophilia. He believed that affectional pedophilia was caused by a surplus of parental love that became erotic.

Evidence of familial transmittability "suggests, but does not prove that genetic factors are responsible" for the development of pedophilia. Is there familial transmission of pedophilia? '' (1972) remarked that "with males who have no deviant object preferences, clearly positive sexual reactions occur to [nude] 6- to 8-year old female children."

In 1989 Briere and Runtz conducted a study on 193 male undergraduate students concerning pedophilia. Of the sample, 21 percent acknowledged sexual attraction to some small children; nine percent reported sexual fantasies involving children; five percent admitted masturbating to these fantasies; and seven percent conceded some probability of actually having sex with a child if they could avoid detection and punishment. The authors also noted that "given the probable social undesirability of such admissions, [one could] hypothesize that the actual rates ... were even higher.".

A study by Hall et al. of Kent State University found that, of their sample of 80 adult male volunteers, 20 percent reported some attraction to prepubescent girls and 32.5 percent exhibited sexual arousal to heterosexual pedophilic stimuli that equaled or exceeded their arousal to the adult stimuli.

Less research is available regarding pedophilia's occurrence in females. In a 1996 study of a university sample, 2.6 percent of surveyed females self-reported at least some sexual interest in children.

Prevalence among child sex offenders

The term pedophile is commonly used to describe all child sexual offenders, including those who do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards. This use is seen as problematic by some people. Some researchers, such as Howard E. Barbaree, have endorsed the use of actions as a sole criterion for the diagnosis of pedophilia as a means of taxonomic simplification, rebuking the American Psychiatric Association's standards as "unsatisfactory". Child sexual abuse, whether perpetrated by a clinically diagnosed pedophile or a situational offender, is illegal in most jurisdictions.

A perpetrator of child sexual abuse is commonly assumed to be and referred to as a pedophile; however, there may be other motivations for the crime (such as stress, marital problems, or the unavailability of an adult partner), much as adult rape can have non-sexual impetus. Child sexual abuse may or may not be an indicator that its perpetrator is a pedophile.

As noted by Abel, Mittleman, and Becker (1985) and Ward et al. (1995), there are generally large distinctions between the two types of offenders' characteristics. Situational offenders tend to offend at times of stress; have a later onset of offending; have fewer, often familial victims; and have a general preference for adult partners. Pedophilic offenders, however, often start offending at an early age; often have a large number of victims who are frequently extrafamilial; are more inwardly driven to offend; and have values or beliefs that strongly support an offense lifestyle.

Attempts have been made to use offender profiling to identify pedophiles, however, these methods have come under criticism for making claims that are in excess of what the evidence supports.'''


A number of proposed treatment techniques for pedophilia have been developed. In 1981, writer David Crawford reported that the success rate of these therapies was very low. Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic, believed pedophilia could "indeed be successfully treated," if only the medical community would give it more attention. More recently, Dr. Berlin has concluded that, as a sexuality, pedophilia cannot be cured.

Some psychologists, such as Dr. Fred S. Berlin, assert sexual attraction to pre-pubescent youths to be a sexual orientation in itself. In one article, Berlin writes "it is likely that no one would choose voluntarily to develop a pedophilic sexual orientation. Those with such an orientation have no more decided to have it than have any of us decided as children to be either heterosexual or homosexual." Berlin also defends the classification of pedophilia as a mental disorder, however, stating "In our society, to have a pedophilic sexual orientation can create both psychological burdens and impairments."

Although there are no known therapies for treating pedophilia, many therapies are available for treating the behavior of offending pedophiles. Such therapies do not affect a person's sexual attraction to children, but some are very effective at preventing re-offending behavior.Public Policy

Medical therapies

Behavior modification programs have been shown to reduce recidivism in contact sex offenders. Often such programs use principles of applied behavior analysis such as the use of reward and punishment to train new behavior such as problem solving. Many of the programs use covert sensitization and odor aversion, which are both forms of aversion therapy. While such programs are effective in lowering recidivism by 15-18 percent, they do not represent a cure.

Anti-androgenic medications such as Depo Provera may be used to lower testosterone levels in offending pedophiles, and are often used in conjunction with the non-medical approaches above. (This is commonly referred to as "chemical castration.") Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues, which last longer and have less side effects, are also effective in reducing libido and may be used.

A study by the Council on Scientific Affairs found that the success rate of aversion therapy was parallel to that of homosexual reparative therapy; that is to say, extremely low. This method is rarely used on pedophiles who have not offended.

Convicted sex offenders, including many pedophiles, have been treated by the psychosurgical procedure commonly known as lobotomization. Psychosurgery has long been controversial, particularly the historical use of surgical intervention on homosexuals given that homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness by the psychiatric community (see for instance Rieber et al. 1976; Sigusch 1977; Rieber & Sigusch 1979; Schorsch & Schmidt 1979) Lobotomies are generally no longer practiced and are prohibited in a number of countries.

Thalamotomy is an alternative surgical treatment of sex offenders in practice since the problems with leucotomy have been commonly known (see Greist 1990; Diering & Bell 1991; Hay & Sachdev 1992; Rappaport 1992; de la Porte 1993; Poynton 1993; Bridges et al. 1994; Cummings et al. 1995) and is increasingly advertised as an "effective therapy" for sex offenders (as well as for some children suffering from symptoms of child sexual abuse, since the 1980s (see for instance Andy 1970; Bradford 1988a; Wyre & Swift 1991; Abel et al. 1992; Bridges et al. 1994; Cummings et al. 1995). As Levey and Curfman have noted, however, given the availability of psychopharmacological treatment options, psychosurgical interventions are not likely to be employed given their extreme side effects and irreversible nature. See the same article for an in depth review of treatment options and diagnostic criteria.

Additionally, Reid writes that neurosurgery for sex offenders is "essentially unavailable" in the United States and that data on its use is sparse.

Many proponents of therapy for "pedophiles" cite the research of Klaus M. Beier of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine at CharitÚ, a large university hospital in Berlin, Germany, which reported success in a preliminary study using role-play therapy and medicine. According to researchers, contact child sex offenders were better able to control their urges once they understood the pre-pubescent youth's view.EUX.TV - Berlin hospital says therapy helped 20 paedophilesGerman Pedophilia Project Touts Results, Pleads for Funds | Germany | Deutsche Welle |31.05.2007 Although these results are relevant to the prevention of re-offending in contact child sex offenders, there is no empirical suggestion that such therapy is a cure for pedophilia.

History of the term

The word comes from the Greek paidophilia : pais and philia . Paidophilia was coined by Greek poets either as a substitute for "paiderastia" (pederasty), or vice versa.

The classic spelling is with ae or Š, to avoid confusion with pedophilia, which etymologically means attraction to the ground . The term should also not be confused with podophilia either, which is attraction to feet . It is correctly pronounced using the "ped" as in "pediatrician," not as in "pedestrian" (as the original spelling contained an Š, which is pronounced as a long e).

The term paedophilia erotica was coined in 1886 by the Viennese psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his writing Psychopathia Sexualis. He gave the following characteristics:

As people who have this interest would include many adolescents and pre-pubescents, some experts who theorize that attraction to minors is more common among youth, specify that the interest must be toward pre-pubescent youths at least five years younger than the subject.

Adults sexually attracted to pre-pubescent youths were placed into three categories by Krafft-Ebing:

Other researchers used their own terms for the Krafft-Ebing categories:

This three-type model as well as the fundamental mental and behavioural differences of the three types were empirically evidenced, among others, by Kinsey; Howells 1981; Abel, Mittleman & Becker 1985; Knight et al. 1985; Brongersma 1990; McConaghy 1993; Ward et al. 1995; Hoffmann 1996; Seikowski 1999.

Pedophilia-related activism

Pro-pedophile activism

Some pro-pedophile activists aim to change legal, medical and social views of pedophilia. The highly controversial Rind et al. study has been quoted by numerous pedophile advocacy organizations.

Anti-pedophile activism

Anti-pedophile activism encompasses opposition to pedophiles, pro-pedophile activism, and other phenomena that are seen as related to pedophilia, such as child pornography and child sexual abuse.Global Crime Report | INVESTIGATION | Child porn and the cybercrime treaty part 2 |BBC World Service Whilst much of the direct action classified as anti-pedophile involves demonstrations against sex offenders, groups advocating legalization of sexual activity between adults and children, and internet users who solicit sex from teens, there are some organizations, such as Absolute Zero, that explicitly target pedophiles.

See also

Notes and references


External links

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