The Psychology of Trauma

Sexual Abuse

What is pedophilia?

Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder characterized by persistent sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. Not all child molesters are pedophiles, however. For example, some child molesters sexually assault children not because they are sexually attracted to children, but because the child is a convenient target, because they are intoxicated, or for some other reason. Further, not all pedophiles are child molesters. Some people with strong and persistent sexual attraction to children may never act on their urges. Additionally, adults who molest adolescents are not necessarily pedophiles, as pedophilia refers only to the attraction to pre-pubescent children. The term hebephile is sometimes used to describe adults who are attracted to adolescents.


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