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Pedophilia (or paedophilia, originally Greek παιδοφιλια; paidophilia) is an erotic age preference (chronophilia) for pre-pubescent children. While the exact definition varies by context, the medical definition most commonly referred to is that of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Those who meet the criteria set below are classed as pedophiles. Common usage do not follow the strict medical definitions of an adult or teen who is attracted to prepubescent children, but often refers to any adult who is attracted to, or has sexual contact with, any person under the age of consent, or the age of majority (often 16-18 in most western countries). For example, the correct term for an attraction to pubescents would be hebephilia.

In many societies and cultures, the term pedophile is highly stigmatized and represents an image of an evil, callous monster. This spurs many self-identified pedophiles to adopt names such as boylover, MAP, girllover, and childlover, among others, to assist in differentiating themselves and their values from this stereotype.

Some believe that pedophiles have made great contributions to past societies, and that their influence is often ignored or their attraction to children is greatly played down. Others disagree with this idea, and claim that alleged historical pedophiles actually preferred the company of persons who were in their late teens or early 20s.

Pedophilia according to the DSM

According to the DSM-5, there are three criteria:

  • An individual who has had arousing fantasies about, urges for, or behaviors with a prepubescent child or children.
  • The individual has acted out these sexual desires, or is experiencing significant distress or difficulty as a result of these desires.
  • The Individual is 16 years of age, and at least five years older than the child or children noted in Criterion A.

Specifiers are:

  • Exclusive type - sexual attraction to children only.
  • Non-exclusive type - sexual attraction to adults and children.
  • Attraction to boys.
  • Attraction to girls.
  • Incestuous only.

According to the DSM-5, the actual prevalence of Pedophilic Disorder is unknown, with an estimate of 3% to 5% (American Psychiatric Association, 2013a).[1]

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