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The term pedophilia (or paedophilia) has a range of definitions as found in psychiatry, psychology, law enforcement, and the vernacular. As a medical diagnosis, it is defined as a psychological disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children. According to the World Health Organization, 16 and 17-year-old adolescents qualify if they have a persistent or predominant sexual preference for prepubescent children at least five years younger than them. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), pedophilia is specified as a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty. The disorder is common among people who commit child sexual abuse; however, some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia. In strictly behavioral contexts, the word "pedophilia" has been used to refer to child sexual abuse itself, also called "pedophilic behavior".

In law enforcement, the term "pedophile" is generally used to describe those convicted of child sexual abuse or the sexual abuse of a minor, including both prepubescent children and pubescent or post-pubescent adolescents. An example of this use can be seen in various forensic training manuals. Some researchers describe these overlapping definitions as confusing and recommend that researchers use the term "pedophilia" specifically to identify sexual preference for biological children and avoid the legal uses of the term that may also include attraction to post-pubescent minors. In common usage, the term refers to any adult who is sexually attracted to young children or who sexually abuses a child or adolescent minor.

The causes of pedophilia are not known; research is ongoing. Most pedophiles are men, though there are also women who are pedophiles. Due to the stereotype that pedophiles are always male, it has been difficult to determine the prevalence of female pedophiles; however, studies in the UK and USA suggest that a range of 5% to 20% of child sexual abuse offenses are perpetrated by women.

In forensic psychology and law enforcement, there have been a variety of typologies suggested to categorize pedophiles according to behavior and motivations. No significant curative treatment for pedophilia has yet been found. There are, however, certain therapies that can reduce the incidence of pedophilic behaviors that result in child sexual abuse.

History of the term

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

The term paedophilia erotica was coined in 1886 by the Viennesemarker psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his writing Psychopathia Sexualis. He listed the following characteristics:
  • The sexual interest is toward prepubescent youths only. This interest does not extend to the first signs of pubic hair.
  • The sexual interest is toward prepubescent youths only and does not include teenagers.
  • The sexual interest remains over time.


Adults sexually attracted to prepubescent youths were placed into three categories by Krafft-Ebing:
  1. pedophile
  2. surrogate (that is, the prepubescent youths are regarded as a substitute object for a preferred, non-available adult object)
  3. sadistic


These types have been expanded upon and updated over the years into a variety of typologies (see Child Sexual Offender Types)

Diagnosis

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":
  • A. Over a period of at least six 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 sexual 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 five years older than the child or children in Criterion A.


The diagnosis is further specified by the sex of the children the person is attracted to, and if the impulses or acts are limited to incest. It is also sometimes split further into two categories: exclusive type (attracted only to children) and nonexclusive type.

Exclusive pedophiles are attracted to children, and children only. They show little erotic interest in adults their own age and in some cases, can only become aroused while fantasizing or being in the presence of prepubescent children. Nonexclusive pedophiles are attracted to both children and adults, and can be sexually aroused by both. According to a U.S. study on 2429 adult male pedophile sex offenders, only 7% identified themselves as exclusive; indicating that many or most pedophiles fall into the nonexclusive category. Some systems further differentiate types of offender in more specific categories (see Child Sexual Offender Types).

Neither the ICD nor the DSM diagnostic criteria require actual sexual activity with a prepubescent youth. The diagnosis can therefore be made based on the presence of fantasies or sexual urges even if they have never been acted upon. On the other hand, a person who acts upon these urges yet experiences no distress about their fantasies or urges can also qualify for the diagnosis. Acting on sexual urges is not limited to overt sex acts for purposes of this diagnosis, and can sometimes include indecent exposure, voyeuristic or frotteuristic behaviors, or masturbating to child pornography. Often these behaviors need to be considered in-context with an element of clinical judgment before a diagnosis is made. Likewise, when the patient is in late adolescence, the age difference is not specified in hard numbers and instead requires careful consideration of the situation.

Nepiophilia, also called infantophilia, is used to refer to a sexual preference for toddlers and infants (usually ages 0–3).

Ego-dystonic sexual orientation ( ) includes people who do not doubt that they have a prepubertal sexual preference, but wish it were different because of associated psychological and behavioral disorders. The WHO allows for the patient to seek treatment to change their sexual orientation.

Causes

The cause or causes of pedophilia are not known. The experience of sexual abuse as a child was previously thought to be a strong risk factor, but research does not show a causal relationship, as the vast majority of sexually abused children do not grow up to be adult offenders, nor do the majority of adult offenders report childhood sexual abuse. The US Government Accountability Office concluded, "the existence of a cycle of sexual abuse was not established." Until 1996, there was greater belief in the theory of a "cycle of violence," because most of the research done was retrospective—abusers were asked if they had experienced past abuse. Even the majority of studies found that most adult sex offenders said they had not been sexually abused during childhood, but studies varied in terms of their estimates of the percentage of such offenders who had been abused, from 0 to 79 percent. More recent prospective longitudinal research — studying children with documented cases of sexual abuse over time to determine what percentage become adult offenders — has demonstrated that the cycle of violence theory is not an adequate explanation for why people molest children.

Biological associations

Several researchers have reported correlations between pedophilia and certain psychological characteristics, such as low self-esteem and poor social skills. Beginning in 2002, other researchers began reporting a series of findings linking pedophilia with brain structure and function: Pedophilic (and hebephilic) men have lower IQs, poorer scores on memory tests, greater rates of non-right-handedness, greater rates of school grade failure over and above the IQ differences, lesser physical height, greater probability of having suffered childhood head injuries resulting in unconsciousness, and several differences in MRI-detected brain structures. They report that their findings suggest that there are one or more neurological characteristics present at birth that cause or increase the likelihood of being pedophilic. Evidence of familial transmittability "suggests, but does not prove that genetic factors are responsible" for the development of pedophilia.

Another study, using structural MRI, shows that male pedophiles have a lower volume of white matter than a control group.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that child molesters diagnosed with pedophilia have reduced activation of the hypothalamus as compared with non-pedophilic persons when viewing sexually arousing pictures of adults. A 2008 functional neuroimaging study notes that central processing of sexual stimuli in heterosexual "paedophile forensic inpatients" may be altered by a disturbance in the prefrontal networks, which "may be associated with stimulus-controlled behaviours, such as sexual compulsive behaviours." The findings may also suggest "a dysfunction at the cognitive stage of sexual arousal processing."

Blanchard, Cantor, and Robichaud (2006) reviewed the research that attempted to identify hormonal aspects of pedophiles. They concluded that there is some evidence that pedophilic men have less testosterone than controls, but that the research is of poor quality and that it is difficult to draw any firm conclusion from it.

While not causes of pedophilia themselves, comorbid psychiatric illnesses — such as personality disorders and substance abuse — are risk factors for acting on pedophilic urges. Blanchard, Cantor, and Robichaud (2006) noted about comorbid psychiatric illnesses that, "The theoretical implications are not so clear. Do particular genes or noxious factors in the prenatal environment predispose a male to develop both affective disorders and pedophilia, or do the frustration, danger, and isolation engendered by unacceptable sexual desires—or their occasional furtive satisfaction—lead to anxiety and despair?" They indicated that, because they previously found mothers of pedophiles to be more likely to have undergone psychiatric treatment, the genetic possibility is more likely.

Psychopathology and personality traits

Cohen et al. (2002), studying child sex offenders, states that pedophiles have impaired interpersonal functioning and elevated passive-aggressiveness, as well as impaired self-concept. Regarding disinhibitory traits, pedophiles demonstrate elevated sociopathy and propensity for cognitive distortions. According to the authors, pathologic personality traits in pedophiles lend support to a hypothesis that such pathology is related to both motivation for and failure to inhibit pedophilic behavior.

According to Wilson and Cox (1983), "The paedophiles emerge as significantly higher on Psychoticism, Introversion and Neurotocism than age-matched controls. [But] there is a difficulty in untangling cause and effect. We cannot tell whether paedophiles gravitate towards children because, being highly introverted, they find the company of children less threatening than that of adults, or whether the social withdrawal implied by their introversion is a result of the isloation engendered by their preference (i.e., awareness of the social approbation and hostility that it evokes" (p. 324).

Studying child sex offenders, a review of qualitative research studies published between 1982 and 2001 concluded that pedophiles use cognitive distortions to meet personal needs, justifying abuse by making excuses, redefining their actions as love and mutuality, and exploiting the power imbalance inherent in all adult-child relationships. Other cognitive distortions include the idea of "children as sexual beings," "uncontrollability of sexuality," and "sexual entitlement-bias."

One review of the literature concludes that research on personality correlates and psychopathology in pedophiles is rarely methodologically correct, in part owing to confusion between pedophiles and child sex offenders, as well as the difficulty of obtaining a representative, community sample of pedophiles. Seto (2004) points out that pedophiles who are available from a clinical setting are likely there because of distress over their sexual preference or pressure from others. This increases the likelihood that they will show psychological problems. Similarly, pedophiles recruited from a correctional setting have been convicted of a crime, making it more likely that they will show anti-social characteristics.

Child molestation

Some people with pedophilia threaten children to stop them from reporting their actions. Others, like those that often victimize children, can develop complex ways of getting access to children, like gaining the trust of a child's parent, trading children with other pedophiles or on infrequent occasions, get foster children from nonindustrialized nations or abduct child victims from strangers. Pedophiles may often act interested in the child, to gain the child's interest, loyalty and affection to keep the child from letting others know about the abuse.

Prevalence

The prevalence of pedophilia in the general population is not known, and research is highly variable owing to varying definitions and criteria. The term pedophile is commonly used to describe all child sexual abuse 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".

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). Child sexual abuse may or may not be an indicator that its perpetrator is a pedophile. Many terms have been used to distinguish "true pedophiles" from nonpedophilic offenders, or to distinguish among types of offenders on a continuum according to strength and exclusivity of pedophilic interest, and motivation for the offense (see Child Sexual Offender Types).

Perpetrators who meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia offend more often than non-pedophile perpetrators, and with a greater number of victims. According to the Mayo Clinicmarker, approximately 95% of child sexual abuse incidents are committed by the 88% of child molestation offenders who meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia. A behavioral analysis report by the FBImarker states that a "high percentage of acquaintance child molesters are preferential sex offenders who have a true sexual preference for children (i.e., pedophiles)."

A review article in the British Journal of Psychiatry notes the overlap between extrafamilial and intrafamilial offenders. One study found that around half of the fathers and stepfathers in its sample who were referred for committing extrafamilial abuse had also been abusing their own children.

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. Research suggests that incest offenders recidivate at approximately half the rate of extrafamilial child molesters, and one study estimated that by the time of entry to treatment, nonincestuous pedophiles who molest boys had committed an average of 282 offenses against 150 victims.

Treatment

Although pedophilia has yet no cure, various treatments are available that are aimed at reducing or preventing the expression of pedophilic behavior, reducing the prevalence of child sexual abuse. Treatment of pedophilia often requires collaboration between law enforcement and health care professionals. A number of proposed treatment techniques for pedophilia have been developed, though the success rate of these therapies has been very low.

Cognitive behavioral therapy ("relapse prevention")

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to reduce recidivism in contact sex offenders.

According to Canadianmarker sexologist Michael Seto, cognitive-behavioral treatments target attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are believed to increase the likelihood of sexual offenses against children, and "relapse prevention" is the most common type of cognitive-behavioral treatment. The techniques of relapse prevention are based on principles used for treating addictions.

Other scientists have also done some research that indicates that recidivism rates of pedophiles in therapy are lower than pedophiles who eschew therapy, says Dr. Zonana.

Behavioral interventions

Behavioral treatments target sexual arousal to children, using satiation and aversion techniques to suppress sexual arousal to children and covert sensitization (or masturbatory reconditioning) to increase sexual arousal to adults. Behavioral treatments appear to have an effect on sexual arousal patterns on phallometric testing, but it is not known whether the test changes represent changes in sexual interests or changes in the ability to control genital arousal during testing.

Applied behavior analysis has been applied with sex offenders with mental disabilities.

Pharmacological interventions

Medications are used to lower sex drive in pedophiles by interfering with the activity of testosterone, such as with Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate), Androcur (cyproterone acetate), and Lupron (leuprolide acetate).

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues, which last longer and have fewer side-effects, are also effective in reducing libido and may be used.

These treatments, commonly referred to as "chemical castration", are often used in conjunction with the non-medical approaches noted above. According the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, "Anti-androgen treatment should be coupled with appropriate monitoring and counseling within a comprehensive treatment plan."

In a controlled Depo-Provera treatment study of forty sex offenders — including 23 pedophiles — who received Depo-Provera, and 21 sex offenders who received psychotherapy alone, the outcome follow-up of the treated group as compared to the untreated group demonstrated that the reoffense rate for the Depo-Provera-treated group was significantly lower. Eighteen percent reoffended while receiving medication; 35 percent reoffended after stopping medication. In contrast, 58 percent of the control patients, who received psychotherapy alone reoffended. Patients defined as regressed were much more likely to reoffend off therapy than the patients defined as fixated.

Other therapies

Klaus M. Beier of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine at Charitémarker, a university hospital in Berlinmarker, reported success in a preliminary study using role-play therapy and "impulse-curbing drugs" to help pedophiles avoid sexually assaulting a child. According to researchers, contact child sex offenders were better able to control their urges once they understood the prepubescent youth's view.

Limitations of treatment

Although these results are relevant to the prevention of reoffending in contact child sex offenders, there is no empirical suggestion that such therapy is a cure for pedophilia. Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic, believes that pedophilia could be successfully treated if the medical community would give it more attention.

Related activism

Pedophile advocacy groups

During the late 1950s to early 1990s, several pedophile membership organizations advocated lowering or abolishing age of consent laws, for the acceptance of pedophilia as a sexual orientation rather than a psychological disorder, and for the legalization of child pornography. The efforts of pedophile advocacy groups did not gain any public support and today those few groups that have not dissolved have only minimal membership and have ceased their activities other than through a few websites.

Anti-pedophile activism

Anti-pedophile activism encompasses opposition against pedophiles, against pedophile advocacy groups, and against other phenomena that are seen as related to pedophilia, such as child pornography and child sexual abuse. 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.

See also



References

External links




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