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Pedophilia is the common term for sexual attraction to a minor. In technical medical contexts it has the narrower definition of the sexual attraction to prepubescents only. The counterpart technical terms for sexual attraction to older minors are 'hebephilia' and 'ephebophilia', although an insistence on their use in a discussion of pedophilia is generally a strong indicator that pedophilia apologetics are inbound. While pedophilia itself is believed to be largely biological in origin, the propensity to act upon it by engaging in child sexual abuse is increased by, perhaps not surprisingly, being the victim of a pedophile oneself.
 Medical Diagnosis
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders calls it "pedophilic disorder" when it meets certain criteria, including that "The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty". Pedophiles have to be at least 16 to be diagnosed with the disorder, but in the case of adolescent (16-17 year old) pedophiles the child has to be at least 5 years younger for the attraction to be termed pedophilia.
While not all pedophiles act upon their desires, more than one-third of child sexual abuse offenders were phallometrically identified as pedophiles compared to almost two-thirds of those convicted of the possession of child pornography. Phallometry is not exactly a robust indicator of sexual interest in general, although a phallometric response to images of children is an effective diagnostic. Pedophilic sexual abusers of children are, in general, less neurologically impaired than non-pedophilic sexual abusers of children , making the pedophile's abuse more horrifying.
Whenever any discussion of child sexual abuse comes up and people denounce pedophiles, inevitably someone will proclaim the truism "Not all pedophiles are child abusers/molesters!"
But the truth may be more pedophile-friendly than one might guess. Many child sexual abusers are in fact not prominently or exclusively pedophilic; their main attraction may be to adults, but they molest children if it is easier to gain sexual access to children. Since children are often intellectually, physically, financially, and politically weaker than adults, they may be easier targets for abuse. For example, an 18-year-old daughter may be able to get in a car and drive away from an abusive father to go live somewhere else, while a 6-year-old daughter whose stories of abuse are not believed may be stuck with him. Only 40% to 50% of convicted child molesters meet the diagnostic classification of pedophilia.
The problem is, there is no word for "a person who would abuse children if given the opportunity, but may not have done so yet." Some pedophiles refrain from child abuse  for ethical or practical reasons, and thus might be offended by the implication that the only thing that has stopped them from molesting children is that they haven't had the chance, or it was too risky. From their perspective, they are just trying to make the best of a situation they were born into, and don't deserve to be hated for desires they can't change, but which they choose not to act upon. A counter-argument is that if they were to keep quiet about their sexual attractions, they wouldn't be discriminated against.
There is very little data about the proportion of pedophiles who commit sex offenses. Some differences between pedophilic and non-pedophilic child molesters are that the non-pedophiles score as significantly more psychopathic, and the pedophiles tend to have more victims, respond more poorly to treatment, and are more likely to reoffend.
At least one study has suggested that pedophilia is probably a sexual orientation (a person's inborn and unalterable sexual preference, irrespective of whether that preference is harmful to others or not). This type of suggestion tends to cause a firestorm of controversy, as some people figure that since homosexuality is a sexual orientation, that means that if pedophilia were to be regarded as a sexual orientation, society would have to condone child sexual abuse in the same way as it accepts sexual intercourse between consenting adults of the same sex. As with heterosexuality or homosexuality, people tend to realize their pedophilia during adolescence, which can contribute to the confusing feelings of that period of life.
A study of 1312 Finnish male twins found that childhood sexual interactions with other children are associated with lower preferred age of sexual partners including sexual interest in children in adulthood. This suggests a role of conditioning in the development of sexual age preferences.
Several studies show that only a minority of men, and a very small minority of women, are sexually aroused by children. Women pedophiles can do serious harm and the extent of the problem is hard to determine. Men are reluctant to admit they were abused as boys since this challenges their masculinity. Also suspicions of female child abusers are frequently not taken seriously since investigators expect abusers to be male. A 1980's US study cited by the BBC suggested women did 20% of offences against boys and 5% against girls. In the UK it is estimated that women commit between 5% and 10% of offenses to prepubescent children. 
In a sample of nearly 200 university males, 21% reported some sexual attraction to small children, 9% described sexual fantasies involving children, 5% admitted to having masturbated to sexual fantasies of children, and 7% indicated they might have sex with a child if not caught. In another sample with 100 male and 180 female undergraduate students, 22% of males and 3% of females reported sexual attraction to a child.
In a sample of 80 volunteers, about 25% self-reported some pedophilic interest or in the plethysmographic phase exhibited penile arousal to a child that equaled or exceeded arousal to an adult. In a control group of 66 males recruited from hospital staff and the community, 17% showed a penile response that was pedophilic.
An estimate of 1 percent of the male population has pedophilic disorder, and it is assumed that a much smaller proportion of the female population has it.
 Cultural influences
In Erotic Innocence, Richard Kincaid traces the evolution of popular Western conceptions of sexuality and children over the past two or three centuries. Kincaid argues that the notion that children are pure, chaste and innocent was first formulated in England during the Victorian era. Historians such as Phillipe Aries have argued that before the seventeenth century children were essentially viewed as miniature adults, and were therefore given the freedom to fight, steal, study, have sex, travel, find homes and work, with little protection or interference from adults. The idea of childhood as a state of innocence, according to Aries, was a creation of Victorian British society in the nineteenth century. At the same time, the Victorians concocted a new ideal of the sexually desirable object. Unfortunately, the "new" child and the sexually desirable object had identical characteristics, including "softness, cuteness, docility, and passivity." According to Kincaid, "[w]e've been living, not so happily, with the results of [the Victorians'] bungling ever since."
In most online forums, confessing to being a pedophile is considered trolling because the implication is that the person may be a danger to any youngsters who use the site, and therefore could expose the site to legal risk. In particular, Wikipedia has banned self-identified pedophiles.
Masturbatory reconditioning, social skills learning, and cognitive redirection are treatments for pedophilia, that pedophiles are sometimes encouraged to practice on their own if they are afraid to reveal their desires to a therapist. Some of the more cutting edge treatments would use virtual reality to teach control of pedophilic urges. There is no known cure for pedophilia, though.
 Public opinion
- 44 percent believe pedophilia is something that one can choose
- 49 percent believe that people with pedophilia have taken a deliberate decision to have these interests
- 48 percent believe that people have the choice whether they have pedophilia or not
- 94 percent believe pedophilia poses a danger for children
- 83 percent believe pedophilia poses a danger for adolescents
- 39 percent believe pedophilia poses a danger for adults
- 59 percent feel afraid when they think of pedophiles
- 40 percent feel pity when they think of pedophiles
- 84 percent feel anger when they think of pedophiles
When asked, "How do you feel about interacting with people who are dominantly sexually interested in children, but have never committed a crime?":
- 5 percent would have such a person as a friend
- 6 percent would accept such a person in their neighborhood
- 11 percent would accept such a person as a work colleague
- 15 percent would talk to such a person
- 49 percent would prefer such a person to be incarcerated
- 27 percent would be prefer the person deceased.
By comparison, only 21 percent favored incarceration of psychopaths who have never committed a crime, and only 8 percent favored death for psychopaths who have never committed a crime.
- ↑ "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition". American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
- ↑ Pedophilia
- ↑ http://behavenet.com/node/21512
- ↑ Child pornography offenses are a valid diagnostic indicator of pedophilia
- ↑ Simon, W. T., & Schouten, P. G. (1992). The plethysmograph reconsidered: Comments on Barker and Howell. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 20, 13-25.
- ↑ Hanson, R. K., & Bussière, M. T. (1998). Predicting relapse: A meta-analysis of sexual offender recidivism studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 348–362.
- ↑ The Neuropsychology of Sexual Offenders: A Meta-Analysis
- ↑ Neil Malamuth & Mark Huppin, Drawing the Line on Virtual Child Pornography: Bringing the Law in Line with the Research Evidence, 31 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 773, 789 (2007)
- ↑ Can you stop a paedophile before they even start?
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/10/06/pedophilia-not-a-crime-rutgers-margo-kaplan/
- ↑ Donald S. Strassberga, Angela Eastvoldb, J. Wilson Kenneyc, Yana Suchya (April 2012). "Psychopathy among pedophilic and nonpedophilic child molesters". Child Abuse & Neglect 36 (4): 379-382.
- ↑ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10508-011-9882-6
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/31/pedophilia-sexual-orientation_n_4183482.html
- ↑ http://gawker.com/5941037/born-this-way-sympathy-and-science-for-those-who--want-to-have-sex-with-children
- ↑ Santtila, Pekka (30 January 2010). "Childhood sexual interactions with other children are associated with lower preferred age of sexual partners including sexual interest in children in adulthood.(Report)". Psychiatry research 175: 154.
- ↑ Are there women paedophiles?
- ↑ Briere, J., & Runtz, M. (1989). University males' sexual interest in children: Predicting potential indices of "pedophilia" in a non-forensic sample. Child Abuse and Neglect, 13, 65-75
- ↑ Smiljanich, K., & Briere, J. (1996). Self-reported sexual interest in children: Sex differences and psychosocial correlates in a university sample. Violence and Victims, 11, 39-50
- ↑ Hall, G. C. N., Hirschman, R., & Oliver, L. L. (1995). Sexual arousal and arousability to pedophilic stimuli in a community sample of normal men. Behavior Therapy, 26, 681-694
- ↑ Fedora, O., Reddon, J. R., Morrison, J. W., Fedora, S. K., Pascoe, H., & Yeudall, L. T. (1992). Sadism and other paraphilias in normal controls and aggressive and nonaggressive sex offenders. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 21, 1-15.
- ↑ Phillipe Aries, Centuries of Childhood (New York: Vintage Books, 1962)
- ↑ http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/pedophilia-seeking-help
- ↑ http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/11/can-virtual-reality-treat-pedophiles.html
- ↑ http://neuroanthropology.net/2010/05/10/inside-the-mind-of-a-pedophile/
- ↑ Jahnke, Sara (January 2015). "Stigmatization of People with Pedophilia: Two Comparative Surveys". Archives of sexual behavior 44 (1): 21-34.