Basic information about pedophilia
What is pedophilia
Pedophilia is an erotic preference of children. Usually in expert's use the term is limited to preference of prepubescent children. Other terms are used for preference of different age groups of minors. We will get back to this later. Pedophilia is characterized by an emotional affection towards children, romantic feelings towards children, a pedophile can fall in love with a child. Pedophiles get sexually aroused by children and can have sexual fantasies or dreams about children. Pedophiles can have a preference for boys, girls or both.
Pedophiles typically start finding that they are attracted to children at the beginning of puberty – at 11–14 years. Pedophilia is a lasting orientation. Pedophiles can't control what age group they are attracted to. They can of course control their behavior.
The exact number of pedophiles in population is unknown. The best estimates are that about 0.5–2 % of males are pedophiles. The proportion of pedophiles among females is much lower (but the numbers are very unclear).
Other minor attracted groups
Other than people with preference for prepubescent children there also exist people who are attracted the most to people at puberty. People attracted to people in early-to-mid puberty are called hebephiles. People attracted towards people in late puberty and adolescence are called ephebophiles.
Some people are attracted the most strongly towards youngest children - babies and toddlers. Such preference is called nepiophilia or infantophilia. A lot of pedophiles aren't much or at all attracted to babies and toddlers.
The terms presented above don't describe perfectly the preferences of all minor attracted people. Some people are attracted to persons from more than one age category. We often come across to people who are attracted for example to older prepubescent and early pubescent children – their orientation lies somewhere between pedophilia and hebephilia. And even people who are attracted both to prepubescent boys and adult women exist.
Pedophilia as a sexual orientation?
Pedophilia is not typically considered a sexual orientation and is classified as paraphilia. Some sexologists, for example James Cantor or Michael Seto, call pedophilia a sexual orientation, other says pedophilia is something very similar to a sexual orientation.
We believe that calling pedophilia a sexual orientation would help people understand what the term pedophilia means. Pedophilia has very similar characteristic as the typically accepted sexual orientations, i. e. heterosexuality and homosexuality (more precisely heterosexual and homosexual teleiophilia). Pedophilia is analogous to those orientation in the age where first signs of it can be notices and stability over life. There is no known way how to change orientation of pedophile from children to adults just as there is no know way how to change heterosexual to homosexual and vice versa. Pedophiles have analogous feelings towards children as teleiophiles towards adults, including romantic feelings.
We should stress that eventual classification of pedophilia as sexual orientation does not mean that sexual contacts with children are acceptable or that marriage with children should be legalized. And that no matter how we classify pedophilia, the feelings that pedophiles have towards children remains the same.