In medicine, pedophilia (American English), alternatively spelled paedophilia or pædophilia (in British English), is sexual attraction of an adult to prepubescent children. In common usage, pedophilia or under-age sex is sexual attraction and sexual acts towards children generally, including adolescents who are far beyond a prepubescent level of physical and psychological development. This article will discuss these two concepts separately.

Table of contents
1 Clinical pedophilia
2 Underage sex
3 External link

Clinical pedophilia

Clinically, pedophilia is defined, to give one definition (from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Text Revision, American Psychiatric Association): Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia

Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.

Clinical pedophilia can be diagnosed solely in the presence of "fantasies" or "sexual urges" on the subject's part -- it need not involve criminal sexual acts with children. Pedophilia is not a legal category or term, and although the acts pedophiles desire to carry out are crimes, these crimes are not legally referred to as "pedophilia". Pedophilia in itself is not a crime -- only acting upon such urges is.

Sometimes a clinical distinction is made between pedophiles and "situational offenders" -- a distinction, however, which is not reflected in the APA's definition above. A pedophile, according to this distinction, is a person whose primary sexual attraction is to children, while a situational offender is someone who engages in sexual activity with children not as their primary sexual preference but due to a particular situation they are faced with, and would not otherwise engage in such activity except for that situation.

Underage sex

Since the age of consent is often higher than the upper age limit in the definition of clinical pedophilia, underage sex, i.e. sexual activity with underage adolescents, is not, in general, clinical pedophilia. While such activity may be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, it frequently exemplifies only borderline pedophilia, or far more commonly, no pedophilia at all, because the person's attraction is not specifically to persons that young. The terms hebephilia and ephebophilia are sometimes used to describe attraction to youths or adolescents, distinct from attraction to children.

Most cases of father-daughter incest are believed to involve fathers who are situational offenders, rather than clinical pedophiles. Some have argued that these cases are caused by the withdrawal of the mother (often due to mental illness) from the family -- this withdrawal is more than purely sexual.

Modern cultures in general strongly condemn underage sex and regard it as a very serious crime, based on the idea that children are not sufficiently mature to be able to consent to sex and that sex with children is therefore rape.

Pederasty is underage sex, especially anal sex, between male adults and male adolescents or children. The North American Man-Boy Love Association advocates legalization of pederasty.

See also:

External link