The term pedophilia or paedophilia has a range of definitions as found in common usage, psychology, and law enforcement. As a medical diagnosis, it is defined as a psychological disorder in which an adult experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children and may engage in child sexual abuse, also known as "pedophilic behavior". According to the DSM, pedophilia is a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or has sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty.
In common usage, the term pedophile or paedophile refers to an adult who is sexually attracted to children, whether or not the adult acts upon that attraction by sexually abusing a child. In law enforcement, the term "pedophile" is generally used to describe those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse under sociolegal definitions of child (including both prepubescent children and adolescents younger than the local age of consent); as can be seen for example in the name of the United Kingdom police agency, the Paedophile Unit. Some researchers have described this usage as improper and suggested it can confound two separate types of offenders, child molesters and rapists, thereby obscuring results of ongoing research.
The causes of pedophilia have not been determined, though there are a variety of theories ranging from biological to psychological, and research is ongoing. Most pedophiles are men, though pedophilia occurs in women as well. In psychology and law enforcement, there have been a variety of typologies suggested to categorize pedophiles according to behavior and motivations. There is no known treatment or cure for pedophilia, however there are therapies that can reduce the incidence of pedophilic behaviors that result in child sexual abuse.
- American Psychiatric Association's current definition of Pedophilia in the DSM-IV and proposed revisions in the DSM-5 (upcoming in 2013) as "Pedehebephilic Disorder"
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