The paraphilic focus of Pedophilia involves sexual activity with a prepubescent child (generally age 13 years or younger).
The individual with Pedophilia must be age 16 years or older and at least 5 years older than the child. For individuals in late adolescence with Pedophilia, no precise age difference is specified, and clinical judgment must be used; both the sexual maturity of the child and the age difference must be taken into account.
Individuals with Pedophilia generally report an attraction to children of a particular age range. Some individuals prefer males, others females, and some are aroused by both males and females. Those attracted to females usually prefer 8- to 10-year-olds, whereas those attracted to males usually prefer slightly older children. Pedophilia involving female victims is reported more often than Pedophilia involving male victims.
Some individuals with Pedophilia are sexually attracted only to children (Exclusive Type), whereas others are sometimes attracted to adults (Nonexclusive Type).
Individuals with Pedophilia who act on their urges with children may limit their activity to undressing the child and looking, exposing themselves, masturbating in the presence of the child, or gentle touching and fondling of the child.
Others, however, perform fellatio or cunnilingus on the child or penetrate the child's vagina, mouth, or anus with their fingers, foreign objects, or penis and use varying degrees of force to do so.
These activities are commonly explained with excuses or rationalizations that they have "educational value" for the child, that the child derives "sexual pleasure" from them, or that the child was "sexually provocative" – themes that are also common in pedophilic pornography.
Because of the ego-syntonic nature of Pedophilia, many individuals with pedophilic fantasies, urges or behaviors do not experience significant distress. It is important to understand that experiencing distress about having the fantasies, urges or behaviors is not necessary for a diagnosis of Pedophilia. Individuals who have a pedophilic arousal pattern and act on these fantasies or urges with a child qualify for the diagnosis of Pedophilia.
Individuals may limit their activities to their own children, stepchildren, or relatives or may victimize children from outside their families. Some individuals with Pedophilia threaten the child to prevent disclosure. Others, particularly those who frequently victimize children, develop complicated techniques for obtaining access to children, which may include winning the trust of a child's mother, marrying a woman with an attractive child, trading children with other individuals with Pedophilia, or, in rare instances, taking in foster children from nonindustrialized countries or abducting children from strangers.
Except in cases in which the disorder is associated with Sexual Sadism, the person may be attentive to the child's needs in order to gain the child's affection, interest and loyalty and to prevent the child from reporting the sexual activity.
The disorder usually begins in adolescence, although some individuals with Pedophilia report that they did not become aroused by children until middle age. The frequency of pedophilic behavior often fluctuates with psychosocial stress. The course is usually chronic, especially in those attracted to males. The recidivism rate for individuals with Pedophilia involving a preference for males is roughly twice that for those who prefer females.
Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.