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Attraction to prepubescent children

Sexual attraction to boys (or girls) who have not yet entered puberty is termed pedophilia.

The term pedophile has its origins in ancient Greek as a synonym to pederast; that is, a man who falls in love with adolescent boys.12

However, it has acquired many different meanings in different parts of the world, and among different segments of society. Researchers and clinicians often use the term in inconsistent ways:

The DSM-IV-TR definition differs from that of many researchers in that it excludes cases where the adult has a preferential attraction to prepubescent children but does not act on it and does not experience distress or difficulty. There are unresolved issues in the DSM definition of pedophilia related to this fact, and to the fact that the definition may not meet the DSMís own criteria for classification as a mental disorder.18

This site uses the term pedophilia as it is used by leading North American researchers (the first group above); that is:

Adult sexual interaction with prepubescent children is termed pedosexual behavior. The adult involved in such behavior need not be a pedophile; that is, not preferentially attracted to children.19

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12. Liddell, H.G. & Scott, R., Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1959.

13. Feierman, 1990a; Okami & Goldberg, 1992.

14. Sandfort, 1987; Wilson & Cox, 1983.

15. Okami & Goldberg, 1992; Smiljanich & Briere, 1996.

16. Okami & Goldberg, 1992.

17. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM IV-TR, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

18. Green, 2002.

19. Feierman, 1990a; Okami & Goldberg, 1992; Sandfort, 1987.