A pedophile can literally be anyone that you know. Most pedophiles hide who and what they are because of the social and legal stigma attached to it. The best way to understand pedophilia for what it is is for you to think of it as a sexual orientation. If you think of it in a similar way to homosexuality or heterosexuality, you will understand why there is no “cure” for pedophilia and that pedophiles did not choose to be attracted to children. The big difference between heterosexuality, homosexuality, and pedophilia, is that pedophilla is listed as and considered to be a psychiatric disorder, and an illness with no known cure.
Pedophilia is not a crime until he or she acts on his/her sexual urges. When a pedophile acts on his or her sexual attraction to children and or adolescents, it is considered sexual molestation and sexual abuse. It is against the law, and it should always be treated as such. By definition, a pedophile must at least be 16 years of age and at least 5 years older than the child that he or she fantasizes and has sexual urges towards or about.
Underage sex and sexual activity with underage teens is not clinically considered to be pedophilia. Hebephilia, sexual attraction to youths, and ephebophilia, sexual attraction to adolescents, are distinctly different from having sexual attraction to children. Most heterosexual males might be considered ephebophiliacs based on their sexual attraction to teenage pop-stars while they were still in their teens. Pedophilia is distinctively different.
In 1994 Dr. Gene Abel surveyed 453 pedophiles, his survey revealed that collectively, they were responsible for the molestation of over 67,000 children (That’s an average of 148 children / pedophile). Pedophiles are out there, and studies show that they do strike out. So the threat should be taken seriously. Visit our section on child molestation to gain insight on how to recognize victims and perpetrators.