Psychological profile of pedophiles and child molesters

J Psychol. 2000 Mar;134(2):211-24. doi: 10.1080/00223980009600863.


Pedophiles and child molesters share some characteristics. Most are male, and they can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Some prefer adult sex partners but choose children because they are available and vulnerable. The sexual abuse perpetrated may be a 1-time incident and may consist only of fondling. Penetration is unlikely with young children. Perpetrators' ages range from teens to midlife. Most victims are girls, and the perpetrator usually is a relative, friend, or neighbor. The home of the victim is often the setting for the incident. When boys are victims, sexual abuse may take place outside the home, and perpetrators may be strangers. Perpetrators of sexual abuse of children often claim that they themselves were victims of childhood sexual abuse. Psychological profiles are helpful but are compromised partly because many perpetrators are prisoners and control groups are lacking for this research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pedophilia / diagnosis
  • Pedophilia / psychology*
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results