Pedophilia and sexual offenses against children

Annu Rev Sex Res. 2004:15:321-61.


This article reviews the definition and assessment of pedophilia, describes the relationship between pedophilia and sexual offenses against children, and provides an overview of our current theoretical understanding of the etiology of pedophilia. A great deal is known about the assessment of pedophilia--attributable to public and professional concerns regarding the empirical association between pedophilia and sexual offenses against children--but much remains to be learned about pedophilia, including its prevalence in the general population, cross-cultural manifestations, developmental trajectories, and causes. Recent research suggests that neurodevelopmental problems and childhood sexual abuse play a role in the etiology of pedophilia, but the mechanisms that are involved are unknown. Future directions for research on assessment methods and etiology are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / classification*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Welfare*
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Pedophilia / classification*
  • Pedophilia / diagnosis*
  • Pedophilia / psychology
  • Research Design