A profile of pedophilia: definition, characteristics of offenders, recidivism, treatment outcomes, and forensic issues

Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Apr;82(4):457-71. doi: 10.4065/82.4.457.


Pedophilia has become a topic of increased interest, awareness, and concern for both the medical community and the public at large. Increased media exposure, new sexual offender disclosure laws, Web sites that list the names and addresses of convicted sexual offenders, politicians taking a 'get tough' stance on sexual offenders, and increased investigations of sexual acts with children have increased public awareness about pedophilia. Because of this increased awareness, it is important for physicians to understand pedophilia, its rate of occurrence, and the characteristics of pedophiles and sexually abused children. In this article, we address research that defines the various types and categories of pedophilia, review available federal data on child molestation and pornography, and briefly discuss the theories on what makes an individual develop a sexual orientation toward children. This article also examines how researchers determine if someone is a pedophile, potential treatments for pedophiles and sexually abused children, the risk of additional sexual offenses, the effect of mandatory reporting laws on both physicians and pedophiles, and limitations of the current pedophilic literature.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual
  • Crime
  • Erotica
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Pedophilia* / psychology
  • Pedophilia* / therapy
  • Personality
  • Sex Offenses
  • United States