A pedophile is an individual whose primary sexual orientation is for children. Quite literally the word pedophilia means love ("-philia") for children ("pedo-"). In the field of psychology, a pedophile is considered to have paraphilia, or a psychosexual disorder. In the field of law, a pedophile is not a criminal unless s/he acts on their desires for children. When a pedophile does act on his or her feelings or desires, they may be committing acts of child sexual abuse or molestation, child exploitation, child pornography, incest, kidnapping, statutory rape, or the prostitution of minors.

There is no definitive profile of a pedophile, as individual characteristics can vary significantly. A pedophile can be a man or a woman. Of those pedophiles that commit unlawful acts involving children, the perpetrator is much more likely to be a man (80-90 percent) than a woman (10-20 percent). A pedophile may be a trustworthy and respectable adult in the community, who shows no outward signs of their condition to others.

A pedophile often prefers the company of children to the company of adults and desires time spent with children doing child-appropriate activities. A pedophile may be married to, or date people who have children in their desired age range. A pedophile may have been the victim of sexual abuse themselves as a child. A pedophile may derive satisfaction from children in a number of ways: some stop at looking, others take pictures and watch children, and still others require more contact to satisfy their desires.

Any sexual act that involves a minor and an adult is unlawful. Individuals who are below the age of consent are considered by the law to be unable to give consent to any type of sexual activity. It is commonly believed that any person who molests a child is a pedophile and that is not always true. According to research, only two to ten percent of all child molesters are pedophiles in the true definition of the word. The majority of child molesters are situational offenders whose motives and desires are different than those of a pedophile. Regardless of motive or offender characteristics (pedophile or not), any act committed by an adult or older child that is sexual in nature and involves children is an illegal felony offense.

A pedophile will typically not stop their behavior on their own, will not turn themselves in and will not take responsibility for or acknowledge their own wrongdoing. A true pedophile can be treated but not cured of their condition. A pedophile who commits any sexual act involving children can be charged with a felony crime and face years of prison time, heavy fines, and other penalties. A convicted pedophile is required to register with a sex offender registry upon release from incarceration and must do so for the rest of their lives in most cases.

A sex offender registry provides information to the public about sex offenders who live, work, or otherwise reside in their communities. This registry requirement is mandated by a federal law known as Megan's Law which was passed in 1996. If you would like to learn more about pedophilia, please contact us to speak with an attorney.

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