The Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
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Pedophilia: Research

What follows is some of the most recent research that has been done on pedophilia since 2006. This is meant to be a starting point for finding more information about pedophilia, not an exhaustive list. Following each citation is a short description. Please be aware that for some articles, only the abstract is available without paying a fee or being a member of an educational institution, such as a school, college, or university. For some articles, a full text PDF is linked in the description. For a more complete listing that includes both dated research and research done on forensic populations (those with criminal convictions), please visit the "Science" page on Virtuous Pedophiles' resource list.


It is notable that the research that has been done into pedophilia is not nearly as thorough as it needs to be, and that more research and funding for that research is badly needed.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Pedophilic Disorder. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5 ed., pp. 697-700). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

This section of the DSM-V contains information about pedophilia that is current: That the attraction is not itself a disorder, that it is a sexual orientation, and that it is separate from the sexual abuse of a child is what most people will pull from it. This is a great introduction to those unfamiliar with pedophilia.

Beier, K. M., Ahlers, C. J., Goecker, D., Neutze, J., Mundt, I. A., Hupp, E., & Schaefer, G. A. (2009). Can pedophiles be reached for primary prevention of child sexual abuse? First results of the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 851-867. doi:10.1080/14789940903174188

This article discussed some of the preliminary results of Germany’s sexual abuse prevention project, publicly known as Don’t Offend, and the implications those results have on the cessation and prevention of child sexual abuse. While their findings are limited to those who responded to advertising for the project, they did find that a significant number of people who were concerned about the possibility of sexually abusing children had a sexual attraction to children in some form (57.7% for prepubescent children and 27.8% for pubescent children).

Cantor, J. M., & McPhail, I. V. (2016). Non-offending Pedophiles. Current Sexual Health Reports, 8(3), 121-128. doi:10.1007/s11930-016-0076-z

This article discusses pedophiles who have not sexually abused children, or viewed sexual abuse material as a broad overview for effective treatment options and potential options based on that overview. It is one of the most recent articles discussing non-offending pedophiles available, and the full text can be found here.

Finkelhor, D., & Araji, S. (2010). Explanations of pedophilia: A four factor model. The Journal of Sex Research, 145-161. doi:10.1080/00224498609551297

This article reviews theories for why pedophiles are sexually interested in children. Four theories are discussed: Emotional congruence, or the need for an adult to relate emotionally to children; Sexual arousal, or why adults become sexually attracted; Blockage, or why age-appropriate sources of emotional and sexual gratification are not available; Disinhibition, or why an adult is not deterred from such a sexual interest. This article discusses both offending and non-offending pedophiles.

Houtepen, J. A., Sijtsema, J. J., & Bogaerts, S. (2015). Being Sexually Attracted to Minors: Sexual Development, Coping With Forbidden Feelings, and Relieving Sexual Arousal in Self-Identified Pedophiles. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 48-69. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2015.1061077

This article looks at pedophilic attraction and risk factors for acting out in people who are not seeing a therapist for their attraction. Also discussed are the stigma against pedophilia, and the early interventions that could prevent sexual crimes among pedophiles. The full text of this study can be found here.

Jahnke, Sara. (2018) The Stigma of Pedophilia: Clinical and Forensic Implications. European Psychologist (2018), 23, 144-153 doi: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000325


This article gives a very broad overview of the stigma against pedophiles and the current research findings on the topic of pedophilia as it relates to child sexual abuse.


Jahnke, S., & Hoyer, J. (2013). Stigmatization of People With Pedophilia: A Blind Spot in Stigma Research. International Journal of Sexual Health, 169-184. doi:10.1080/19317611.2013.795921

This article discusses the stigmatization of pedophiles, and how stigma affects pedophiles and prejudices against pedophiles and pedophilia. They discuss limitations in current research, and suggest what kinds of studies need to be done in the future to address these limitations.

Jahnke, S., Imhoff, R., & Hoyer, J. (2014). Stigmatization of People with Pedophilia: Two Comparative Surveys. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 21-34. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0312-4

This was two separate studies done on how the public perceives pedophiles and pedophilia, as compared to other issues, such as alcohol abuse and people with antisocial tendencies. They then discuss how that stigma negatively impacts sexual abuse prevention.

Mitchell, R. C., & Galupo, M. P. (2015). Interest in child molestation among a community sample of men sexually attracted to children. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 224-232. doi:10.1080/13552600.2015.1056263

This article discussed the presence of pedophilia in non-forensic populations (among those with no criminal record). They essentially establish the need to differentiate sexual attraction to children, and the inclination to act on that attraction.

Seto, M. C., Cantor, J. M., & Blanchard, R. (2006). Child Pornography Offenses Are a Valid Diagnostic Indicator of Pedophilia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 610-615. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.115.3.610

This study is one of several vitally important studies looking at the prevalence of pedophilia in those who have convictions involving sexual abuse material, and those who have molested children. While the study’s sample size was limited, they found that 61% of those with sexual abuse material convictions had pedophilia, and 35% of those with molestation convictions had pedophilia. It is generally accepted among researchers that roughly a third of child sexual abusers have pedophilia, though there is no one study that demonstrates that. The full text of this study can be found here.