Healthy Awareness: Pedophile Awareness

In the last issue of the Fullerton Observer, an OC grand jury report on Human Trafficking in Orange County was published. I felt compelled to alert people of the characteristics of a pedophile as it relates to this horrible industry.

Behaviors of the diagnosis of pedophilia according to the American Psychiatric Association.

A pedophile is 16 years or older and 5 years or more older than the child victim. Pedophiles might be attracted to males, females, or both involving sexual activity of a prepubescent child or children 13 years or younger. Female victims are more often reported than males are, and those attracted to females prefer 8- to 10-year-olds. In acting on their urges, the individual with pedophilia may limit their activity to watching their victim undress or to more physical acts such as fondling and penetration.

Usually, the victims are their own children, stepchildren, or relatives, or they may victimize children outside their families, such as neighborhood or friends’ children. To prevent exposure, the pedophile may threaten the child to develop trust with the child’s mother or, in some cases, marry a woman with an attractive child. Some pedophiles also trade children with other pedophiles. In rare cases, pedophiles may take in foster children from non-industrialized countries or even abduct the child. In most cases, the pedophile is attentive to the child’s needs to gain the child’s affection.

My personal experience:

I personally had a couple of situations in my early years that showed how common predators can occur in our lives. When I was 9 years old, I had taken a ride with the father of a girl in my dancing class, whom I knew, but he did not end up taking me there. Instead, he went to a vacant lot where he sexually exposed himself and wanted me to touch him. I did not do this but said, “I would be missed at dancing school, and if he would take me there now, then I would not tell on him.” He immediately took me to dance school, and I kept my promise and did not tell anyone about this until I was almost 22. This man came to all the dance lessons for the next two years and stared at me during the lesson, which created fear in me.

I personally understand how children will “not tell” because they made a promise to the perpetrator and, out of fear and shame, will keep it a secret. Before I retired from my clinical practice to care for my husband after cancer surgery, I came upon children who had been in a comparable situation. This personal occurrence did help me to have them talk about their abuse, which I later reported to the child abuse authorities.

What can be done if a child is sexually abused?

In my search for a research article in my file cabinet, I came across the production of the play, “I Can’t Talk About It,” which was performed at Fullerton College, where I was teaching in May of 1991. The play is based on the award-winning book of the same name by Doris Sanford. The play was designed to help those dealing with the confusing feelings that the trauma of sexual abuse can inflict. Engulfed in shame, guilt, and fear, a young girl named Annie, who is being sexually abused by her father, learns through the help of an imaginary friend that the abuse is not her fault. Four original ballads provided a comforting and healing message to help children and adults who were abused as children and to prevent abuse from occurring. Psychological Services endorsed it for Childhelp USA, the California Association of Psych-Tech Educators, the National Council on Sexual Addiction, and the Xcel Foundation for Youth, as well as numerous health care professionals, educators, and church leaders in Southern California. The book is still available, which can be a help to those abused, with the addition of psychological therapy to report the abuse. In summary, this is a depressing topic, but it is needed. By alerting you to my personal experience and the ways a pedophile operates, I hope I have helped someone. There is a need to protect our kids and let them enjoy their childhood and not be robbed of that joy.

From the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website: RAINN.ORG
What can I expect from my child?

The effects of sexual assault and abuse vary from person to person. The process of healing from sexual abuse can take a long time, and it’s understandable to feel frustrated as a parent. Survivors of child sexual abuse can react in a wide variety of ways. Some of these reactions could cause you discomfort or take you by surprise.

  • Being angry at you for not protecting them
  • Being angry at you for removing the perpetrator from the home
  • Confiding in someone who isn’t you
  • Not talking about it at all
  • Talking about the abuse all the time
How can I report the abuse?
  • If your child is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911.
  • You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to someone from your local sexual assault service provider who is trained to help.
  • Call or text the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline at 800.4.A.CHILD(4454) any time, 24/7, to be connected with a trained volunteer who can help you through the process of reporting the crime.
  • You can learn more about mandatory reporting laws in your state by visiting RAINN’s State Law Database.
  • How to help a child who has experienced abuse or how to be aware if a child is being groomed: Child Sexual Abuse –

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at

1 reply »

  1. Combatting child abuse is important, and so it’s important to know how child abusers operate. That said, this article makes some mistakes.

    Pedophiles are teenagers and adults that are attracted to prepubescent children. Officially, Pedophilic Disorder can be diagnosed in individuals who are 16 years old and older. However, attraction alone is not enough to warrant diagnosis. There exists a population of pedophiles that do not meet Criterion B — they have not harmed a child and are not distressed by their attraction — so they experience attraction to children, but they do not have Pedophilic Disorder. This is explicitly mentioned in the DSM-5.

    Given that these “non-disordered” pedophiles by definition do not harm children, your implication that pedophiles inherently have victims reveals a strongly prejudiced viewpoint. Many pedophiles live healthy lives without ever harming children, and your broad brush paints people like that as abusers for no reason. Your article is specifically about pedophiles who are abusers, not pedophiles in general.

    Maybe you think that it’s okay to demonize people based on who they find attractive, but that broad brush still doesn’t paint the whole picture. According to studies, more than half of all child sexual abuse offenders are not actually pedophiles. (Seto, 2008). Offenders often target children because they are weaker and easier to control. This does not require the offender to have a specific attraction to children.

    Applying the label “pedophile” to someone who is not attracted to children only serves to obfuscate who you are talking about. Combining that with painting all pedophiles as abusers, and you really muddy the subject. It turns pedophiles who do not harm children into scapegoats for abuse committed by others, and completely glosses over many of the actual abusers.

    Child abuse is a very serious subject, and we need to work together as a society to prevent it. I appreciate the advice you gave to parents. I just wish you did so in way that did not needlessly scapegoat an already stigmatized minority.

    If you want to learn more about pedophiles who do NOT offend against children, consider checking out the following organizations:

    Virtuous Pedophiles (
    B4U-ACT (
    Prostasia Foundation (