Features of mental development of children of early age

This features of mental development of children of early age is about the sexual preference toward prepubescent children. It is not to be confused with hebephilia or ephebophilia.

Pedophilia, or paedophilia, is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. In popular usage, the word pedophilia is often applied to any sexual interest in children or the act of child sexual abuse. Pedophilia was first formally recognized and named in the late 19th century. A significant amount of research in the area has taken place since the 1980s.

Pedophilia emerges before or during puberty, and is stable over time. For these reasons, pedophilia has been described as a disorder of sexual preference, phenomenologically similar to a heterosexual or homosexual sexual orientation. Studies of pedophilia in child sex offenders often report that it co-occurs with other psychopathologies, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and personality problems. Impaired self-concept and interpersonal functioning were reported in a sample of child sex offenders who met the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia by Cohen et al. The pedophilic offenders in the study had elevated psychopathy and cognitive distortions compared to healthy community controls.

The most marked differences between pedophiles and controls were on the introversion scale, with pedophiles showing elevated shyness, sensitivity and depression. The pedophiles scored higher on neuroticism and psychoticism, but not enough to be considered pathological as a group. Consumption of child pornography is a more reliable indicator of pedophilia than molesting a child, although some non-pedophiles also view child pornography. Pedophilic viewers of child pornography are often obsessive about collecting, organizing, categorizing, and labeling their child pornography collection according to age, gender, sex act and fantasy. Although what causes pedophilia is not yet known, researchers began reporting a series of findings linking pedophilia with brain structure and function, beginning in 2002.