Pedophilia, paedophilia or pædophilia (see "American and British English spelling differences") is the paraphilia of being sexually attracted primarily or exclusively to prepubescent or peripubescent children. A person with this attraction is called a pedophile or paedophile.
In contrast to the generally accepted medical definition, the term pedophile is also used colloquially to denote significantly older adults who are "Ephebophiliacs" (sexually attracted to adolescents) below the local age of consent, as well as those who have sexually abused a child.
The word comes from the Greek language paidophilia (παιδοφιλία)—pais (παις, "child") and philia (φιλία, "love, friendship"). Paidophilia was coined by Greek poets either as a substitute for "paiderastia" or vice versa. Der unterdrückte Sexus ("Historical oppression of sexuality"). The anonymous 1869 author had harshly rejected the theories of early LGBT activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs whose "filthy pederasty" he contrasted with chaste, "sublime paedophilia" basing both definitions on the classical meaning boy for παις instead of the non-classical meaning child, and εραστια ("erastia") as pure "sexual desire", contrasted with more sublime φιλία.
The term paedophilia erotica was coined in 1886]] by the Vienna psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing]] in his writing Psychopathia Sexualis. He gave the following characteristics:
- the sexual interest is toward children, either prepubescent or at the beginning of puberty
- the sexual interest is the primary one, that is, exclusively or mainly toward children
- the sexual interest remains over time
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