Pedophile, Child Lover, or Minor-Attracted Person? Attitudes Toward Labels Among People Who are Sexually Attracted to Children

Sara Jahnke*, Nicholas Blagden, Laura Hill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
86 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The primary label for people who are sexually attracted to children (“pedophile”) is conflated with sexual offending behavior and tainted with stigma. In the present pre-registered mixed-method study, we therefore investigated attitudes and preferences regarding "pedophile/hebephile" and other labels among 286 people who report a stronger or equally strong sexual attraction to prepubescent and pubescent children than to adults. Overall, quantitative data showed acceptance of “pedophile/hebephile” as well as a range of alternative labels in a personal (Labeling Oneself) and a professional context (Being Labeled by Others). “Minor-attracted person” and “pedophile/hebephile” received generally higher support than other terms and appeared to be least divisive across three major online fora. Qualitative data revealed four themes: “Contested self-labels,” “Person-first language and pathologizing sexuality/identity,” “Stigma and shame,” and “Reclaiming the pedophile label.” Our results allow deeper insight into reasons for adopting certain labels over others, as well as difficulties of finding a non-stigmatizing label. We discuss limitations of the study and practical implications for clinical and research contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4125-4139
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume51
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • DSM-5
  • Hebephilia
  • Identity
  • Labeling
  • Mixed-method
  • Pedophilia

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