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Within the large body of research regarding sexual offenses toward children, the terms child molestation and pedophilia are used interchangeably, though there are some distinctions between the two. Child molestation is a layman's term, whereas pedophilia is a diagnostic term used within the medical arena to assess and diagnose offenders with a sexual proclivity toward children. A child molester may or may not meet the scientific criteria necessary to be considered a pedophile. What follows is a description of the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association.

Pedophilia, which is also a paraphilia, may be defined as recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies about or engages in sexual behavior involving a prepubescent child or children, generally the age of 13 years or younger. The Diagnostic and Statistical ...

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