Pubescent children sex (Hebephilia)

Hebephilia refers to the sexual preference for pubescent children; the term was introduced by Glueck (1955).[1] It differs from ephebophilia, which refers to the erotic interest in children in mid- to late adolescence,[2] and from pedophilia, which refers to the erotic interest in prepubescent children.[3] Although individuals with a sexual preference for adults (i.e., teleiophiles) also have some sexual interest in pubescent-aged individuals,[4] the term hebephilia is reserved for those who prefer pubescent-aged individuals over adults.


It is not known what causes someone to be sexually interested in pubescent children rather than in adults; nor is it established what mechanisms cause an individual to be attracted to whatever s/he is attracted to.

A team of Canadian sexologists has published a series of research articles comparing biologically relevant characteristics of clinical samples of pedophiles, hebephiles, and teleiophiles (individuals with a sexual preference for adults). In such samples, hebephilic men are midway between pedophilic men and teleiophilic men on average IQ (with pedophiles scoring the lowest),[5] memory test scores (with pedophiles scoring the lowest),[5] rates of non-right-handedness,[6] rates of school grade failures over and above the IQ differences (with pedophiles having the most frequent grade failures),[7] rates of having suffered head injuries in childhood (with pedophiles having the highest rates of injuries),[8][9] and physical height.[10]

Prevalence of hebephilia versus pedophilia

There are clinical and correctional samples of sexual offenders in which hebephilic men outnumber the pedophilic men.[5][11][12] Moreover, anonymous surveys of people sexually interested in children more frequently report an erotic interest pubescent children than in prepubescent children.[13][14]


1. ^ Glueck, B. C., Jr. (1955). Final report: Research project for the study and treatment of persons convicted of crimes involving sexual aberrations. June 1962 to June 1955. New York: New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.
2. ^ Krafft-Ebing, R., & Moll, A. (1924). Psychopathia sexualis. Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke.
3. ^ Krafft-Ebing, R. von. (1886). Psychopathia sexualis: A medico-forensic study (1965 trans by H. E. Wedeck). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
4. ^ Freund, K., Langevin, R., Cibiri, S., & Zajac, Y. (1973). Heterosexual aversion in homosexual males. British Journal of Psychiatry, 122, 163-169.
5. ^ a b c Cantor, J. M., Blanchard, R., Christensen, B. K., Dickey, R., Klassen, P. E., Beckstead, A. L., et al. (2004). Intelligence, memory, and handedness in pedophilia. Neuropsychology, 18, 3–14.
6. ^ Cantor, J. M., Klassen, P. E., Dickey, R., Christensen, B. K., Kuban, M. E., Blak, T., et al. (2005). Handedness in pedophilia and hebephilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 447–459.
7. ^ Cantor, J. M., Kuban, M. E., Blak, T., Klassen, P. E., Dickey, R., & Blanchard, R. (2006). Grade failure and special education placement in sexual offenders’ educational histories. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 743–751.
8. ^ Blanchard, R., Kuban, M. E., Klassen, P., Dickey, R., Christensen, B. K., Cantor, J. M., & Blak, T. (2003). Self-reported injuries before and after age 13 in pedophilic and non-pedophilic men referred for clinical assessment. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 573–581.
9. ^ Blanchard, R., Christensen, B. K., Strong, S. M., Cantor, J. M., Kuban, M. E., Klassen, P., Dickey, R., & Blak, T. (2002). Retrospective self-reports of childhood accidents causing unconsciousness in phallometrically diagnosed pedophiles. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 511–526.
10. ^ Cantor, J. M., Kuban, M. E., Blak, T., Klassen, P. E., Dickey, R., & Blanchard, R. (2007). Physical height in pedophilia and hebephilia. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 19, 395–407.
11. ^ Gebhard, P. H., Gagnon, J. H., Pomeroy, W. B., & Christenson, C. V. (1965). Sex offenders: An analysis of types. New York: Harper & Row.
12. ^ Studer, L. H., Aylwin, A. S., Clelland, S. R., Reddon, J. R., & Frenzel, R. R. (2002). Primary erotic preference in a group of child molesters. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 25, 173–180.
13. ^ Bernard, F. (1975). An enquiry among a group of pedophiles. The Journal of Sex Research, 11, 242–255.
14. ^ Wilson, G. D., & Cox, D. N. (1983). Personality of paedophile club members. Personality and Individual Differences, 4, 323–329.