It is important to understand the difference between pedophiles and molesters. Pedophilia, which is a psychological disorder, is a distinct sexual preference for pre-pubescent children. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 111-R), which is published by the American Psychological Association, supplies this definition of pedophilia: "recurrent, intense, sexual urges and sexual arousing fantasies of at least six months duration involving sexual activity with a pre-pubescent child" (DSM, V.3, 1987). Generally, this means the target of the fantasy will typically be less than twelve years old. Notice the definition does not require the person to actually engage in a sexual act. Pedophilia is a criminal act. The pedophile may keep his desires a secret. He may never go public or share his fantasies with anyone. At times, they will even marry a single mother to gain or continue access to her children. Pedophiles can be very determined and single minded in their efforts to stay close to children. Maintaining access to children at all costs is one of the defining trademarks of pedophilia, which will be discussed later.
It should be said from the beginning that no one knows how many pedophiles exist in America since the overwhelming majority never fulfill their fantasies, nor do they come to the attention of law enforcement agents (Vito, 1994). They seem content to fantasize in the safety of their homes. The most common type of pedophile personality is the immature model. These people have never been able to maintain a successful interpersonal relationship with others. At some point in their lives, they discover that sexual activities with pre-pubescent children can be achieved and they feel a sense of fulfillment they cannot obtain anywhere else. They are classified as loner deviants and usually will not associate with other deviants. Since they lack social contact with others, they spiral downward into deeper recesses of pedophilia and fantasies(Best and Luckenbill, 1992).